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Below you will find applications to the art theory of Stefan Beyst

From way back, man has staged reality. That is already the case with non-human nature: think of flowers in a vase or fruit in a bowl, fishes in an aquarium or animals in a zoo. Also man himself is put on display: from the child that is presented to the community at birth, over the beautiful women who exhibits herself before the eyes of the public, to the corpse that is laid out before its burial.Formerly, also rarities were exhibited: think of Siamese twins, women with three breasts, foetuses, and what have you. And, last but not least, remnants of all kinds of human activity are often conserved as archaeological find, relic, ruin or memorial. It is immediately evident, then, that the array of aesthetic experiences elicited by displayed reality is as broad as that of imitated reality. But that should not induce us to confuse imitated and displayed reality, and to declare the latter art'. Quoted from 'Mimesis and Art'

Ever more examples will be added until there is a complete overview of the most important forms of displayed reality that poses for art.

For examples of the auditory counterpart: see 'Found Sound' (soon on this website).


Abramovic Arman Baines Burden Bijl Christo Duchamp Eliasson Evaristti Gilbert and George Gormley Haacke Habacuc Hirst Kounellis Malstaf Mûhl Nitsch Orlan Parsons Man Ray Schneider Slominsky Spoerri Schwarzkogler Tunick Turrell Wurm



MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887-1968)

When speaking of displayed reality, immediately works like Duchamp's 'Fontaine' and 'Bicycle Wheel' come to our mind. But, because these are rather non- verbal statements about art, we dealt with these objects in 'Statements about Art'.

A genuine readymade is Egouttoir/Bottle Rack (1914). No doubt, we can lend it all kinds of symbolic interpretations - some read phalluses in it, 'waiting for wet vagina's'... But that does not transform the bottle rack into something else. The penises are there only symbolically: in the interpreting mind, not for the contemplating eye (or the representing mind, in which case we would be dealing with an object that conjures up representations). But also this bottle rack continues to be read as a statement, and that goes also for 'Wooden Hat Rack' (1916) that hung on the ceiling of Duchamp's workshop, as opposed to painting that hang on the wall. And even when we just consider them to be displayed objects as such, they are not works of art, but simply displayed objects, just like flowers in a vase, which are art neither.....

MAN RAY (1890-1876)

That is why our survey should rather begin with Man Ray's 'L'énigme d'Isidore Ducasse' (1920) - even when this is rather an example of negative displaying: displaying through hiding. Also this object is not an imitation, but just displayed reality - and a rather suggestive one...

Other objects of Man Ray belong to the realm of design.


Also processes can be exhibited. Think of Hans Haacke who had a blue sail moved by a ventilator in ''Blue Sail' (1964-1965), or a white sphere on a stream of air in 'Sphere in Oblique Air-Jet' (1967). Another series of works is created by condensation on cooling elements: 'Condensation Cube' (1963), 'Condensation Wall' (1963-1966). In works like 'Grass grows' (1969) and 'Bowery Seeds' (1970), Hans Haacke had seeds grow in a heap of ground. In 'Chicks Hatching' (1969) we see chicken hatching. In 'Beach Pollution' (1970) Haacke piles up the waste found on a beach.


Christo began his career in 1958 as wrapper of objects under the auguries of Pierre Restany and his 'Nouveau Réalisme'. We are dealing here not with imitated objects, but with displayed reality.

Christo soon proceeds to works on a greater scale. In 1959, he wraps the Australian Coast. He repeated this intervention with many a historic building like the Pont Neuf (1985) and the Reichstag (1995). This is equally displayed reality.

From 1973 onwards, the works of Christo tend to take the form of landscape design (see: Art and Design).


Daniel Spoerri was launched by Pierre Restany ('Nouveau Réalisme') in the end of the fifties. He made furore by fixating the remnants of breakfasts on a table (among others from the 'Restaurant Spoerri' which he runned from 1968 to 1972 in Dusseldorf), and to hang them on the walls like paintings - which cannot but remind us of Manzoni, who exhibited the entire world on his 'Socle du Monde' (see 'Manzoni').

We are dealing here with displayed reality, like flowers in a vase. We can also read these breakfast tables as relics from - banal rather than memorable - events. In that case, they conjure up the representation of what preceded. The real objects on the table are then integrated in a whole in which reality and representation are combined, and are thereby transformed into mimesis, just like the props on the scene of a theatre. The breakfast table would then belong to the category of objects that conjure up representations. I prefer to consider them as mere displayed reality, because the representations are not compulsory and cannot but be very vague.

