To Live



CR 40. Year 1974

Wv 40 To Live 040
Wv 40 To Live 019
Wv 40 To Live 074
Wv 40 To Live 176

At that point, the same bewilderment overcame her again. Nothing happened.

In his play of art/life, Jochen Gerz allots every recipient with a role. "The role of the one who has to make something out of the recipe and the ingredients of a piece not known in advance, and which is not preceded by an interpretation.” You came to look at something and now you have the feeling of being exhibited yourself.

Karlheinz Nowald 1984. Translated by eCR editors

Jochen Gerz gibt in seinem Kunst/Leben-Spiel jedem seiner Rezipienten eine Rolle, "die Rolle dessen, der aus der Rezeptur, aus den Ingredienzien dieses Stücks etwas zu machen hat, das nicht vorab bekannt ist, das nicht als Vorab-Interpretation mitgeliefert wird. Man war gekommen, etwas zu sehen, und nun hat man das Gefühl, man sei selbst ausgestellt.

Karlheinz Nowald 1984

What was I to do? Which rules should I follow, and which should I violate? Who would or could let me in on what the artist, or for that matter this whole situation, expected of me? This contradiction, this apparently insoluble problem, grew to assume proportions of a personal conflict, a conflict which began as helplessness and gradually, almost paradoxically took shape in the form of a tangible energy on the part of the viewer. In my case, this energy expressed itself in a physically perceptible palpitation of the heart. A trace of life itself, of a life customarily played out beyond its illustration and description, the same life which finally podded me to decide to cut through this Gordian knot: intentionally and consciously to destroy, to cut across part of a work of art…. It was I who began to feel myself where before I had only felt the work of art.

Peter Friese 1995

Installation, Performance

White oil chalk Typescript (framed), 27 x 60,5 cm

The word leben (to live) is written on the floor of a room (9 x 17 m) by hand. A framed typescript hangs on the front wall. To decipher the text, visitors must walk across the room, stepping on the chalk writing on the floor in the process.

Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris


I: Genève 1975. Karlsruhe 1975a, pp. 12, 130-131. Paris 1975a, pp. 12, 33-35, 60. Luzern 1979, p. 77. Bielefeld 1981, pp. 12, 40, 100. Düsseldorf 1988, pp. 29-31. Düsseldorf 1991, p. 218. Paris 1994b, p. 10. Vancouver 1994, pp. 42-43. Ostfildern 1995, pp. 36-37. Wien 1995, pp. 450-451. Wiesbaden 1997, pp. 11, 60, 62-65. New York 1998/99, pp. 224-227, Zürich 2000, p. 86. Lyon 2017, p. 166

II: Graf 1974. Metken 1975, p. 137. Parent 1976, pp. 32-33. Gatard 1978, pp. 34-35. Besson 1, 1985, pp. 14-15. Drateln 1989, p. 44. Koenneke 1991, p. 23. Béraud 1994, pp. 10-11. Fleck 1995, p. 74. Dering 1997. Die Tageszeitung, 23. 7. 1997. Feeser 1997. Fischer 3, 1997. Gries 1997. Grus 1997. Haase 2, 1997. Henke 1+2, 1997. Huther 1-5, 1997. Kuni 1997. Rudel 1, 1997. Völkel 1997. Wagner 2, 1997. Azami 2017. Lequeux 2017. Denave 2017

V: Skira 1976, p. 53. Wolf 1992, pp. 72, 204, Heinich 1998, p. 101, Valjas 2015, blog, Debary 2017, pp. 137, 168-169

VI: Schmidt 1978, p. 135

Access to general bibliography


Bochum 1974. Paris 1994. Wien 1995. Bochum 1996. Wiesbaden 1997. New York 1998/99. Paris 2017. Lyon 2017. 

My name is Jochen Gerz