press release

he Nothing exhibition presents the idea of nothing as a substantial artistic subject. In the midst of a flurry of publishing and debates about the mathematical history of zero, artists also have a history of exploring visual, playful and philosophical approaches to the void, invisibility, and absence.

This ambitious and exciting exhibition brings together over 36 international art works from the 1960’s to the present day. The exhibition looks at how artists have been and still are, occupied with negotiating nothingness and the void.

A major concern for artists in the 1960’s and 1970’s was questioning the idea of what we see before us. They examined the part that material qualities play in supplying evidence of an artwork that may purely exist in the imagination. Artists Robert Barry and Douglas Heubler made work that expanded the notion of sculptural space. Heubler’s ‘site sculptures’ identified a location as an artwork, which may or may not be apparent to the passer by. Barry released specific quantities of radioactive gas into the air, a performance sculpture that literally loses itself in the environment.

More recently artists have tested and parodied these works and ideas. Keith Tyson’s telepathic invitation to collaborate - resulting in a blank canvas and Pierre Bismuth’s blue wall a slightly different colour blue that you can’t see. These artists make playful homage to Robert Barry’s telepathic piece, made in 1969, and Yves Klien’s patented colour International Klein Blue. Tacita Dean’s sound work Trying to find the Spiral Jetty is a recent recording of her search for Robert Smithson’s land sculpture in Great Salt Lake, Utah, USA, 1970, now submerged.

Creative processes are often about making something out of nothing or nothing out of something. Ceal Floyer’s Garbage Bag, 1996, a bin liner placed in the corner of the gallery and Angela de la Cruz’s Nothing (Blue),1998 a scrumpled up canvas, contrast relative values of the material and the idea.

Matthew Crawley investigates ideas of nothing. His work A Film of me hiding in the bushes, 1996, which is just that, offers a playful incite into the faith of invisibility. By constructing a column in the gallery Gaia Alessi explores architectural invisibility and the value and description of empty space. In this way ‘nothing’ is a frame of reference and only exists if you are not looking for it. The phrase ‘there’s nothing there’ is a valu judgement.

The exhibition catalogue includes texts and images by 80 artists and writers. Published in collaboration with NGCA and August Media. Pressetext

Nothing in the Main Hall
Kuratoren: Ele Carpenter, Graham Gussin
Produktion: Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland

mit Gaia Alessi, Art & Language, Fiona Banner, Robert Barry, Joseph Beuys, Pierre Bismuth, David Connearn, Geoff Cox, Matthew Crawley, Martin Creed, Angela de la Cruz, Tacita Dean, Barry Flanagan, Ceal Floyer, Peter Fraser, Margarita Gluzberg, Gilbert & George, Liam Gillick, Kristjan Gudmundsson, Graham Gussin, Hans Haacke, Nancy Holt, Douglas Huebler, Dean Hughes, Alex Ingram, Yves Klein, Gerhard Lang, Jeremy Millar, Tatsuo Miyajima, Jonathan Monk, Gabriel Orozco, Victoria de Rijke, Hayley Skipper, Robert Smithson, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Slaven Tolj, Keith Tyson, Sophie Weeks, Lawrence Weiner, Andrew Weir, Ian Wilson, Keith Wilson, Carey Young

12.04. - 03.06.2001 Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland
22.06. - 19.08.2001 Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius