For his 40th birthday, on 22 December 2021, Hannes Egger donates his work “7 Easy Exercises” to visitors of art institutions. It is an “audience performance” in which a voice gives instructions to the audience and invites them to actively participate in the performance.
By performing the exercises, the audience not only undergo their own intimate, physical, and intellectual experiences but also place themselves and others present at centre stage. The artist sums up the experience of his audio performances with the slogan “The Artist is Absent – Perform yourself”: by activating the bodies of the audience members, their vital position in the exhibition context becomes clear, because what would an exhibition be without visitors? Is it not these very people who bring exhibitions to life through their presence, their physicality, their relationships, their intellectual connections, and their imagination? Can there even be exhibitions without visitors?
Many exhibition venues and those working in the cultural sector experienced the frustration of running exhibitions without visitors during the pandemic-induced closures. During this time (and rightly so) there was a lot of talk about the needs of artists and cultural workers, but little was said about the needs of the public. Didn’t the public, who could not visit exhibitions, also suffer from this situation? A curious public stood in front of closed doors and were, in a sense, excluded from a habitat that was important to them. They could no longer participate in the art scene because it was taking place behind closed doors. Doesn’t the art world now have to take a big step towards the audience, bow deeply to them and rethink art with them both during and after the pandemic?
Hannes Egger wants to thank the art public and is dedicating this work to them by sending it, stored on headphones, to 40 selected museums on his birthday. These museums are free to include it in their collections and make it accessible to the public.
Hannes Egger’s artistic practice is characterised by its conceptual approach, one that aims to involve and interact with the audience. His performances, installations, and participatory projects invite people to adopt an unusual stance or point of view so as to reflect on the reality that surrounds them and the way in which we share the environment we inhabit. His concept of art is not based upon work in the conventional sense, but rather consists of creating situations in the sense of open and emergent platforms. Egger often gives precise coordinates or instructions for the audience in his works, thus turning the action of the participants – or even the participants themselves – into a work of art.