While the capital is full of spectacle and visual riches this summer, it is a refreshing contrast to visit an exhibition concerned with art that lacks anything much to see. It is extraordinary to witness so many approaches to, what on the surface appears to be, such a limited idea.
Although one would expect the driest of conceptual art, actually the show is full of amusing, witty ideas, which have visitors grinning and even comparing responses.
Yoko Ono is a key explorer of the ethereal and her ‘Hide and Seek’ instruction piece is equally funny and sad:
Hide until everybody goes home.
Hide until everybody forgets about you.
Hide until everybody dies.
Many pieces document past or possible future events: Chris Burden’s 1975 exhibition in which he lay hidden on a raised platform in a California gallery for twenty-two days; the paperwork from Yves Klein’s 1959 sales of zones of immaterial sensibility; Claes Oldenburg’s studies for a proposed buried monument to JFK intended to be the same size as the Statue of Liberty!
Other works deal with psychic phenomena, one suspects not always altogether sincerely: Tom Friedman’s space above a pedestal cursed by a professional witch; the pitch dark room containing the ghost of (dead) mystic artist James Lee Byars; Andy Warhol’s 1985 Invisible Sculpture – a plinth retaining the aura of celebrity from his having briefly stood on it.
Some of the most pleasing exhibits are those that have the merest trace of a creative act, although most of the work has become invisible: Bruno Jakob’s paintings done with melted snow or the artist’s breath.
I’m afraid the exhibition has now ended so, fittingly, you will not be able to see it.
Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Chris Kenny.