In 1958, the young Yves Klein turned the Parisian art world on its head with a highly ritualised conceptual exhibition at the legendary Galerie Iris Clert. Titled 'Le Vide' (The Void), the installation consisted of absolutely nothing - nothing, that is, except for the sensual experience of pure space. From his celebrated monochrome paintings executed in his patented 'International Klein Blue' to the more mysterious object-painting 'Ci-gît l'espace' (Here Lies Space), completed shortly before his untimely death in 1962, Klein explored the mysteries of space as a state of heightened sensibility.
Thirty years later, thousands of miles away in his studio in New York, the young American conceptual artist Tom Friedman unknowingly conjured up the spirit of Yves Klein in his mysterious (non-)sculpture 'Untitled (A Curse)', 1992. In the footsteps of Klein, as well as other conceptually-based artists such as James Lee Byars, Joseph Beuys or Bruce Nauman, Friedman imbues his works with a kind of transcendental, telekinetic energy that challenges conventions of what sculpture can be, while at the same time inviting the viewer to participate in a sensual ritual of self-exploration.
In his enigmatic work 'Untitled (A Curse)', Tom Friedman presents the viewer with a simple plinth upon which - it appears - nothing rests. Yet, like Yves Klein's 'Void', Friedman's plinth supports both nothing and something at the same time, for the space above it has been cursed! A treatise on presence and absence, Friedman's cursed air activates the viewer's imagination, while at the same time arousing his sensibility of the space that has now magically become perceptible. Like Joseph Beuys before him, Friedman transforms the creative process from labour intensive work into ceremonious ritual. In all cases, Friedman's works speak of human presence and eschew the separateness of 'art pour l'art' by ritualising the creative process, in which both the artist and viewer participate in ceremonial collaboration.
"I started '1,000 Hours of Staring' at about the same time I did the 'Untitled (A Curse)' (1992) in which I had a witch curse a spherical space above a pedestal, and the piece 'Hot Balls' (1992), where I stole a bunch of balls from various stores. At the time I was thinking about how one's knowledge of the history behind something affects one's thinking about that thing. While going through the process of giving these objects a history I thought about documenting this process in order to make things more believable. I decided not to because I like how the idea of believability created in the object a line between the ordinary and the fantastic." (T. Friedman, in: B. Hainley, D. Cooper, A. Searle (eds.), 'Tom Friedman', London 2001, p. 130.)