György Galántai:

The context of wandering zero points

The “context” theme is linked to the “Farewell to the 20th century” framework theme of the Budapest Spring Festival and serves as the starting point of Artpool’s program concluding the century-millennium. In the context of traveling situations – described by constant change – “farewell” is a wandering zero point. The two zero points of twentieth-century art – the philosophical-poetic-conceptual “nothing” and the monochrome in painting – correspond to this situation. They are a farewell to historical, evaluative and political consciousness.

  A poetic “text” is always virtual because what we see is only a code for what cannot be seen, which means that we see in virtual form what we read. The great media inventions such as theatre, film, video, etc. attempt to make this virtuality into reality. People are able to learn to simultaneously read text, image and sound, i.e. content. With media-proliferation, the various media have lost their original aims and impact; the era of media is coming to a close. The world wide web has emerged and together with it a new reading technique – puzzle-solving has been replaced by computing (assembling) reading – which gradually transforms every previous code. (“... puzzle-solving reading reveals itself to be critical reading in disguise. Its criterion is a zero. [...] science establishes values just as politics and art do. [...] This transition from the old ways of reading to the new involves a leap from historical, evaluative, political consciousness into a consciousness that is cybernetic and playful, that confers meaning. This will be the consciousness that reads in the future.”*)

  The “Monochrome and Nothing” project seeks to display in real space the context of contextual zero points and the problem of the zero point (is there a zero point or not; if there is, how; if there isn’t, how not). The exhibition halls are made monochrome by the blue, yellow and red lighting, while the individual objects placed in the space – a blue entrance door, a yellow table and a red pseudo film projection – provide the inner context of the monochrome. The context with nothing leads into the texts. The monochrome space thus operates as a kind of “aura” of the displayed philosophical-poetic-conceptual texts.

  In the monochrome light – and sound environment – as if in a sort of mythical-meditational space – the texts are specifically located in places where it would not be expected that something is there. The spatial arrangement of the texts and the labyrinth-like space make it possible for readers to “randomly decide” about the order of the texts they want to read. The “self-defined” readers involve themselves in the context by reading their own reading of the texts.

(English translation: Krisztina Sarkady-Hart)

*Vilém Flusser: Die Schrift, Immatrix Publications, Göttingen, 1987. In English: Does Writing Have a Future?, Univ. of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis – London, 2011, pp. 82–85.

Some text-contexts

– “... they asked me for something for an exhibition in my honor and I wrote back ‘nothing’ on a blank page, and this was what I had to contribute, the word ‘nothing’ on a blank page.” (Ray Johnson)
– “Nothing is not nothing in something, but nothing in nothing. Something is not something in nothing but something in something.” (Miklós Erdély)

– “... I, of necessity had to publish invisible books, and do Nothings, and you know, deal in things that don't exist.” (Ray Johnson)
– “An empty frame, signed. The destruction of my works as a work of art. Secret works: a dozen ideas I keep a secret.” (Ben Vautier)

– “Feeling the soul, explaining things without words and representing this feeling is what has led me to the monochrome, I believe.” (Yves Klein)
– “... pure Taoism, pure Zen when you get down to that, which is a point that I often get to in my work. I used to do events called ‘nothings’ and I'm involved with just absolute space, with no art, [...] no statement, no nothing.” (Ray Johnson)

– “Feeling the soul, explaining things without words and representing this feeling is what has led me to the monochrome, I believe.” (Yves Klein)
– “After the first monochromes by Yves Klein I signed five paint color samples.” (Ben Vautier)

– “It is important to copy and forge, because artists do not like to do such things.” (Ben Vautier)
– “Only what is repeated is manifested; only what is repeated is non-existent.” (Miklós Erdély)

– “Kicks as works of art, certified. To come up with an idea and then forget it.” (Ben Vautier)
– “Nothing is nothing.” (Endre Tót)