Soon, Spoerri proceeds to making more 'substantial' works: he had his tables cast in bronze. They thereby are transformed in real mimesis. But not in completed art: the question remains whether his scenes are worth it to be eternalised in bronze...

ARMAN (1928)

Just like Spoerri, also Arman has been launched by Pierre Restany ('Nouveau Réalisme'). He made furore with his 'accumulations': identical objects piled up and exhibited. We are dealing here with mere displayed object, like flowers in a vase, although the objects are arranged in a composition, again like flowers in a vase. And that goes also for theaccumulations were the objects themselves are transformed, like the split saxophones, which thereby rather take the form of rudimentary design instead of 'found objects'.

When Arman casts the instruments in bronze, they become imitations. But these are imitations on the same primitive level as a bunch of imitated flowers in a cheap restaurant.

More obvious is the shift to design, as when Arman uses his 'accumulated violins' as the legs of a table, or when he combines the parts of a cello into a chair: see 'Art or Design'.

Only in some accumulations like 'Les Chromosomes' (1963) are we dealing with - not all too convincing - mimesis.


In the end of the sixties, Kounellis came to the fore with a series of non-verbal statements about art. After this initial series of non-verbal manifests, Kounellis suits the action to the word. He proceeds to working with real objects instead of paintings. Some of these objects are displayed reality as when he combines various objects into a new whole that is sometimes very suggestive, like windows which are filled up with rocks, or an old cupboard with coals. However 'speaking' these assemblages may be, they are not works of art, but displayed reality like flowers in a vase or a corpse on a catafalque. Other
objects conjure up representations in the mind. Other works, finally, are genuine mimesis, even when unusual media are used, as in his catafalques.

For an analyses of the evolution of his works: see 'Iannis Kounellis: the metamorphoses of Apollo'


Became renown for his meanwhile 36 'Skypaces'. The most important 'skyspace' is the Roden Crater project in Flagstaff, Arizona, where a natural cinder volcanic crater is turned into an observatory for the viewing of celestial phenomena.
For the eclipse of the sun on August 11th, 1999, Turrell conceived another 'perceptual space': 'The Elliptic Ecliptic' built on a hillside facing St. Michael's Mount (England, UK). Another "skyspace' isLight Reign (2003). We are dealing her with architectural devices for displaying reality, like a pedestal. Other works of James Turrell are variants of 'spatial design'.

or a more extensive analysis: see 'James Turrell: a sculptor of light'

GUILLAUME BIJL (°1946, Antwerp, Belgium)

In the seventies, Guillaume Bijl began to exhibit no longer single 'objets trouvés' like Marcel Duchamp, but entire interiors like that of a class-room in 'Driving School Z' (1979- 1989). Other installations include 'Lustrerie Media' (1984), 'Sculpture trouvée' (1987), 'Mon chalet' (1987), 'Miss Hamburg Wahl' (1988), 'Wunderkammer-Installation' (Cabinet of curiosities, Documenta Wax Museum) (1992), 'Bird Installation' (1992), 'TV Quiz Decor' (1993), 'Roman Street’ (1994)
'Horizon Systems'(1994), “Souvenirs of the 20th century”.(1999), 'Die Geschichte der Erotik' (1999), 'Your Supermarket' (2002), 'Inter-phone center' (2005), 'Archaeological Site'(2007)

Guillaume Bijl is not so much 'exploring the borders between art and reality', he rather transgresses them. His installations are no 'surrealist sculptures' - no art-, but simply displayed reality, like Arthur Danto's 'Gettysburgh National Battlefield Museum' or the 'Boyau de la mort' at Diksmuide (Belgium),

Despite his 1982 declaration that 'All museums, cultural centres and art galleries must be closed' and replaced with 'socially useful institutions' ( 'The Art - Liquidation Project' , 1982)
Guillaume Bijl and his installations thrive well in the art-establishment.


Andreas Slominsky is renown for his 'Traps', which are good examples of humoristic design. Other creations of Andreas Slominsky are 'performances' like 'Heizen' (first version 1996) where the vanes of a windmill are burned in a stove in a gallery. However, it is not because the vanes and the stoves are displayed in a gallery, that they are transformed into sculptures: we are dealing here with mere displayed reality. And that goes also for the (metaphorical) performance itself: it is real and does not evoke the action of some imaginary being. Not sculpture, then, and even less theatre.

