Category Archives: Indoor Walks

Jean Tinguely and Willem Sandberg, Dylaby (1962)

Dylaby (1962), an exhibition organized by Stedelijk director Willem Sandberg in collaboration with the artist Jean Tinguely, transformed the museum into an immersive labyrinth. At times dark and disorienting, the participating artists—Tinguely with Niki de Saint Phalle, Daniel Spoerri, Per Olof Ultvedt, and Robert Rauschenberg—cluttered the galleries with physical obstacles that required visitors to navigate raised platforms, climbing structures, and false stairways amidst a cacophony of noise. A celebratory atmosphere likely tempered any frustration generated by the deliberate lack of clarity in the exhibition layout, as visitors gleefully fired BB guns and danced in a sea of floating balloons. Scholars have noted that Dylaby anticipated major trends that defined art of the 1960s and beyond: active participation supplanted passive spectatorship, and both experience and environment took precedence over the autonomous art object.[1]

Less frequently discussed, however, is the actual structure of Dylaby, which gave the exhibition its title—an abbreviated form of “dynamic labyrinth.” Dylaby was far from the only exhibition to foreground the labyrinth as a central motif, metaphor, and organizing principle. Following World War II, the labyrinth experienced a revival in popularity throughout Europe, evident in works by collectives like the Letterist International, the Situationist International, and the Nouveaux Réalistes, which counted Tinguely, Saint Phalle, and Spoerri among its members. …

Upon entering Dylaby, visitors plunged into darkness, feeling their way through a dark gallery littered with objects that Spoerri coated in an array of materials creating different textures and even varying temperatures. Throughout the installations, visitors navigated raised platforms, climbing structures, and false stairways. In a second environment by Spoerri, chairs, pedestals, and mannequins affixed to a wall created the illusion that the gallery had been flipped ninety degrees (fig. 5).[27] Ultvedt built an elevated walkway strewn with white shirts, which rotated on suspended turnstiles like floating specters, evoked in the work’s title, Doorloop met spoken (Walking with ghosts). In Raysse Beach, a jukebox played The Beach Boys while people danced among plastic balls and blow-up animals floating in a kiddie pool (fig. 6). Doing the twist in the raucous Raysse Beach had all the makings of what Jaffé would describe as the ritualized dance performed in the labyrinth. If Dylaby generated a disorientation akin to the chaos endemic to modernity, it also proffered the ludic means to work through and process that confusion.” [credit]

Benjamin Patterson, Man Who Runs (1963)

This work was presented as a map of the midtown New York Public Library, with arrows showing the route to run, from the main entrance up to the third floor and out again.

Critic Lori Waxman compares this score to Robert Filliou’s One-Minute Scenario (1963), and points out how race and place deeply affect these scores. Filliou is a white French Protestant with a glass eye referencing a hotel, while Patterson is a Black man and references the library.


Credit: Waxman, Lori. Keep Walking Intently: The Ambulatory Art of the Surrealists, the Situationist International, and Fluxus. Sternberg Press, 2017. Page 232.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Violin Phase from Fase: Four movements to the Music of Steve Reich (1982)

woman dancing in sand

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker

“MoMA’s Performance Exhibition Series presents a program of live performance and dance in conjunction with the group exhibition On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century. The dancing body has long been a subject matter for drawing, as seen in a variety of works included in this exhibition. These documentations show dance in two dimensions, allowing it to be seen in a gallery setting. But if one considers line as the trace of a point in motion—an idea at the core of this project—the very act of dance becomes a drawing, an insertion of line into time and the three-dimensional space of our lived world.

Choreography and dance: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker
Music: Steve Reich, “Violin Phase” (1967)
Violin: Shem Guibbory
Duration: 16 minutes
Created at the Dance Department of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, first performed in April 1981 at the Festival of Early Modern Dance, Purchase, New York.
Rosas is the dance ensemble and production structure built around the choreographer and dancer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Find out more at” [credit]

Trisha Brown, Walking on the Wall (1971)

people walking sideways on a wall

Trisha Brown – Walking on the Wall 1971

Walking on the Wall (1971) premiered at the Whitney and was performed again in 2010 during the Off the Wall exhibition at the Whitney. Trisha Brown originally performed the indoor work herself with her troupe, involved mounted tracks, ropes, and harnesses.

