It is with great sadness that we hear of the passing of Otto Piene on July 17, 2014. We are grateful to have had the recent opportunity to interview Mr. Piene about the historic exhibition that he organized at ICA fifty years ago.
ICA@50 ends with a reverse countdown to the organization’s very beginnings: the “zero zone” described by Otto Piene as a “zone of silence and pure possibilities for a new beginning.” A film by Korean artist Jeamin Cha accompanies this archival reflection on ICA’s Group ZERO exhibition.
A small catalogue and a few photographs are all that remain in the files for the historic Group ZERO exhibition at ICA. In an effort to rebuild the institute’s archive, I visited Otto Piene (b. 1928, Baad Laasphe, Germany; lives Groton, Massachusetts) at his residence to speak with him about his experience of organizing the show fifty years ago at the fledgling art museum. This interview is available for viewing in the gallery and on ICA’s website where select clips act as prompts for a collaborative text written with the artist Sreshta Rit Premnath (b. 1979, Bangalore, India; lives New York). Artist and editor of Shifter magazine, Premnath recently presented a solo exhibition Knot Not Nought, which explored the concept of the zero knot in mathematical, poetic, and philosophical terms. On view in the following pages, the text explores how Group ZERO’s and Piene’s interests remain relevant today.
Also available to view online is Jeamin Cha’s film and text, It is not a question but a balloon, 2010/2014.
The interview with Otto Piene has been made possible by the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Program in Contemporary Art.