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A gallery in east London has just opened an exhibition that's permanently closed

By Matt Breen

What’s going on here?

Not much at all. The Chisenhale Gallery artist who’s currently exhibiting, Maria Eichhorn – well, she’s isn’t exhibiting. Instead, she’s closed the gallery down for the duration of the show and given the staff five weeks of paid time off.

That’s nice for them. But what about the rest of us?

You need to get on board with Eichhorn’s concept. What she’s trying to do is raise questions about the role that work plays in our everyday lives, and how it encroaches on our time.

Okay. But is this…

Seriously, don’t: PLEASE don’t ask if this is art.

Actually, I was going to ask whether closing a gallery to its visitors is the best way of getting these ideas across? Couldn’t she have just made some sculptures or videos? 

Maybe. But sometimes in order to make your point, you need to do something rather than make something. Like in the ’70s, when the artist Michael Asher removed a wall in an Los Angeles gallery so everyone could see the behind-the-scenes machinations in its office. It’s about screwing with the system. 

But wait, is Eichhorn really screwing with the system? The Chisenhale gets public funding, and it’s given her permission to do this. Aren’t we going round in circles here?

That does tend to happen when you start talking about art.

‘5 weeks, 25 days, 175 hours’ runs at the Chisenhale Gallery until May 29. Kind of.


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