What is not visible is not invisible

“Art is just an expression, a Trojan horse for ideas.”1

It would be hard to better express the very essence of contemporary creation: the primacy of the idea over its formalization. The disappearance of the object announced by Lawrence Weiner, a central figure in American conceptual art, in his 1968 Statement, captures this new attitude adopted in the early twentieth century by Marcel Duchamp:

1. The artist can create the piece.
2. It is possible to make the piece.
3. It is possible not to make the piece.

The withdrawal of the figure of the creator leads to the delegation of the realization of the work to an institution or to the sponsor thus reinforcing their “power.” More than ever, exhibition thus becomes a critical place for the construction of the visible, even when there is “nothing to see.”

The presentation or exhibition of a work, when the latter is invisible, instruction-based, or ephemeral becomes a modality of that work. In an exhibition that does not contain any objects, all contextual elements become significant and, by designating the absence of the work, reinforce the presence of the system.

The dematerialization of the work echoes research in language: a quest for the essential, which is not confined to rigorism or austerity. The experimental approaches, the systems and principles formulated by the artists are often tinged with humor, critical distance, and a spirit of poetic subversion!

1 Freddy Contreras / Ceal Floyer, Exhibition catalog, London: The Showroom gallery, 1995.

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