nothingtoodoo is the latest work by Beijing-born, Canadian-based artist Terrence Koh. The work is part installation and part performance. It consists of a large mound of white salt, around which Koh circles in a white suit on his knees. Koh has continued this ritual since the opening of the work at Mary Boone Gallery in New York City on the 12th of February, and intends to continue it until its closing on the 19th of March. This kind of duration performance reminds me instantly of Marina Abromovic’s The Artist is Present, which was performed at the Museum of Modern Art midway through last year.

Roberta Smith, writing for the New York times, says:

This is performance art reduced to a bare and relentless rite in a space that has been stripped down to a kind of temple.


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  1. Although I recognize the obvious minimalistelement of Koh’s performance, his art never fails to make me cock my head to the side and wonder, “Really?”.

  2. When I see art like this I want to “graffiti” on it in an act of … “Why-is-this-so-important-to-you?”.

    I think id toss a few gallons of water on that heap. Or slugs. Or both. Or maybe a pig.

  3. Derek, that’s kinda the reaction the artist is looking for.

    _Why_ that is his goal eludes me.

  4. Major Bummer

    Well, I don’t get it.

    I like the salt, it reminds me of Anish Kapoor and Wolfgang Laib, but why walk around it on your knees? It seems to me just a waste of energy. Instead he’d better go to Japan and give a hand there. This is the kind of performance I just don’t seem to get.

    Ps. And please, don’t come with the answer that this question is exactlty what the artist had in mind when he came up with the idea for this performance. There are far too many artist (and some in a much better way) who asked of me the same thing and it really really gets boring.

    But the salt is great.

  5. “…and it really really gets boring”
    I appreciate the first incarnations of 4’33”, blank canvases, etc. as explorations of the outer boundaries of art. They added something to the field. Someone had to go there and honestly examine those limits – once.
    nothingtoodoo and its ilk add…what? why again after so many other equivalent works?

  6. Major Bummer

    Maybe the goal of the artist is to bore me?
    Congrats; it worked!

    Still like the salt though.

  7. The role of contemporary art is to create an arena for discourse.

    Based on the comments above, Mr. Koh has succeeded.

  8. Major Bummer

    Yeah well, if I will put a fresh turt on my head and dance the ‘horlepiep’ (a native Dutch dance) naked I’m sure I will ‘create an arena for discourse’. Does this makes it art?

    And yes, here we go again the po-mo question; what is art? This is sooo 1980’s and exactly what I meant with booooooring.

  9. I’m performing a new piece today. It’s called “Not enough time to do the things I want.”

    I’ll be performing menial tasks at my job. Boring and meaningless, yet somehow the pain is dulled with payment. I believe it to be an interestinglook at humanity’s ability to settle for less and negate from happiness in search of happiness.

    Pay me money now, I’m an artist. It doesn’t even have to be a lot of money. Just enough for me to live today without stress.

  10. “…to create an arena for discourse.”

    Not like our society doesn’t have enough discourse about little of importance.

  11. “Pay me money now, I’m an artist.”
    Seems the sentiment indeed: a simple declaration of self-importance, coupled with a bit of effort unto no inherent value, and somehow this is enough to warrant coercing large amounts of money out of taxpayer pockets (fair to assume it is, in significant part, “publicly” funded).
    Want some minimal art of value? Tape a webcam to one’s head and go shovel rubble, or hand out MREs, in Japan while the feed is shown live on an HDTV in the gallery – inviting the viewers to contemplate what the he11 they’re doing standing in an otherwise empty room watching someone do something charitable.

  12. Major Bummer

    He he he, wel all seem to agree that Mr. Koh has succeeded in creating himself a great deal of pain (in his knees) for the good of absolutely nothing except the fact that a lot of people think its really boring and very stupid indeed.

    Congrats Mr. Koh. We all can’t understand so it must be art.

    Ps. I still like the pile of salt though.
    Ps. Maybe he is one of those Catholics who punnish themself during Eastern to recreate the passion of Christ?

  13. Why don’t you want to yell at Picasso and ask of it “why is it so important to you?” because it has been accepted already? I dont’t understand why your personal dislike for the piece calls for the question of “is it art.” He made it as an art piece, and perhaps it’s a “bad work of art” but why must we have a discussion of it from the not art, yes art perspective? Can’t we just talk about it from the “why it doesn’t work for you” perspective? I find it perfectly interesting and legitimate to dislike the piece but I don’t understand why that calls for such disrespect and hatred, from ppl who just can’t accept when something they can’t accept being accepted or even liked by others. Is it because he is getting paid? Well no one is trying to pull anything here, perhaps it seems really insincere and stupid to you but does that mean only things that add obvious value to everyone’s lives be paid? Obviously there are those who believe in his work, whether everyone feels the same or not.

  14. All of you criticizing it for not being art and saying you could do “useless” things and call it art. Maybe you COULD but guess what… you DIDN’T. And even if you did do you think you’d be in blogs with tens of comments debating it afterwords? Probably not. Bummer.



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