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100,000 people flock to see new art exhibition despite gallery being EMPTY

The empty exhibition space turned out to be a big draw

An empty art gallery attracted more than 100,000 visitors after the artist cancelled her show due to funding issues.

Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art says the space left empty after Dutch artist Marlie Mul called off her exhibition has been a surprise hit.

She refused to produce any art for her exhibition, but suggested the show could go on, billed as “This Exhibition Has Been Cancelled”.

Visitors were greeted by 21 billboards on the windows from May to October, explaining the cancellation of the exhibition, which ran for five months.

The gallery’s curator Will Cooper said: “By removing what would traditionally be considered an art object we are instead presenting the gallery as an empty space, giving us a moment to question the value in turning over exhibition after exhibition after exhibition.”

Dutch artist Marlie Mul called off her exhibition

Ms Mul blamed a lack of funding and issues with health and safety regulations for her decision not to display anything other than signs saying the show had been called off.

The Brussels-based artist said: “I specifically told the gallery to use the vacant space in which ever way they thought would be most suitable.

“It was their idea to use this as an opportunity for members of the public to apply to do events in the space.”

There were 108,756 visitors to Gallery 1, on GoMA’s ground floor, while the cancelled exhibition was in place.

Renowned artist Frank To said GoMA’s reputation as an international hub for modern art meant visitors would have been keen to see the venue stripped back.

And the Perth College lecturer praised an initiative that saw the public invited to propose alternative uses for the space during the June to October run as being another reason for numbers being so high.

Mr To said: “I think Marlie Mul was not questioning the work in the space but the space itself, and that’s where a lot of contemporary art is at.

“Anything to do with taxpayers’ money gives the artist a moral obligation to give something back.

“The community projects are a reasonable way for artists to be accessing public money.”

But critics have pointed to more than £11,000 of public money spent on the project at the gallery, where the Duke of Wellington famously stands guard, usually wearing a traffic cone.

Glasgow Life, the arms-length body that manages the city’s galleries, confirmed £11,500 was allocated as a maximum expenditure towards the exhibition, of which £11,077 was spent.

It refused to say how much Ms Mul was paid. Glasgow City Council last week confirmed it has a budget black hole of £33 million following the Scottish Government’s latest funding allocation. It also expects gaps in the following two financial years.

Labour MSP James Kelly said the cost was too high: “The people of Glasgow will not take kindly to such extravagance.”

Conservative shadow culture secretary Rachael Hamilton added: “While everyone’s idea of art is different, this really is pushing the tolerance of taxpayers.”

But Glasgow Life said: “More than 100,000 people visited the exhibition and feedback has been very positive.”

Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (Image: Finlay McWalter)

The Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow is not the first empty room to win acclaim.

Artist Martin Creed won the Turner Prize in 2001 with his “Work No. 227: The lights going on and off” which was an empty room…with the lights going on and off every five seconds.

The work, with an estimated value of £110,000, was later bought by the prestigious Tate gallery in London.

Art critic Louisa Buck said: “It is a sober minimalist piece in a long line of artists using everyday materials for potent formal and psychological effect.”

In 1958, Yves Klein produced a similar masterpiece, Void, a white-washed room albeit with the lights left on.

Composer John Cage wrote 4’33 – four minutes, thirty three seconds – in 1952 when musicians were instructed not to play their instruments.

The Pompidou Centre in Paris staged an exhibition to the art of nothing , in nine empty rooms.

Posted in: News on January 2, 2018 by...