OLAFUR ELIASSON (°1967 Copenhagen)

Olafur Eliasson is often presented as a sculptor. In fact, most of his works are spatial design (see Eliasson). In other works, like the BMW racing car encased in two tons of ice, on view in SFMOMA during 'Take your Time' (2007-2008), we are dealing with 'displayed reality'.

GREGOR SCHNEIDER (°1969, Rheydt, Germany).

Since the age of 16 Gregor Schneider is working on ‘Totes Haus u r’ (Dead House u r, 1985–97), an ordinary terraced house in Monchengladbach, Germany. The tiny entranceway can rotate 360 degrees, so that the visitor can end up in one of several different spaces. The rooms themselves are filled with 'sculptures' consisting of trash. The whole project reminds of Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau in Hannover, although there is no hint of horror there. Soon, Gregor Schneider proceeds to the construction of other real spaces. 'Die Familie Schneider' ('The Schneider Family') (2004), consists of mirror installations with twins in a double-house. The 'Black Cube' (13 m X 13 m x 13m, quite like the Kaaba in Mekka) was intended for 'Cube Venice' (2005), 'Cube Berlin' (2006) and 'Das schwarze Quadrat, Hommage an Malewitsch', Hamburg (2007). ‘Weisse Folter’ (White Torture, 2007) consits of uncannily smooth and clean cells inspired by Camp 5 in Guantanamo Bay. 'Bondi Beach, 21 beach cells' (2007) comprises 21 identical cells each containing an air mattress, beach umbrella and garbage bag. In 'Süsser Duft' 'sweet smell' (2008) the visitor has to walk alone through a series of cold, pitch black rooms of decreasing size.

There is an air of crime and horror and torture in many works of Gregor Schneider. It comes as no surprise than, that the artist plans the ultimate performance piece: the exhibition of a real person dying with the help of a Dusseldorf doctor. In case the Haus Lange Museum in Krefeld is not interested, he will stage it in a studio located in his hometown of Rheydt, Germany. The theme as such is not new in Gregor Schneider's work. 'Hannelore Reuen Alte Hausschlampe' (1997), featured a dead woman in an empty space, and the artist himself faked death as part of an exhibition already in 2000¨. His move from fake - mimesis - to reality is perhaps inspired by the success of Guillermo Vargas Habacuc with his real dying dog in 2007. The theme as such is not new in the museums either: For decades, Joel-Peter Witkin has been staging dead bodies in his photographs. Photos, however, are not real - mimesis. Judging from the photos of Joel-Peter Witkin, and from some filmed performances of Paul McCarthy, we soon can expect performances in which real living bodies are mutilated under the guise of art - think of the gladiators in the Colosseum in Rome some 2000 years ago, or of the public executions in the Middle Ages.

Just like with Guillaume Bijl, we are dealing here with (the art of displaying) reality,
which is quite different from (the) art (of mimesis). Of course, the 'Cube' is not the real Kaaba, but the resemblance is deceptive, and could as well be understood as a 'displacement' of the real thing. In that sense, his works are akin to the photographed reconstructions of reality of Thomas Demand.

See also: Mark Power: The art of dying



From 1962 onwards, Hermann Nitsch performs many 'Aktionen' ('happenings', 'performances') with blood, crucifixions and animal slaughter. From 1971 onwards, he organises his '
Orgien Mysterien Theater' in Schloss Prinzendorf in Austria. In 1998, Hermann Nitsch staged his 100th performance.

Most of the performances of Hermann Nitsch survive in the attributes and in relics, such as the canvasses smeared with blood. Like other relics, these objects are no artworks, but
displayed reality. And that holds equally for Nitsch' performances themselves: since the performers are not impersonating imaginary characters, they have nothing to do with theatre, let alone with a 'Gesamtkunstwerk'.

For a more detailed analysis: see
Hermann Nitsch.

OTTO MÜHL (°1925)

In the early sixties, Otto Mühl proceeded to the performance of 'Aktionen' in the wake of the New Yorker Happenings:' Die Blutorgel' 'Fest des psycho-physischen Naturalismus' (1963), 'Versumpfung einer Venus' (1963) and 'Malaktionen' (1964 - 1966). In 1968, Mühl, Brus and Oswald Wiener organised an Aktionsveranstaltung 'Kunst und Revolution'" in the University of Vienna. Although they often survive in relics (smeared canvas), these 'Akitionen' have nothing to do with painting, let alone with theatre. We are dealing with the staging of all kinds of transgressive acts: displayed reality.

