Around a large and wide cone-shaped salt mound, a focused, genuflected Terence Koh baby steps on his knees, taking occasional breaks to stretch, lie on his stomach, or do an up-dog pose for relief. There seems to be no system other than to simply rest when tired (I counted his steps and there was no distinguishable pattern). Koh, dressed in his signature white garb, would look straight ahead, eyes set on going nowhere but around the salt. ‘Typical contemporary art’ may be a thought that comes when observing Koh’s performance piece, nothingtoodoo, on view at Mary Boone Gallery, as most guests thought it worth less than five minutes of their time, some literally quickly popping their heads in before deciding that they get the idea already. However, like a painting, there might be more to notice if observed for more than a few seconds.
Beyond sheer observation, there is a potential experience to be had. Like the idea of the piece’s title itself, there is something to do, and that is nothing. According to the gallery assistant, no press releases were even sent out for this exhibit, which demonstrates a strong commitment to the concept. This concept is so simple, clear and beautiful, yet an ironically difficult idea to get across. Koh remained unfazed with the gallery guests’ quick coming and going, their chit-chattiness in the quiet space, and their obvious need for something, a need that is antithetical to the overall idea of the piece. However, this need highlights the necessity to find nothingtoodoo.
If you have the opportunity to catch Koh’s piece, try to simply remain. As Koh says in his interview with AnOther Magazine, ‘… I was just on the verge of waking up and it came to me when I woke up that I had nothingtoodoo. This was everything I had toodoo. The world has too much everythingtoodoo. Let’s nothingtoodoo together.’
Simply allow yourself to stay, and you might find some inner peace, even for a moment. Like myself, you could walk quietly behind the artist, inaudible, creating my own quasi-performance of nothingtoodoo. Or, like myself, you can catch a rare opportunity to see Koh get teased by friends, causing the artist to crack a small smile.