Purple Cross for Absent Now

Croix pourpre pour présent absent

CR 68. Year 1979

Wv 68 Purple Cross 208
Wv 68 Purple Cross 198
Wv 68 Purple Cross 119
Wv 68 Purple Cross 086

    One person strangles another and thinks nothing of it because the reactions of the strangled are transmitted via TV. Being questioned on that, the majority of the audience answers: a symbol of suffering… It is not the myth of suffering however, which Gerz wants to put on a pedestal. He depicts conditions.

    Detlef Blümler 1989. Translated by e_CR editors

    Der Mensch stranguliert einen anderen und denkt sich nichts dabei, weil die Reaktion des Strangulierten via 'Television' ankommt. Darüber befragt …, antwortete ein großer Teil des Publikums: Sinnbild des Leidens. … Nicht dem Mythos vom Leiden will Gerz einen Sockel zimmern, er beschreibt Zustände.

    Detlef Blümler 1989

    According to Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the invisible cannot be simply reduced to the opposite of the visible, because "its absence counts in the world." Now, the performance Purple Cross for Absent Now - and the title clearly proclaims this - is based on an installation in which the artist has purposely absented himself from the audience. This absence is also signalled by the colour purple. ... Gerz shoots holes in one of the main arguments put forward by the avocates of the “communicator” society, that the sounds and images that make up information are our best bulwark against barbarism. … the installation demonstrates, on the contrary, the anesthetizing effect of the media, in wich representation, greathy surpassing reality, acquires a dereifying autonomy. The reproduction (the image) is no longer produced by the artist, it translates the audience’s behaviour.

    Jean-Michel Bouhours 2002

    Selon Merleau-Ponty, si l'invisible ne peut être réduit au simple contraire du visible, "c'est que son absence compte au monde". Or la performance Purple Cross for Absence Now - d'ailleurs le titre le clame clairement - est fondée sur un dispositif impliquant un public auquel l'artiste s'est volontairement soustrait. La couleur pourpre signale également cette absence. … Gerz prend à contre-pied l'un des principaux arguments des tenants de la société de consommation, selon lequel les images et les sons qui composent l'information seraient les meilleurs remparts contre la barbarie. … La pièce démontre au contraire l'effet anesthésiant des médias, où la représentation, prenant largement le pas sur la réalité, acquiert une autonomie déréalisante. La reproduction (l'image) n'est pas une production de l'artiste mais la traduction du comportement de celui qui la regarde.

    Jean-Michel Bouhours 2002

    Performance / Installation

    2 video cameras, 2 monitors, rubber cord, d = 1 cm, 4 black-lights, wooden niche (painted black inside), variable dimensions, monitor, video-disc player, white wooden pedestal, h = 135 cm

    The installation is preceded by a performance in which members of the audience touch a rubber cord leading into an adjacent room, where it is looped around the neck of Jochen Gerz. The cord tightens each time it is touched. In the installation, a monitor placed in a darkened room shows a recording of the 1980 performance at the Frankfurter Kunstverein. Esther Shalev-Gerz participates in subsequent performances. 

    See handwritten manuscript (mirror writing) of the same title (664), the edition (811) as well as a video documentation (683).

    Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz 
    Akademie der Künste, Berlin 


    Genève 1979. München 1979. Frankfurt 1980. Kassel 1987. Rennes 1987. Yokohama 1987. Karlsruhe 1988. Montréal 1989. Paris 1991. Vancouver 1994 (Newport Beach 1995. Purchase, 1996. Winnipeg 1996/97). Tel Aviv 1995. London 1996. Wiesbaden, 1997, Jena 2013, Berlin 2014. Liechtenstein 2015. Kaliningrad 2015. 


    I: Genève 1979, p. 36. Luzern 1979, pp. 102-103. München 1979a, p. 14. Frankfurt 1980, pp. 5, 7. Bielefeld 1981, pp. 12-14, 54-55, 114, 116. Paris 1981a, p. 302. Köln 1982b, pp. 168-169. Bielefeld 1985, p. 208. Kassel 1989, pp. 24-25. Bremen 1992, p. 132. Tarazona 1992, p. 89. Paris 1994a, p. 152. Vancouver 1994, pp. 42-43, 60. Tel Aviv 1995, pp. 50-51. Berlin 1996, p. 99. Wiesbaden 1997, pp. 13, 148-156. Zürich 2000, p. 111. Paris 2002, pp. 68-69. 

    II: Knapp 1979. Weskott 1979, p. 178. Beaucamp 1980. Haase 1, 1980, p. 2. Haase 2, 1980, p. 27. Nicol 1980, p. 7. Pohlen 1980. Schuchmann 1-3, 1980. Karcher 1987, p. 28. Schankweiler 1987. Malsch 1993, pp. 22-23, 30. Heck 1994, p. 39. Kriz 1994, Kuni 1997. Melten 4, 1997. Rudel 1, 1997

    III: Howell 1979, p. 7

    V: Karlsruhe 1988, p. 46. Blümler 1989, pp. 6-8. Malsch 1989, pp. 24, 32-33. Schneider 1991, p. 9. Wolf 1992, pp. 116ff., 226. Osswald 1994, p. 79. Frieling 1997, pp. 156-168. Drathen 2004, p. 108. Fritz 2013

    Access general bibliography


    b/w photographs of the Kassel performance 1987 (Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz)

    Exhibitions of the documentation

    Kassel 1989

    My name is Jochen Gerz