Imagined Monochrome

It is an interesting quandary to consider whether a sculpture is characterised by its physical presence, or its physical effect on your body (and perception). I wonder if AK’s increasing mention of the idea of nothingness, of the primal chaos, has led him to explore no-thing-ness through the omission of the lump of sculpture itself, while retaining the sensory stuff.
Tempting as it is to drag Schrödinger’s cat screaming from Plato’s cave to explain this thought, I’ll resist in favour of a plain description.

As the work is effectively ‘by appointment only’, chances are that if you haven’t booked your ticket, the closest that you will get to the work is going to be a verbal form, however for those who would like to reconstruct the experience with friends, the following may be of some help.

  • 2 masseuses – Indian head variety (preferably), dressed in white.
  • Several ushers.
  • 1 dark industrial basement (ex-print works is recommended)
    Containing: ~ 2 specially fabricated interconnecting rooms within the space.

    • Room 1 (approx 10’x10’ x8’ high) painted neutral mid grey.


      • 2 doors, each in opposite walls opening outward from the room
      • 2 low plinth-like seats, white with no padding – against doorless walls
      • 2 flourescent lights – one behind each seat.
      • 2 short text instructions (Wait Here, Do as instructed, What to expect, etc) painted on wall above seats in black.

    • Room 2 (approx 10’x10’ x8’ high) painted white.

    • Contents:
      • 2 doors, each in opposite walls, one closed, one leading from previous (grey) room.
      • 1 massage table plus blanket (all white)
      • 1 bright daylight-white luminaire in ceiling immediately above massage table (luminaire approx same dimensions as massage table).


Upon arrival the subject is:

Received in lobby, checked against booking time and for medical conditions, then ushered downstairs into the basement.

Met in basement by masseuses, confirmed as fit, given instructions then put in grey room to adjust and wait.

Masseuses prepare, open interconnecting door and invite subject to de-shoe and lay upon massage table (fully clothed) face up.

Massage commences, during which a ‘monochrome’ condition is, or isn’t successfully imagined, depending on the subject, and prevailing conditions.

Subject leaves, sculpture leaves with them.


Clearly all of the concrete elements of this sculpture are common objects that can easily be encountered in a normal situation, however the sensory effects that mark this as an Anish Kapoor are more fugitive.

I have interviewed 3 people about their experiences during this process:
  1. Patient A (Little Hans) Imagined nothing unexpected.

  2. Patient B (Fräulein Elisabeth von R.) Had a visual sensation of colour consisting of two horizontal fields; a softly dappled green above and a rather muddy violet below.

  3. Patient C (Fräulein Lucy R) Experienced a highly animated range of imagined colours almost immediately the massage began, these increased in intensity until the temples were massaged, at which point a fully polychrome dragon made its appearance across the entire visual field.

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