While Yves Klein was alive he devoted much of his time and energy to creating art that defied traditional expectations and mediums. His goal was to create a kind of pure art that existed in the experience of the viewer rather than in the form of a material object or commercial asset. His legacy lives on in the form of video, performance, and conceptual artists working today. Here at the Waymaker Gallery we wanted to present his work in a manner relevant to this contemporary context, feeling that too often retrospectives of his work primarily showcase his material output and reference his ambitious performative works only via dusty photographs trapped behind inch thick glass. We feel that Klein's most remarkable achievement was way that he re-envisioned the very nature of art making. His is not a body of work that can represented through relics, it must be reborn completely or else only serve to perpetuate the antiquated systems of thinking that he challenged while alive.
It is with this goal in mind that we took on the ambitious task of installing "The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility, The Void". As he described the project in his own words:
In other words, the gallery was filled with no material objects or artifacts, only the auratic tension produced by works of art.
The gallery space retained only a large cabinet, too difficult to remove, and some blue curtains hanging in the lobby. We have tried to replicate these conditions in our own space though, due to issues with the local fire code, the curtains needed to be raised several feet off of the ground. The Void, so often featured in Yves Klein's work, is more relevant today than in his own lifetime. As a society, we are in the process of dematerializing almost every aspect of our lives, to such extent that we ourselves seem on the verge of vanishing. It began with miniaturization, making things smaller and smaller and ever more accessible. Telephones became unmoored from the lines that bound them to the land and computers have evolved from room sized behemoths into purse-sized accessories. Now, even something that can fit into a pocket is simply too large, and many people are storing their information on clouds that float in the air over Google's headquarters, accessing distant computers and processors via satellite signals passing effortlessly through The Void of space. Movies are filmed in green caverns where actors call out their lines alone and, only later do teams of forgettable names in dark rooms define the world around them. Eventually we will exist primarily as bits of information dashing back and forth between the earth and the stars, spirits for whom our bodies merely represent a marginally relevant timeline.
It is in this climate of impending immateriality that we decided to re−invoke the pictorial sensibility of Klein's original show, believing that perhaps now, themselves trapped in a liminal state between embodiment and essence, viewers might be able to see the artworks at last. In the hopes of exhibiting his work in the only manner appropriate to his sensibility, we decided to perform a series of séances. We hired professional mediums to conjure the ghost of Yves Klein so that it could assist us in our endeavors. It took teams of mediums working around the clock and, though we could only interpret his response through these mediums, he seemed pleased with our implementation of his radiant exhibition.