Gradually, Mühl began to regard the 'Aktion' as a bourgeois art form. In order to achieve the 'transition from art to life', he founded a commune in Friedrichshof as a kind of anti-society in 1972: from mere displayed reality to reality itself.


In 1965, Rudolf Schwarzkogler was introduced to the Viennese Actionism by Hermann Nitsch and Otto Mühl. From 1965 onwards, he began to participate in Herman Nitsch' Aktionen. In that same year, he performed his first Aktion 'Hochzeit' (1965), for a handful of friends and the camera. Standing before a table covered with a white tablecloth and accompanied by Gregorian chants, Schwarzkogler performed a kind of private ritual with dead fish, a dead chicken, various animal organs, eggs, colored liquids, a knife, and scissors. All of his subsequent actions were performed exclusively for the camera. In Aktion 2 he posed with a sliced open fish covering his groin. In his 4. Aktion (1965), gauze-wrapped men are poked and prodded with razor blade and electrical wires. The prominence of self-mutilations in his 'Aktionen', gave birth to the myth that he died as a consequence of an auto-castration in one of his performances.

Most of his 'Aktionen' survive only in the form of films, photographs or as relics. These relics are no sculptures, but displayed reality. The films and photographs are in the first place documents (instrumental mimesis), unless they are judged as artworks in their own right. The performances themselves are not theatre, but pure displayed reality: Rudolf Schwarzkogler is not impersonating someone else.


Gilbert Proesch (1943) and George Passmore (°1942) met in 1967 while studying sculpture at Saint Martins College of Art and Design. They became famous with their 'Human Sculptures' or 'Living Sculptures' like 'Underneath the Arches' (1970), in which, often for hours at a time, they posed like statues, often covered in gold metallic paint and wearing matching business suits. Despite the reference to 'statues', we are not dealing here with sculpture, but with displayed reality.

Just like many other performers and land artists, Gilbert and George soon stop performing and proceed to filming ('Gorden makes us drunk', 'The World of Gilbert and George’), photographing ('Photosculptures'), photomontaging (Cosmological Pictures) and drawing themselves. Only these documents belong to the realm of art (mimesis), in as far as they are judged from a purely artistic point of view, and not as documents of the performance, in which case they are pure instrumental mimesis.


Chris Burden is famed for his performances involving personal danger. In 'Shoot' (1971) a friend shot him in the arm at his request In 'Five Day Locker Piece' (1971) he locked himself for five consecutive days in a locker. In 'Disappearing' (1971) Burden disappeared for three days without prior notice. In ''Bed piece' (1972), the artist moved a single bed into an art gallery, took off his clothes and got into bed for 22 days, speaking to no one. In 'Jaizu' (1972), he sat motionlessly in a director's chair for two days while visitors were allowed to contemplate him. In 'Doorway to Heaven' (1973) he pushed two live electric wires into his chest. 'The wires crossed and exploded, burning me but saving me from electrocution'. In 'Through the Night Softly', (1973), Burden crawled through 50 feet of broken glass which he saw as stars in the sky. In 'Transfixed' (1974) he was nailed on his back over the rear section of a Volkswagen Bug that was pushed out of a garage, the engine running at full speed for two minutes, and then pushed back inside. In 'Velvet Water' (1974), he submerged his face into a small sink full of water and repeatedly tried to breathe it. On two monitors, the audience could hear him choking and gagging. In 'The Visitation' (1974), only one person at a time was allowed beyond in a dark boiler-room where Burden was seated, introduced himself and talked casually with each visitor.In ‘Sculpture in Three Parts’ (1974), he exhibited himself on a pedestal for 48 hours, until exhaustion. In ‘White Light/White Heat’ (1975), he spent 22 days alone and invisible to the public on a high platform in a gallery, without eating, speaking, or seeing.

All this is very daring, but, unless sward swallowers, glass eaters, knife throwers and similar performers are also to be considered heirs to Michelangelo, this has nothing to do with sculpture, let alone with art. These performances are just 'displayed reality'. As such, they belong in the circus, not in the museum.

In the late seventies, Chris Burden's interest shifts to objects (see Chris Burden design).

