Aleksandra Mir

No Smoking

NEW YORK—2004 Whitney Biennial. 16 Staples-bought plastic No Smoking signs were distributed and hung around the galleries of the Whitney Museum. The actual placement of each sign came from engaging with the other artists, who had a say in where the sign would appear in relation to their works. Some people didn’t like having the sign near their paitings or photos, in which case it wouldn’t be hung, and others put it right in the middle of their pieces. Dave Muller even made a reverse watercolor of it in his palindrome wall painting

This was the year that saw the smoking ban being implemented in New York, following at the heels of the dance ban in bars. I saw it all vanish without much protest and the fact that almost no one seems to even notice this work shows how comfortable we have become in being told what not to do, even in the most absurd conditions