the void in the arts: the artist point of view

I would like to empty the topic of void in the arts but alas, that is not possible. Here is an attempt nonetheless.

What are we saying when we say nothing? When there is no happening?

Is art in the eye of the beholder?

From the drawing of a box which contains a sheep in Le Petit Prince to the work of an Italian artist which consist of a few stretches of tape around nothing, what is the place of void in the arts? Which place is reserved for nothingness, for the number zero?

In mathematics, zero is such a central piece that it was difficult for Europeans academics to accept its role in knowledge for quite a time. Zero allows you to do nothing (if you add zero to any number, you only get this number) and to destroy everything at the same time (if you multiply any number by zero, it disappears).

Maybe that art is on the same road… Maybe that we are in the first few years of nothingness in the arts, and the concept with wrap itself together in our collective mind?

Some people say that all of humanity problems stems from our inability at standing still in a room everyday. Something must happen, something must be done - we have to live. And living is doing.

So when the artist comes along and present a form or another of voidness as art, we are schocked: whom do they think they are?

For some of us, artists or not, void is a kind of big bang, of making tabula rasa to be able to start anew from there. For other, voidness is silence, a deafening silence - is it a work of art though ? Not really…

What is a work of art, then?

We have many other idiomatic expressions related to emptiness: l’art de faire le vide, l’art de ne rien faire - but doing nothing is again doing something.

If I say, I am doing nothing, and I tell it to someone, am I actively doing nothing? Am I really doing nothing?

Saying nothing, doing nothing is maybe the only way to bring the light on arts as a process instead of a result, of an object.

Emptiness as an antidote to aesthetics of exhaustion: how can you say everything about nothing?

to go further


Tehching Hsieh - One Year performance

book written without the letter e

art & language, AC show

no code: null programs

delete game jam

a metal cover of 4’33

list of void artworks


tate museum

book the void in the arts

vides: a retrospective




1485: number zero, from italian zero, contraction from zefiro, from medieval latin zephirum, a transcription of the arabic ṣĭfr, the void.

an history of zero

math/physics and the void