As Lady Bracknell said in “The Importance of Being Earnest”, I merely desire information. My question is prompted by a review in today’s Daily Telegraph. “Invisible: Art About the Unseen 1957-2012” is at the Hayward Gallery until August 5th. It was this exhibition which prompted the post A Blank Canvas by Image Object Text which I reblogged recently.
In the review, Richard Dorment wrote: “… just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Obvious examples in everyday life are radio waves, X-rays and magnetism. You can’t see faith or intuition or telepathy either – but all are very real to those who have experience of them.
“… Yves Klein created The Void in 1957. The original work (which still exists) consisted of an empty gallery in which Klein claimed to have infused his artistic sensibility, a commodity – like wit, desire, or intelligence – that you cannot see or feel, but know when it is there… As a devout Catholic, Klein understood that belief is as necessary to the practice of art as it is to religion. Both require an ability to make a leap of faith into areas of human experience that have no material dimension.
“The idea that an artist’s sensibility is in some way palpable did not die with Klein. The American performance artist Chris Burden once spent three weeks in a gallery lying in a prone position at the back of a high platform where he could not be seen by visitors to his show. What interested Burden was whether the knowledge of the unseen artist’s presence altered their response to the space they were in. Of course, it did. A consecrated church feels different from one that is unconsecrated and the presence of a Royal or a celebrity at a public function changes the atmosphere whether we actually see them or not.
Tom Friedman’s ‘Untitled (A Curse)’, 1992 Photo: REX FEATURES
“… Tom Friedman paid a professional witch to curse an area of about 11 inches above an empty pedestal he was saying something worth hearing. For the piece will evoke as many responses to it as there are visitors to the show – indifference with some, fear in others, and a cackle of laughter from me.
“And I laughed, too, at Maurizio Cattelan’s send-up of the whole idea of conceptual art when he reported the theft of an invisible art work to the police, then exhibited the solemn police report in the gallery…”
I’m not making any comment. Surely you don’t expect me to exclaim like a small boy “The Emperor’s plinth has no art on it!”, do you?