Public Space / Two Audiences

Works and Documents from the Herbert Collection, inventaire

February 08 – May 01, 2006

Installation view of Public Space / Two Audiences, Macba Barcelona, 2006
Installation view of Public Space / Two Audiences, Macba Barcelona, 2006
12 Diwans of Franz West at the Macba Barcelona, 2006

In close collaboration with Macba director Manuel J. Borja-Villel, the Herbert Collection was exhibited during three months in Barcelona in 2006. The opening date was chosen to coincide with the start of ArcoMadrid, one of Europe’s largest art fairs. To counterbalance the commercialism that characterises so much of today’s art world, a public debate was held during the opening. Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden from Art & Language, Robert Barry, John Baldessari, Daniel Buren, Luciano Fabro and Lawrence Weiner were among those who participated in these conversations about the reinterpretation of conceptual art.

With its large white spaces the Macba represented a classical example of contemporary museum architecture. The building’s entire gallery space was devoted to the Collection, and with more than 150 works on view, this exhibition represented the museum display of the Collection.
Donald Judd’s Untitled, Sol LeWitt’s Incomplete Open Cubes and also Dan Graham’s Public Space / Two Audiences were on view in the monumental entry hall. Created in 1976 for the Venice Biennale, this work features participants in two rooms who, separated by a glass partition, can’t directly communicate with each other. The work explores the resulting dynamic and tension between looking and being seen, between union and separation.

This time too, the exhibition title Public Space / Two Audiences pointed to the stage the Collection then found itself in. At the time of the exhibition, the Herberts had started working on a permanent and public home for the Collection and the Archive in Ghent. The creation of a foundation as a ‘public space’ implied an inevitable meeting with an ‘audience’.

The term inventaire was chosen as a subtitle. It was meant to indicate that, though not yet finished, through the exhibition the Collection was readying itself for the next phase – that of permanence.