Is there Life on Earth?

Y a-t-il la vie sur terre ?

Gibt es Leben auf der Erde?

C'e vita sulla terra?

CR 12. Year 1968/1970

Wv 12 Is There A Life On016
Wv 12 Is There A Life On009

Some people think that their anxiety and uneasiness is due to their growing incapacity to throw away, to destroy, ancient relics of their life which now burden them. These people consider that their ...

In many of Jochen Gerz’ works the visitor/recipient is invited to perform a specified act. The execution of this act, the participating person or the objects he has brought or made, constitute a key element of the work of art. Without interaction between the concept set out by the artist and the concrete response given by the participant the work would not come into being.

Marion Hohlfeldt 2000

Another aspect of these works is that these same works make us sensitive to "change" (both within the artwork in question, and beyond or outside it). These works often also "refer to" or "call to mind" or "evoke in us" history. But, being activated, we do not see in them works that force a vision of history on us. They create a free space: not only for the imagination but also for OUR conscience, our emotions, thoughts, memories. They leave us free to think, to feel, to choose a position vis à vis the past and the present.

A.B. Meadows 2010. Translated by e_CR editors

in anderer Aspekt dieser Arbeiten ist, daß sie uns für “Veränderung” sensibilisieren (sowohl im betreffenden Kunstwerk und jenseits oder außerhalb desselben). Oft ist es so, daß diese Arbeiten auf Geschichte, auf Erinnerungen an sie wie auch Emotionen und Gedanken über sie “verweisen”, sie “ins Bewußtsein bringen” oder sie “evozieren”. Aber, wenn wir aktiviert werden, sehen wir nicht in ihnen Werke, die uns eine Sicht der Geschichte auferlegen. Sie schaffen einen Freiraum: nicht nur für die Imagination, sondern auch für UNSER Gewissen, unsere Emotionen, Gedanken, Erinnerungen. Sie lassen uns die Freiheit zu denken, zu fühlen, eine Position zu wählen vis-à-vis der Vergangenheit und der Gegenwart.

A.B. Meadows 2010


Performance / Work in public space

Printed plastic bags with accompanying texts (ink on white and yellow paper)
Number of copies ca. 800, each 29.7 x 21 cm

Empty plastic bags with an accompanying text are mailed to friends, strangers from the Paris phone book and distributed to visitors to exhibitions. The recipients are invited to send things they no longer wish to possess. More than 300 bags are returned. They are sealed beneath 30 meters of concrete at the construction site of the Tour Montparnasse on April 16, 1970.

As most of the works in public space in the 60’s and early 70’s, Is there Life on Earth? was not commissioned.

See the single work with the same title (604) and the manuscript Ein Haus fur unsichtbare Bilder / Une maison
pour des tableaux invisibles (665).


Paris 1968 / 1970


Fürth 1969. Basel 1969. München 1970. Nice 1970. Brescia 1970. Milano 1971


I: Basel 1969/2, pp. 38-39. Fürth 1969, p. 18. München1971, pp. 64-65. Roma 1973, pp. 9, 11. Karlsruhe 1975a, pp.12, 112. Paris 1975a, pp.12, 50. Bielefeld 1981, pp.10, 84. Bolzano 1999, p. 99. Zürich 2000, p. 80. Bordeaux 2003, p. 237. Ivry-sur-Seine 2017, pp. 67-68, 70, 148-149

II: Red. 10, 1970, pp. 94-95. Red. 21, 1970, p. 35. Red. 26, 1970. Red. 3, 1971. Lenhard 1971. Padin 3, 1971

III: Sauerbier 1993, p. 22

V: Poinsot 1970, pp. 112-114. Bulkowski 1971, p. 7. Mayor 1972, p. 43. Lechner 1991, p. 144

VI: Napoli 1970, pp. 99-101

Access general bibliography


Remained Plastic bags and accompanying texts

Exhibitions of the Documentation

Los Angeles 1978 (New York 1978. Indianapolis 1978. New Orleans 1978), Bolzano 1999 (Kiel, Windsor Ontario, Tønder 2000)

My name is Jochen Gerz