Robert Barry

Inert Gas Series/Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, Xenon/From a Measured Volume to Indefinite Expansion, 1969

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Testing the limits of materiality, Barry produced this poster for an exhibition that had neither a location nor a date. The address is a post-office box, and the telephone number for the gallery is an answering service with a recorded message describing the “work.” The work was the release, by the artist, of five measured volumes of odorless, colorless, noble gasses into the atmosphere in various locations surrounding Los Angeles, where they would diffuse and expand naturally into infinity.

While documentary photographs were taken of the action of the releases, the only physically tangible evidence of the work would remain the poster, published by the New York art dealer Seth Siegelaub, who stated, “He has done something and it’s definitely changing the world, however infinitesimally. He has put something into the world but you just can’t see it or measure it. Something real but imperceptible.”

https://www.moma.org/rails4/collection/works/109710?locale=en

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