two people walking sideways on a wall

Trisha Brown – Walking on the Wall 1971 – detail

Andrea Fraser, “Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk” (1989)

Woman speaking next to water fountain

(credit) Andrea Fraser, Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk, 1989, video still, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk 1989 is a single channel colour video in which the American artist Andrea Fraser leads a tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the guise of a fictional docent named Jane Castleton. Dressed in a smart grey suit, Castleton, who introduces herself as a ‘guest’, ‘a volunteer’ and ‘an artist’, speaks directly to the camera as she walks around the museum. Alongside conventional elements of a gallery tour – such as the history of the institution and its collection – Castleton offers her thoughts on the building’s toilets, cloakroom and shop. She also pronounces, in strange digressions and with great passion, on broader political and social ideas. The language Fraser employs in her performance appears to be a parody of the descriptions commonly provided by docents, with Castleton applying extensive and exaggerated praise to the items she encounters. There is often an odd disjuncture between the docent’s words and the objects she is describing, such as when she points to an exit sign and claims, ‘this picture is a brilliant example of a brilliant school’. Throughout the tour Castleton repeatedly returns to questions of personal taste, and the notions of grace, dignity and order that she feels artworks, museums and gallery visitors should embody.

Museum Highlights originated as part of a lecture series organised by the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, with Fraser delivering five performances as Jane Castleton to visitors of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in February 1989. This filmed version of the tour, which does not feature a live audience, was shot and edited later in 1989. A script of Fraser’s performance was subsequently published with stage directions and footnotes in a German translation in 1990 (in the journal Durch) and in English in 1991 (in the journal October; see Fraser 1991, pp.104–22). The text incorporates multiple sources, listed in the credit sequence at the end of the film although mostly unacknowledged by Castleton during the tour, including historical documents relating to the establishment of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, biographical information about the museum’s donors, and quotations from philosophers, sociologists and political theorists.

Fraser created the persona of Jane Castleton after the American artist Allan McCollum suggested that she explore the role of the museum docent. Her first gallery tour, Damaged Goods Gallery Talk Starts Here 1986, involved a series of performances as Castleton, which were not filmed, at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. For Fraser, ‘Jane Castleton is neither a character nor an individual. She is an object, a site determined by a function. As a docent, she is the museum’s representative, and her function is, quite simply, to tell visitors what the museum wants – that is, to tell them what they can give to satisfy the museum’ (Fraser 2007, p.242).

In satirical fashion Castleton’s speeches in Museum Highlights draw particular attention to the assumptions that have historically been placed on the value of art, especially in relation to notions of class. For example, the docent claims during the tour, ‘The public, who buy clothes and table china and inexpensive jewelry, must be forced to raise their standards of taste by seeing the masterpieces of other civilizations and other centuries’. As art historian Alexander Alberro explains, ‘Fraser does not critique just the institution of the museum; by extension, she also analyzes the type of viewer the museum produces and the process of identification that artists embody’ (Alexander Alberro, ‘Introduction: Mimicry, Excess, Critique’, in Fraser 2007, p.xxvii).

Although Fraser abandoned the persona of Castleton after completing Museum Highlights, she continued her interest in the role of the docent in Welcome to the Wadsworth 1991, a live performance and subsequent video work involving a tour of the exterior of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut during which the institution’s relationship to the surrounding area is discussed. In her video Little Frank and His Carp 2001 (Tate T12324), Fraser performed as a visitor rather than a docent, walking around the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao listening to the institution’s official audio guide and enacting a series of increasingly sexual gestures in response to descriptions of the building’s architecture.

Fraser’s interest in exploring the purpose of art institutions, the official policies and unspoken assumptions that support their work, and the different roles played by individuals within the art world, have seen her work closely associated with the idea of institutional critique. This mode of practice, exemplified by the work of artists such as Hans Haacke and Michael Asher, emerged in the 1960s to examine the structures and ideologies underpinning museums and galleries.

Further reading
Andrea Fraser, ‘Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk’, October, vol.57, Summer 1991, pp.104–22.
Yilmaz Dziewior (ed.), Andrea Fraser: Works 1984–2003, exhibition catalogue, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Hamburg 2003, pp.114–15, 244–53.
Andrea Fraser, Museum Highlights: The Writings of Andrea Fraser, Cambridge, Massachusetts 2007, pp.95–114.

Richard Martin
July 2014