Unseen Acts: The Material Force of Nothing will turn to the precedent of conceptual art to reconsider what it means to be unseen, and how unseen art can act. It will examine three recent visual art exhibitions with “nothing” on display that consisted of largely overlapping archives by artists such as Yves Klein, Robert Barry, and Michael Asher, among others: A Brief History of Invisible Art at the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco, (2005–2006), Voids, a Retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2009), and Invisible: Art about the Unseen, 1957–2012 at the Hayward Gallery in London (2012). The article will examine how the claim of “nothing to see” operates performatively.

Aliza Shvarts is an artist, writer, and scholar whose work deals broadly with queer and feminist understandings of reproductive labor and temporality. She has been a guest speaker at the Brooklyn Museum, Recess Art Space, and on MTV. Her artwork has appeared in venues including MoMA PS1 in New York and the Tate Modern, and has been the subject of recent work by feminist art historians Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Wendy Steiner, and Jennifer Doyle. In 2014, she was an artist/scholar participant in the Art & Law Residency Program at Fordham Law School and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program as an arts writer. In addition to her art and critical writing practices, Shvarts is completing a PhD in performance studies at New York University.