Doing nothing and calling it art

Grayson Perry in The Times of London:

My editor thought I might like to write about an artist called Chloe Steele. She is one of 15 artists taking part in a project called Residue. This is the final series of shows organised by First Site at the Minories gallery in Colchester before they move to their swanky new home. What caught the attention of a newsman is that Chloe Steele’s proposal for this residency was to do nothing, not anything, zilch, nil. Maybe he thought there was a possibility of stirring up some public outrage: “artist does nothing with public money!”

Art history over the last century or so is punctuated by acts that to many seem ridiculous or offensive. The first and most influential must be Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, of 1917, in which he showed us, by displaying a ready-made urinal, that art can be anything an artist chooses.

In 1953 Robert Rauschenberg performed an artistic oedipal act using 40 erasers to rub out a drawing by Willem de Kooning. In 1960 Yves Klein made prints by pressing nude female models covered in his characteristic blue paint on to paper in front of an invited audience perched on gilt chairs.

In his 1961 work Merda d’artista, Piero Manzoni canned his own excrement and sold it for the equivalent weight in gold.

More here.