Iván ArgoteFayçal Baghriche • Stijn van Dorpe • Brad Downey • Karsten Födinger • Andrew Gannon • Thomas Geiger • Eric Hattan • Harmen de Hoop • Florence Jung • Ben Kinmont • San Keller • Mikko Kuorinki • Paul Maheke • Antoanetta Marinov • Michikazu Matsune • Ana Navas • Natalie Obert • Tilsa Otta • Rosalie Schweiker • David Sherry • Pilvi Takala • Adrien Tirtiaux • Yann Vanderme • Jan Voss • Ella Ziegler • Hannes Zebedin
A text by Sophie Lapalu •  Contact •  Instagram •  Credits

Considering that the best way to keep a “performance” alive is to repeat it, the German artist Thomas Geiger invited 27 artists to share their inconspicuous concepts of art pieces dedicated to public space and its haphazard onlookers. During the month of October Geiger repeated these concepts himself within Brussels during the 1st Festival of Minimal Actions. The Festival took place in the frame of “Transformers” at Beursschouwburg.

A text by Thomas Geiger, performed by Philippe Severyns. Beursschouwburg, Brussels, 8 pm. Behind the associative sequence of short sentences written out of the First-Person-perspective a inventory is hidden with actions and interventions from several decades of art history.

4. Oct
Mikko Kuorinki FI

I leave a set of blank keys on the street. (First performed in Amsterdam, 2011.)

5. Oct
Adrien Tirtiaux BE

I wear shoes, socks and trousers of which the left part is colored in pink and walk the entire day in Charleroi or in a place which can be associated with this city. (Performed during Kunstvlaai in Amstelpark, Amsterdam, 2014.)

6. Oct
David Sherry NIR

I spend the day at a tram stop waiting on, running for and missing trams. (Performed in Amsterdam, 2012.)

7. Oct
San Keller CH

I carry the visitors of a museum upstairs to the exhibition space. (Performed at Kunsthaus Zürich, 2002.)

8. Oct
Iván Argote CO

I offer money to the people in the metro. (Performed in Paris, 2007.)

9. Oct
Harmen de Hoop NL

I restore a pedestrian crossing with everyday household paint. (Performed in Den Haag, 2007.)

10. Oct
Ella Ziegler DE

I remove the white lint from stranger’s clothing without comment. (Performed at Helmholzplatz, Berlin, 2009.)

11. Oct
Karsten Födinger DE

I place an advertisment in the newspaper offering to do repair work at people’s houses – till now nobody contacted me. (Premiere)

12. Oct
Paul Maheke FR

I cover a part of my clothes with a reflecting material and walk through the city streets, with the shiny surface facing the sun. (Proposal for a micro-choreography, Buenos Aires, 2011.)

13. 14. Oct
Pilvi Takala FI

I go shopping in a mall carrying a transparent plastic bag that contains about 1,000€ in 10, 20 and 50 notes. (Performed in Berlin, 2006.)

15. Oct
Fayçal Baghriche DZ/FR

I recite my CV in the metro. (Performed in Paris, 2003.)

16. Oct
Antoanetta Marinov IT

I go to various persons waiting on a metro platform and ask them if they could tie a yellow ribbon around my wrist. (Performed in Berlin, 2013.)

17. Oct
Jan Voss DE

I attach paintbrushes to my fork, spoon and knife and eat with them. (Premiere)

18. Oct
Thomas Geiger DE

I pass by the same beggar every two minutes and give him 20 cents. (Performed in Vienna, 2010.)

19. Oct
Andrew Gannon UK

I stand for one hour, balancing on the rim of an empty metal dustbin. (First performed in 2010.)

20. Oct
Brad Downey US

I cut salami slices into squares and place them on paving stones. (Intervention in Berlin, 2011.)

21. Oct
Michikazu Matsune JP

I wear a pair of women’s tights over my head like a robber and go shopping. (Performed in various cities, since 2012.)

22. Oct
Ana Navas VEN

I translate proverbs from my mother tongue into the national language and spread them in various ways throughout the city. (First performed in Mexico-City, 2009.)

