work > Popularity

An interview about this work was published in the Spring 2015 issue of Canadian Theatre Review, "Performing Products", edited by T. Nikki Cesare Schotzko, Didier Morelli, and Isabel Stowell-Kaplan.

This public intervention involved coordinating over 750 counterfeit public visits to a single art exhibition.

Using funding awarded by the CALQ (Conseil des Arts et des Lettres de Quebec), the artist paid people to visit an undisclosed Montreal artist run centre and act as authentic spectators of the exhibition.

In this piece Schwebel paid 35 people per day to attend an art exhibition every day throughout the five weeks that the exhibition was open to the public. The visitors were instructed to behave as any art spectator would, to stand in the gallery looking at the work. The artist-run centre was not informed of the artist’s action, nor were they affiliated with him in any respect: they had no idea that this project was occurring, and so each visit to the gallery was, according to standard procedure, counted by gallery staff and submitted to an online database which registers the popularity of the gallery in relation to other galleries.

Any arts organization that receives Federal Canadian funding is required to report to CADAC, a web based application dedicated to the collection, dissemination and analysis of financial and statistical information about Canadian arts organizations. This project expresses a critique of the implication between the popularity of art and its support through funding initiatives.

The project was an attempt to effect statistics that measure the number of people who attend an art exhibition, and that effectively qualify the 'success' of art according to standards of popularity.