Options '09: Ding Ren

In the bathroom: "Why Does All Conceptual Art End Up Looking the Same? (Example 0)" by Ding Ren.
In the bathroom: "Why Does All Conceptual Art End Up Looking the Same? (Example 0)" by Ding Ren. (Ding Ren)
Friday, September 25, 2009

Two of the not-to-be-missed pieces at "Options '09" are so hard to find you might easily overlook them. Don't.

Called "Why Does All Conceptual Art End Up Looking the Same? (Example 0)," the first can be found in the bathroom, in the corner next to the toilet. It consists of the word "nothing" in plastic signboard letters taped to the wall just above a small hole. That's the easy one to spot. The second, called "Why Does All Conceptual Art End Up Looking the Same? (Example 1)," is an overhead thread -- nearly invisible -- that runs the length of the largest of three rooms. On one wall is written the tiny word "here"; at the other, the word "there."

One thing you shouldn't look for: deeper meaning. They're both goofs on the all-too-frequent silliness of conceptual art. The fact that the artist Ding Ren (herself a conceptual artist) has hidden the first one next to the john -- a sly nod to Marcel Duchamp's 1917 "sculpture" of a urinal -- is no accident.

And it's one of the show's most pleasant surprises.

-- Michael O'Sullivan


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