23. Oct
Ben Kinmont US

I give out flyer to people in the street on which I am offering to visit them at home and to clean their dirty dishes. (Performed in Munich, 1994.)

24. Oct
Rosalie Schweiker CH

I have turned my daily work routine into a set of instructions for you: Get up at 7am / let the alarm snooze for 30 minutes / check emails and twitter on phone in bed / have breakfast / reply to emails on computer / send a proposal to Mariann Oppliger and Sophie Hofer / sign up for a cookery course / book a haircut / invite somebody whose work you like for a pizza dinner / have a shower / prepare packed lunch / bring bicycle to repair shop / walk to the train station whilst listening to the radio / take train to studio / ring Edwina Ashton to discuss her upcoming performance / pack parcels: a T-shirt and publication for Maria Guggenbichler / send a post card for Sabine Schweiker / go to post office / tidy up desk / make coffee / put on music / make a poster for San Keller’s next performance; scan and email poster to San / start writing a press release for a temporary shop and send the draft to Jo Waterhouse / eat packed lunch / re-pot plants / make a folder with images of past works and update your CV / go to a hard ware store and buy a 0.50 × 1.50 m MDF board / make MDF board into a sign that advertises tarot readings / make a list of things that need doing, divided in urgent and not so urgent / take the train home / on the train read “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” by Jo Freeman / pick up bike / send more emails / hang up washing / make a salad / cycle to an art gallery / see a show / go with other artists to the pub / drink beer / leave around 11pm / eat some fast food / cycle home / have sex / put alarm for 7am / fall asleep at around 1am. (Performed in London, 2014.)

25. Oct
Stijn van Dorpe BE

I take a ‘living room’ painting, travel by train to a big railway station, while acting ‘waiting’ I stay for one hour and go back by train to my home. (Performed at the TC Antwerp Central Station, 2014.)

26. Oct
Hannes Zebedin AT

I lift out and exchange three manhole covers. (Performed in East Bosnia, 2014.)

27. 28. 29. Oct
Eric Hattan CH

I walk to a district of the city which I don’t know at all, buy a whole new set of clothes there, change the clothes on the street, leave my old clothes on the street and walk around with the new clothes for the entire day. (A modification of the performance “Seven Days in Buenos Aires”, 2003.)

30. Oct
Natalie Obert DE

I lift out and exchange three manhole covers. (Performed in East Bosnia, 2014.)

31. Oct
Tilsa Otta PE

I write five sentences, almost short poems on everyday places. (Performed in Lima, 2012.)

1. Nov
Yann Vanderme FR

I pass the same zebra crossing again and again and again … (Performed in Grenoble, 2007.)

2. Nov
Florence Jung FR

A handbag is left in the exhibition space. Inside the bag is a theft report of this very bag, previously drafted by a policeman. On the back of this document is written a certificate of ownership of the artwork, which is lawful by the robbery only. (Performed at a secret location, 2012)


Whether a man is waiting for a bus, is giving money to a beggar or is crossing the road hardly matters; this series of gestures are more than banal. Someone changing clothes in the middle of the street might retain your attention a bit more, the same as that dress with a reflecting surface that shines in the sun. However, when slices of salami build a composition on the ground and when a passer-by is flaunting trousers with its left leg painted pink, this will insidiously induce an inconsistency in your well-regulated life. The peculiarity of these feats distinguishes them from the everlasting flow of non-events. It even seems as though some keep on repeating themselves … You have, but are not sure, noticed the same person repainting the pedestrian crossing the other day though he does not seem to be a municipal worker. Yesterday, all day long, he kept on taking a walk around the block. And what is he doing now using the zebra crossing over and over again?
Considering that the best way to keep a performance alive is to repeat it, the German artist Thomas Geiger has collected about twenty inconspicuous concepts of art pieces that had already been accomplished by their authors in public, for the haphazard onlookers. During the month of October 2014 he is going to repeat them himself within the Belgian capital during the festival he has created and aptly called the Festival of Minimal Actions.