MARINA ABRAMOVIC (°1946 Belgrad)

Marina Abramovic describes herself as the ‘grandmother of performance art’ – an elegant way of discarding the grandfathers. She began her career as a performance artist with the series ‘Rhythm’. In Rhythm 10 (1973) she mutilates her fingers with a knife. In ‘Rhythm 5’ (1974) she almost died from asphyxiation while lying within a curtain of oxygen-devouring flames. Her most renown performance is Rhythm 2 (1974) in which she agreed the spectators to do anything they wanted with any of 72 objects around her - including knives, scissors, a needle, a whip a loaded gun. In ‘Art Must Be Beautiful//Artist Must Be Beautiful’, she brushed her hair simultaneously with a metal brush and metal comb until her face and hair were damaged. Self-mutilation - including carving a star into her stomach with a razor blade -is also the theme of ‘Thomas’ lips’ (1975). In ‘Role Exchange’ (1975) she exchanged places for four hours with an Amsterdam prostitute). Then came the series ‘Freeing’. In Freeing the Voice' (1975) Marina Abramovic lay on the floor with her head tilted back and screamed for three hours, stopping when she lost her voice. In ‘Freeing the Memory’ (1976), she free-associated until no more words came to her and in' Freeing the Body" (1976) she wrapped her head in a black scarf and moved to a drumbeat for eight hours, stopping when she collapse

In 1975 Abramovic met Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen), who became her partner in performances like "Relation in Space" (1976) , ‘Breathing in, Breathing out’ (1977), ‘Imponderabilia’ (1977) and ‘Rest energy’ (1980). In ‘The Great Wall Walk’ (1988), Marina Abramovic and Ulay walked 2,000 km along the Great Wall of China, starting at opposite ends and meeting in the middle – which sealed their separation in real life.

In "Salles d'opération de l'âme" (2000), it is the spectators who have to submit themselves to all kind of transgressive experiences.

In recent years, Marina Abramovic concentrates on re-performances of her own work and of other performance artists like Vito Acconci, Valie Export, Gina Pane, Joseph Beuys. She also made a medley of her previous work in an film "Balkan Baroque" (2000), directed by Pierre Coulebeuff.

The performances of Marina Abramovic are forms of displayed reality – the masochistic counterparts of the good old striptease. This is not art, let alone theatre: Marina Abramovic stages herself, not some self-mutilating personage. It does not help that some of her performances are symbolic, or meant as statements: the burning of a flag in a demonstration is equally symbolic, but not art.

ORLAN (°1947)

In the sixties, Orlan enters the scene of performance art with her 'street actions' (1964-1966) and with tableaux vivants after great nudes in the history of art. In her 'Documentary Study: The Head of Medusa' she displayed her sexual organs during her period, under magnifying glass. She became famous with her performance "The Artist’s Kiss" ("Le baiser de l'artiste) (1977). Most spectacular are her surgery-performances 'La Réincarnation de Sainte Orlan' (1990-1993) in which the artist had her face transformed after famous paintings and sculptures including Mona Lisa.

Orlan's performances have nothing to do with art, but everything with displayed reality like flowers in a vase or a striptease. To be sure, Orlan's versions of the striptease try to legitimate themselves through posing as art. The innocent voyeuristic pleasures of her early performances are increasingly replaced with more sadistic variants in the nineties...


In April 2007 Adrian Parsons circumcised himself with a dull Swiss army knife
during a performance 'Shrapnel' for the exhibition entitled Supple, at the Warehouse Gallery, Washington, DC.


Question of pushing the borders: Guillermo Vargas Habacuc had the luminous idea of tying a street dog called 'Natividad' to the corner of the wall and let it starve from hunger and thirst in the 'Galería Códice' in Managua (2007). Talking of 'displayed reality'... Gregor Schneider goeds even further: he wants to exhibit a dying human....

ERWIN WURM (°1954)

Became renowned with his "One Minute Sculptures" (1997) and his" Outdoor Sculptures" realised in different places (Appenzell, Cahors, Taipeh, 1998-2000): various people enacting scenes in an often estranging context, somewhat in the tradition of Gilbert and George. In other works, it is the viewers who follow the handling instruction of Erwin Wurm, like in 'Keep a cool head' (2003), where the exhibition visitors are expected to stick their heads into a fridge. In 'Carrying Edelbert Köb (Be nice to your curator)' (2006) it is the artist himself who carries the MUMOK’s director in his arms through the exhibition. The scenes are photographically conserved.

