Since its debut in 2016, conceptual pioneer Lawrence Weiner’s “OUT OF SIGHT” has toured the globe extensively. The interactive and participatory public artwork has been installed in locations from Pérez Art Museum Miami to the National Gallery of Art, Singapore, becoming particularly popular with young audiences. Later this month, the artist’s project will make its biggest splash yet when it lands at Art Basel in Switzerland.
Over Art Basel, from June 16 to 19, “OUT OF SIGHT” will occupy Basel’s Messeplatz in the largest installation of Weiner’s work and in four languages, English, German, French, and Italian. Billed as a “social sculpture,” the floor installation fills out a hopscotch-styled grid with quotes like “Imagined Things Can Be Altered to Suit” and “One Can Only Imagine The Powers That Be.” Audiences are invited to interact with the work, whether by physically walking across the installation or by reflecting on the work’s prompts.
Weiner himself has highlighted how the project encourages self-discovery among participants. “A person coming in with whatever situation they find it, young, old or indifferent, the minute they have any thoughts about themselves going from here to there,” he’s said of the installation, “will be able to stand still and realize they first have to imagine themselves doing it — that’s assuming a position.”
Why it matters
As it inspires participants to ponder the direction of their lives in a fun and interactive way, Weiner’s “OUT OF SIGHT” has resonated especially with younger audiences. Its site is stacked with feedback from children and adolescents who share their deep engagement with the work. “I think ‘OUT OF SIGHT’ is extremely relatable for teenagers and what people our age are thinking about: school, family, life choices,” said a Melbourne attendee named Mia. “It’s kind of reassuring.”
In this, the installation might offer for cultural organizations insight into how to design experiences for young individuals by balancing play with emotional impact. Such interaction, after all, was what drove Weiner’s work — and it’s fitting that his legacy is sustained in this social and participatory a project. “People make art for other people,” he said in 2020. “That’s not populist — that’s just giving somebody something they can use. And that’s why the work that I make is about giving the world something it can use.”
What they said
“We are delighted to feature ‘OUT OF SIGHT’ by Lawrence Weiner as this year’s Messeplatz project. Lawrence ranked among the greatest artists of his generation and was a frequent visitor to our fairs. The way Lawrence led his life as an artist, mixing rigor and humor, was and continues to be an inspiration to younger artists.” — Marc Spiegler, Global Director, Art Basel