The term art intervention applies to art designed specifically to interact with an existing structure or situation, be it another artwork, the audience, an institution or in the public domain
The popularity for art interventions emerged in the 1960s, when artists attempted to radically transform the role of the artist in society, and thereby society itself. They are most commonly associated with conceptual art and performance art.
The French filmmaker and writer Guy Debord, founder of situationism, wished to eliminate the spectator’s position. In 1960 he devised a raid on an international art conference in Belgium. Other collectives, like the Artist Placement Group (APG) in London attempted to reposition the role of the artist in a wider social and political context using art interventions. They acted outside the conventional gallery system, placing artists within industry and government departments in order to effect change. Such interventions served as a catalyst for artist-in-residence schemes and community programmes.
Roman Ondak’s Measuring the Universe
Roman Ondak’s Measuring the Universe at Tate St Ives 2011 transformed an empty white room into a constellation of black marks through the contribution of around 90’000 participants.
Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth
In 2007 Doris Salcedo responded to her commission to make a work of art for the vast Turbine Hall at Tate Modern by creating a long snaking fissure that runs the vast length of the floor of the space – as if striking the very foundations of the museum.