Although we are dealing here with mere 'displayed reality', Erwin Wurm regards himself as a sculptor. Unjustifiably so. Only the photographs belong to the realm of mimesis, in as far as they are judged from a purely artistic point of view, and not as documents of the performance, in which case they are pure instrumental mimesis.


From 1992 onwards, Spencer Tunick photographs increasing numbers of nude people, initially in New York, but soon also in diverse urban settings in the Americas, Europe and Australia. We are dealing here with a form of 'mass streaking". Spencer Tunick calls his creations 'installations', or even 'body sculpture'. But that is merely a guise: Spencer Tunick's projects have nothing to do with art, but everything with displayed reality - bodies that are staged like those on the catwalk, even when, with Spencer Tunick, they do not wear clothes, like those in the striptease bar. Also the photographs of Spencer Tunick's masses do not transcend the level of mere documents, and hence belong to the domain of mere instrumental mimesis.

For an extensive analysis: see 'Spencer Tunick's Body Sculptures: art and transgression'.


In 2006, the Australian painter Andrew Baines set up a series of 'surreal human sculptures' with people standing in the surf wearing business suits in the manner of René Magritte, first at Tennyson Beach (60 people), then at St. Kilda Beach (250 people), Manly Beach (500 people), and North Cottesloe Beach (100 people):

andrew baines: manly beach

According to Adrew Baines, 'it's a way oftaking the art to a newlevel - off the canvas and into reality''. Indeed, despite the reference to René Magritte, it is obvious that this has nothing to with sculpture - let alone with art, but everything with displayed reality. Only the photos or paintings of the event ar genuine works of art, in so far as they are not merely documentary.


In the nineties, Damien Hirst gained international attention with the exhibition of dead animals in formaldehyde, among them a shark, and a sheep ( 'Away from the Flock', 1994). Damien Hirst also exhibits drugs and a room-sized installation Pharmacy (1992). In all these cases, we are dealing with displayed reality ('objet exposé'), not with mimesis.

In 1996, Damien Hirst made 'Hymn', a magnified anatomical model of the human body. An anatomical model is an instrumental imitation that is imitated in its turn on a larger scale and thereby loses its instrumental nature. Art hence....


A first series of installations of Lawrence Malstaf consists of displayed reality -
to be more precise: displayed processes. In 'Rope' (1999) a computer makes a rope turn around a chair, until it finally is thrown away.


In 'Fans' (2000), two ventilators, hanging on a rope above a black surface of water, fight a duel:


And in 'Tollen' ('Spinning Tops' 2006), Lawrence Malstaf manually starts up a number of spinning tops and has them interact with one another.

Next to processes, Lawrence Malstaf exhibits also himself. In “Shrink” (1995) he has himself vacuum-packed in plastic:


Neither the 'anti-automates', nor Malfstaf himself in 'Shrink' conjure up something other than themselves: no mimesis hence, but displayed reality. This is not a special form of theatre: no event or process is imitated, it is merely shown.

Other works of Lawrence Malstaf belong to spatial design or are non-verbal statements about the world...


Most works of Anthony Gormley are genuine sculptures (see: The abortive rebirth of the slaves).

In 2006, however, Anthony Gormley made an installation 'Blind Light' in the
Hayward Gallery in London. It consists of a room-sized glass box filled with a dense cloud of water vapour, lighted with neon lights. The visitor experiences the emergence of the figures of other visitors through the mist. These silhouettes, however impressive, are not thereby turned into sculptures. We are dealing here with mere displayed reality.

EVARISTTI MARCO (°1963 Santiago, Chile),

Evaristti came to international attention in 2000 with 'Helena', an installation with goldfish in electric blenders filled with water in Denmark’s Trapholt Art Museum. Visitors could choose to turn on the blenders and kill the fish. In January 2007, Evaristti held a dinner party where the main course consisted of agnolotti pasta topped with a meatball containing his own fat removed by liposuction from his body. In 2008, Gene Hathorn, a convict on death row in Texas, has agreed to have his body transformed into fish food for hundreds of goldfish in a huge aquarium, allegedly “to raise awareness of the fact that there are people killed legally in our Western civilisation”

In all these cases, we are not dealing with art, but with mere displayed (or staged) reality. To be sure, the artist pretends to convey a message, like in his other non-verbal statements. But in the case above, it is obvious that 'form' is more important than 'content': the message is a mere pretext for a sensational performance.

© Stefan Beyst

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