Allan Kaprow: YARD 1961/2014

Friday 4 July – Sunday 31 August, The Calder

The Hepworth Wakefield presents the first reinvention of Allan Kaprow's iconic environment YARD in the UK, featuring a series of interventions by Koo Jeong-A, Nicola Conibere, Janine Harrington, Rie Nakajima, Rivane Neuenschwander, Robbie Synge and David Toop.

YARD was first realised by artist Allan Kaprow (USA, 1927 – 2006) in 1961 in the open-air sculpture garden behind the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York as part of the group exhibition Environments, Situations, Spaces. Five existing sculptures in the courtyard, including works by Barbara Hepworth and Alberto Giacometti, were wrapped in protective tar paper before Kaprow filled the space with hundreds of car tyres. Dispersed in no particular order, Kaprow encouraged visitors to walk on, climb, rearrange and interact with them. 

Kaprow originally trained as a painter. However in the mid-1950s, after studying with John Cage at the pioneering interdisciplinary Black Mountain College in North Carolina, he moved away from producing autonomous art objects and began conceiving live events and environmental works that incorporated painting, installation, music, dance and everyday activities. Coining the term ‘Happening’ in 1958 to describe these events, though he later preferred the word ‘activities’, Kaprow envisaged them as ‘something spontaneous, something that just happens to happen’. They were designed to disrupt the relationship between artist, art work and audience, and cast everyday life as the primary subject matter of his art.

YARD is one of Kaprow’s earliest Environments, conceived by the artist as a transient, temporary work that invites public participation. Like most of his works, YARD was also conceived with the possibility of being re-staged, both by Kaprow himself during his lifetime, and also by others. Kaprow described all subsequent manifestations as 'reinventions', with an emphasis on reinterpreting the original idea rather than remaking as a direct copy. YARD has been re-invented over 23 times, though unlike many of his activities or environments, there are no definitive instructions, only hand-written notes and images of previous versions, allowing the work to be re-conceived each time it is presented.

For YARD 1961/2014 at The Calder, artists Koo Jeong-A and Rivane Neuenschwander, dance artists Nicola Conibere, Janine Harrington and Robbie Synge, and musicians David Toop and Rie Nakajima have been invited to present temporary performative and physical interventions within the environment.

The interventions will each examine the formal characteristics of YARD as well as the social and political dynamics embedded in the work, while always allowing visitors to engage with the installation as they please. Remnants of each intervention will accumulate in the space as YARD progresses, adding to the materials that visitors are encouraged to use.


4 – 13 July: Koo Jeong-A

17 July, 12 – 8.30pm: Robbie Synge

22 July – 10 August: Rivane Neuenschwander

16 August, 12 – 4.30pm: Janine Harrington

23 August, 12 ­– 4.30pm: Nicola Conibere

31 August, 2 – 4pm: David Toop and Rie Nakajima

With thanks to Tamara Bloomberg and the Allan Kaprow Estate, Siobhan Davies Dance and Kate Coyne, Pennine Tyres Ltd. and Dunlop Aircraft Tyres Limited and Machine Shop.

Allan Kaprow: YARD 1961/2014 will be installed in The Calder, The Hepworth Wakefield's new contemporary art space located in a 19th century mill next to the main building. 

The Calder is open 12 – 4.30pm Tuesday – Sunday. Closed Mondays except for bank holidays and during local school holidays. Open until 8.30pm on the third Thursday of the month and for Wakefield ArtWalk. 

Visitors to YARD at The Calder are invited to engage with the installation, moving and rearranging the tyres but in the interests of safety will be asked to read and adhere with safety guidelines. If you plan to interact with the work during your visit we advise that old clothes (that you don’t mind getting dirty) and suitable footwear (no heels or open toed shoes) are worn.

Free admission. 

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