Visitors’ Profile, Directions 3: Eight Artists, Milwaukee Art Center, June 19 through August 8, 1971
Detail exhibition view at the
Milwaukee Art Center 1971,
color photograph, framed 40.3 x 26.5 cm
Questionnaire, 35.5 x 21.5 cm, framed 40.3 x 26.5 cm
544 questionnaires filled out by the visitors in
handwriting (total 4547 participants),
35.5 x 21.5 cm each
Detail view of the presentation of the
preliminary result at the Milwaukee Art Center 1971,
color photograph, 26.5 x 40.5 cm
20 Computer printouts of the results,
27.8 x 37.5 cm each,framed 32.7 x 42.5 cm each
Comment by the exhibition curator
John Lloyd Tayler ("Final Tabulations",
November, 10, 1971), 13.3 x 20.7 cm
Text by Hans Haacke
Beginning with Gallery-Goers Birthplace and Residence Profile, a participatory work in a solo exhibition at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York in November 1969, I conducted a number of polls in galleries, museums, and other art institutions, including Documenta 5 in 1972.
With the exception of the first poll at the Howard Wise Gallery and, as part of the “Information” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, voting on a topical political question (MoMA-Poll, 1970), all subsequent polls relied on a multiple-choice questionnaire comprised of ten demographic questions (e. g., age, religious affiliation, gender, residence, income) and ten questions on topical social and political issues. The appropriate answer had to be marked.
This was also the model for Visitor’s Profile, which was produced in the context of the exhibition “Directions 3: Eight Artists” at the Milwaukee Art Center (a museum in the American Middle West), from 19 June through 8 August 1971. The data from 4,547 completed questionnaires were processed electronically
by a team at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The questionnaire in Milwaukee matched the one that had been developed for a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum (except for one question). That exhibition was to have opened one-and-a-half months earlier. However, Thomas Messer, Director of the Museum, had cancelled the exhibition six weeks before
the scheduled opening, because he considered this poll and two works relating to New York real estate “inappropriate.”
Interim results were periodically posted in the exhibitions during the course of all polls. Thus the respondents were both witnessing and participating in an ongoing survey. And they were able to see their own position relative to the group to which they belonged. They contributed to a statistical group portrait that offered insight into the demographics and opinions of ist authors. The self-reflection of the audience not only suggested a reconsideration of its own social role but also that of the institutions for contemporary art that it visited.