Nothing to see here

In 1970, the year that he gave up painting, Robert Irwin exhibited Experimental Situation at Ace Gallery, Los Angeles. The invitation to the show explained: “The gallery (…) will be empty for a period of 1 month (October), for Robert Irwin to visit the space daily to conceive the different possibilities of artworks for the space.”

A year later, Irwin’s former student Chris Burden performed Five Day Locker Piece at University of California, Irvine. Viewers of the piece could see neither the artist, sealed in a two by two by three feet locker, nor the five gallon bottle of water in the locker above, nor the empty five gallon bottle below.

In 1975, at Claire Copley Gallery, Michael Asher removed the wall between the office and the exhibition space. The rest of the gallery remained empty – or as empty as it was prior to Asher’s exhibition.

On April 5th, 2013, Lucy Campana, Hailey Loman and Gaea Woods set to work cleaning the interior of Human Resources, Chinatown. When I visited they had spread tarps over the floor and were dismantling ceiling panels. A male friend was lending a hand. The empty space was a hive of activity.

Just around the block, at Jancar Jones Gallery, Ryan Fabel had installed The Amber Room. The initially sparse seeming installation was flooded with yellow light, thanks to glass tubes fitted over the fluorescent bulbs. The walls also reflected this light in an odd, uneven fashion, as if carelessly painted; it transpired, on closer inspection, that Fabel had plastered them all specially for the show.