Invisual Art

Corina Mila
5 min readApr 26, 2018
Visual Art vs. Invisual Art

What is Invisual Art? — Only if I had a nickel for every time people asked me this question…

Invisual artists would say : An art without work of art, without author, without spectator.

So what is left? How far can be extended or reduced the concept of art? Does art depend exclusively on the object that reifies it?

Inspired by Brancusi, who stated that “The base was part of the sculpture”, Cézanne and Duchamp, Alexandre Gurita takes things further suggesting an art without traditional art: work of art, author, spectator. In order to clarify this from the beginning, invisual art does not mean general invisibility but an artistic one, which means that a certain practice or activity or even idea can be expressed in a non-visible artistic way. Invisual art has no purpose to show an image or an object that could be considered as art objects. (I know we are swimming in deep water here).

To better explain this let’s take the example of Plato’s beds. So Plato considered that there were three forms of existence for the same item. The bed was at the same time : a concept (the image that we have in our minds), an imitation of the concept (referring to the physical object, the actual bed we sleep in) and the imitation of an imitation of the concept (which was the painted bed).

For Plato the truth was beyond Art, in the World of Ideas, and in a very similar way Invisual Art believes that art can exclusively be located in this intellectual universe, art objects being unable to express completely the thoughts of an artist. And you can see that a painting, for example, is extremely restrictive for artists, and most of the time when we put old paintings under X-Rays we can see the numerous layers of painting and the fact that the artist changed his mind a lot of times while painting his subject. And this gives the possibility to Invisual art to claim that, through invisuality, art is not reduced but enriched, the artist being set free. The painter doesn’t have to paint anymore the same surface hundreds and hundreds of times in order to achieve perfection, he can just give his art, share it with the world as it is.

But let’s take a concrete example of an invisual artist. Ricardo Mbarkho (Lebanese artist) created in 2001 the National day of tabbouleh inviting Lebanese people to have the traditional dish together the same day, at the same moment. It’s not an artistic project in the visual way, but it underlies a different way of organization than the one that Contemporary art uses. He says that his art is invisual because “it’s not socioeconomically visual”. A practice, an activity, an idea that changed the world, at least at a national scale, is for him ART. And why not?

Another example would be Gary Bigot (Belgian artist) who stopped creating works of art and asked himself : If thermo-hygrographs are everywhere in the museums, is this not as much as art as the objects exhibited?

Gary Bigot — Termo-hygrograph, Galerie Jamar Antwerpen

So at first he made pictures of the thermo-hygrographs around the world and then just took the object with him all over the place, therefore people associated him to this item. But he never claimed it as a conceptual artist would, he just questioned the position of the thermo-hygrograph. Then the art world did everything for him. A lot of museums called to ask him to put his signature on thermo-hygrographs they had. (Yes, the art world is indeed addicted to objects). His invisual practice: not creating anything anymore, letting the others create in his behalf, if they really need it. Therefore no work of art, no author, no spectator.

Alexandre Gurita tested the limits of visual art until he crossed the line of the invisual suggesting his own wedding as art activity. Of course the question that pops in our minds is: ‘Why would a wedding be art?’ Because the artist is proposing a special ceremony as a practice, as an experiment, giving a different perspective and a different interpretation to a common reality.

Contexte — New technologies & Art Market

Our society is constantly dematerializating, uploading itself in the cloud, transforming progressively everything that is physical in virtual. Naturally, art is moving also towards dematerialization, anticipated already by the ultra-conceptualisme, as Lucy Lippard defines it in 1972:

“Such a trend appears to be provoking a profound dematerialization of art, especially of art as object, and if it continues to prevail, it may result in the object’s becoming wholly obsolete”.

Also, one of the main problems of Invisual art is the Art market, which for centuries already has been manipulating art and its economic value. Not making any art objects anymore implies getting rid of this “toxicity”, as Alexandre Gurita names it referring to Art market.

Invisual art comes with a solution : no more works of art, no more artists, no more audience. “Art for art” as artists claimed it years ago. But in this case ‘art for art’ meaning ‘art for the love of art, not for its added value’. Of course there could be an economic background for invisual art because artists still need to be rewarded for their hard work, but this is not related to the art market anymore, it’s about developing micro-economies and putting an end to monopoly.

Dividable to infinity as in Zeno’s paradox, because there are no more rules locking it down, the artist is free to create a new form of expression independent from the traditional works of art. No more audience, but a sorte of interactivity, a different connection established between the artist and the people, based on empirisme. No box for the invisual art, just the strong believe that ‘Everything is possible’.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to clap or share if you enjoyed the article.

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Corina Mila

Researcher in Literature and Art, aiming cultural individual education and trying to give the means to contemporary art and literature to reinvent themselves.