The interventions described above do not correspond to our idea of a piece of art; they aren’t spectacular, need no kind of know-how, demonstrate no originality at all. Moreover, it seems established that art is visible in spatial and temporal places that have been dedicated to it during announced public manifestations, intended for a community of amateurs invited to assist to an event they have chosen. But here no indication is given as to location or time of performance; nobody knows anything about when and where the events will take place and nothing allows you to discern the artistic proposals from common gestures. It is thus impossible to attend the festival as spectator except, maybe, by chance, and surely without knowing it. And should, sometimes, the flimsy strangeness make a gesture visible, it will certainly not be as a piece of art. These œuvres are hence offered for free to those coming across them. The work proposed by Ivan Argote actually raises the entire ambiguity of a gift: he had tried to hand out a coin to users of the Parisian metro, all of them refusing to accept it (“I Just Want to Give You Money”, Paris, 2007).

It is interesting to notice that the chosen interventions often seem to be feats of artists at the beginning of their career, who by this mode of action find or have found a possibility to create while being relieved of budgetary and institutional burden. Dedicated to the economy of means — easy to produce and simple to execute — they are installed within public domain and are easily repeated. For instance, Fayçal Baghriche, at the time searching for a job as a young graduate of fine arts, was declaiming his curriculum vitæ in the Parisian metro (“The Job Market”, Paris, 2003). Thomas Geiger will repeat the rhetorical exercise, yet reciting his own CV. Being already hard to document these actions are even more difficult to exhibit. Often the compromises found are partial, even deceptive (bad photos, videos using a candid camera), and usually more than stress the absence of any artist. So the art market does not necessarily find therein an added value. Nonetheless this pecuniary issue is redundant within the gestures revealed; Pilvi Takala went walking on a daily basis for five days in a mall, with a transparent plastic bag full of bank notes, all well visible, (“Bag Lady”, Berlin, 2008), arousing multiple reactions. And even if I know nothing about Florence Jung’s initiative for the present festival, I can however confirm that the money matter is fundamental to this artist, who had rented the space that had been dedicated to her during the 58th Salon of Montrouge in 2013 to a caterer. She then redistributed the money thus gained to the participants of the competitive fair, all laureates of the “Prix Jung : Ici pas de perdant! (jung20)”. The Festival of Minimal Actions itself is self-financed by Thomas Geiger. Actually, the latter has been standing on the streets for four years now, holding a sign proclaiming “I want to become a millionaire”. He proposes to the intrigued passers-by to buy for 1€ a sheet of paper signed by him with a sequential number out of 1,000,000. Today, after more than 300 hours spent on the street, he has collected almost 14,000€ and financed a publishing house (Mark Pezinger Verlag) and, of course, this festival.


Repeated by Geiger, the works selected for the present manifestation feature in themselves a mode of very particular temporal existence; they are deployed along two settings. The first setting would be the one where the act is being accomplished, visible to all, nevertheless invisible as a work of art, whereas the second would be the apparition asa marker, i.e. the inscription of the intervention into a symbolic chain. However, the artists elaborate different strategies in order to make their furtive gesture intelligible as work of art.

Some, by repetition, end up catching a passer-by’s attention. The works then probably’ seem significant to the one coming across them: the tram driver had finally, so it appears, recognized that David Sherry was running behind the wagon for the nth time that very same day (“Waiting for the tram”, Amsterdam, 2012); the beggar could not ignore Thomas Geiger, who had walked him past unremittingly to give a coin each time he passed (“An Asshole moves in circles”, 2010, Vienna); the casual observers certainly noticed Yann Vanderme traversing the same pedestrian crossing several times in a row (“Démordre”, Grenoble, 2007). Now we imagine that the sensation of déja vu could digress, for whoever comes across these artists, towards a feeling of alarming strangeness … This feeling “is attached to things that have been known for a long time and have always been familiar (se rattache aux choses connues depuis longtemps et de tout temps familières) ”. In German, the Freud concept “das Unheimliche” (translated in French by Marie Bonaparte as the “alarming strangeness — l’inquiètante ètrangetè) has a double pattern of meanings. On the one hand, it refers to what is comforting, familiar (of the house, the home), on the other hand, it indicates what is secret, clandestine, furtive, dangerous. This dual sense seems to perfectly define the interventions described here: almost ordinary gestures, integrated within the repetition of our daily life (itself defined by its redundant nature), suddenly becoming unusual. The familiar bothers.

