Addressing the cultural shift toward a greater level of audience engagement and participation with works of art, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago
, presents Without You I'm Nothing: Art and Its Audience on view through May 1, 2011. Featuring works drawn from the MCA Collection, Without You Im Nothing charts the growth of this phenomenon over the past fifty years, where artists have increasingly involved the physical presence of their audience in the conception, production, and presentation of their work.
Beginning in the 1960s, Minimalist artists such as Carl Andre and Richard Serra used industrial materials to create sculptures that moved the object off the pedestal to the "real" space of the viewer, producing a new way of experiencing a work of art. The engagement of the viewer was extended in the 1970s in the work of Dennis Oppenheim, whose figurative sculptures were often triggered to move based on the movements of the audience, and Michelangelo Pistoletto, whose mirrored works combine figurative renderings with the viewer's reflected image.
Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, and Bruce Nauman emerged during this same time with work that often required the direct participation of the viewer to complete them. Their work had a profound influence on artists in the 1990s and 2000s, such as Liam Gillick, Jorge Pardo, Dan Peterman, and Andrea Zittel, whose artwork has become ever more reliant on the viewers direct and active engagement with the work itself.
Without You I'm Nothing is divided into two sections. The first section presents works that imply a responsive relationship with the audience -- either with the object requiring a bodily recognition, as in Richard Serras 3-ton Corten steel Five Plate Pentagon, or by how the visitors movement changes the way the work is perceived, as with Ed Paschkes hologram, No Fumare Por Favore. The second section consists of works that broaden the interaction between the artist, visitor, and object, often creating an opportunity for social discourse in a public space. While many of the works in the exhibition encourage audience interaction, others, like Imi Knoebels Untitled table-like form, only imply the possibility of use or function. Without You Im Nothing ultimately reflects the general shift in society and culture (particularly in the wake of the internet and social media) towards a more empowered and actively engaged audience.
Complementing the works on display in the exhibition is a program of live "Interactions" performance, sound, lectures, interventions, and dance - presented in the galleries beginning in January. These further emphasize the critical importance of interactivity and the physical relationship of the viewer in the experience of contemporary art as it is being created.