Some artists make their gestures appear thanks to another form of repetition: their publishing (“the act of making public”), more precisely within the domain of art: the videos that show David Sherry running behind the tram, for example, or the two photos of Stijn van Dorpe’s blog, showing him seated in the hall of a railway station, a panel painting beside him (“Waiting with a Painting”, Antwerp, 2014), which actually allowed Geiger to get to know his work. Publishing hence reveals the gesture as ‘having been’, while the artist himself is absent, and the art public late.

Whether in the one or the other case, repeating the intervention confirms itself as being indispensable to the affiliation of the overture to the artistic domain; it engraves the pure sign that the gesture had been into a symbolic chain — that of art — and assigns it a possible signification.


Finally, Thomas Geiger puts forward by means of this festival another type of repetition, by performing the interventions once again (the recurring ones just as the singular ones). Yet these œuvres were originally not intended to be reactivated, as opposed to music scores, for example, defined by Nelson Goodman as witnessed works. The score actually allows a virtually infinite execution of replicas; the author determines the modus operandi of the work of art so that it is afterwards realized infinitely. “(…) Le compositeur a fini son travail lorsqu’il a écrit sa partition, même si ce sont les exécutions qui sont les produits terminaux …” (meaning: The composer has finished his work after having written his score, even though its executions will be the final products …). However, by asking the artists to make him follow a pronouncement, Geiger transforms these works into initiatives to be reactivated. The presentation is no longer the object of a morbid portrayal, buried in the limbs of the white cube, it is reinstated into everyday life. At the risk of again remaining undiscovered.

Philippe Pirotte, in the catalogue of the exposition he realized in 2007 "Allan Kaprow. Art as Life" at the Kunsthalle of Berne, explains that Allan Kaprow — father of the Happening — considered each one of his activities to be unique, as occurrences located in time and space. In spite of this, he recreated quite a few of his Happenings during his life, which he considered being reinventions distinctly different from the original. So there was no nostalgia involved but rather a challenge to readapt an act of the past to the set of contemporary problems. What then mattered was that what he called the central metaphor would be maintained. Pirotte compares this strategy with regard to the future of the œuvre to oral tradition, where the preservation and interpretation of historical data are based on personal experience and the opinion of the interpreter.

Here, in contrast to Kaprow, the interpreter of the multiple actions of the Festival of Minimal Actions is not their author. The artists behind the works accept Thomas Geiger’s interpretation, to even admit several versions of the same work of art. The latter, not being ossified in one unique execution by far, is intensified by multiple personal experiences. By replication, these works are reinterpreted. Recurrence consequently emerges as a movement forward, allowing confirmation of the past experience as a possible future event. If, up to now, the public was confronting these works of art only as strange events or as past acts to be seized via their mediatisation, their repetitions by Thomas Geiger during the Festival of Minimal Actions, as palpable incarnations, prove on the contrary that these actions are yet to come.

— Sopie Lapalu


Concept: Thomas Geiger
Text: Sophie Lapalu
Translation: Danièle Goblet-Obert
Design: Astrid Seme, Studio

© 2014 Thomas Geiger, the artists and authors.
Thanks to all the artists contributing in the festival and sharing their concept & Beursschouwburg, Brussels for their support.

The festival has been made possible with the help of “I want to become a millionaire” and the special contributions by Bruno, Guy, Andrej, Vali, Edmondo, Dries, Stephane, Zoltan, Inca, Florin, Damian, Marian, Ivan, Daniel, David, Clement, Alexander, Tony, Jean-Luc, Michaiela, Said, Ulyss, Philippe, Simon, Sonthi, Jose, Artut, Jorge, Nelu, Yosef, Lica, Meli, Lessek and Kristof.