Silence and the possibilities that can emerge from nothingness, the Zero Group is a significant post-war art philosophy and counter movement of new beginnings co-founded by Otto Piene and Heinz Mack, Zero in the 1950s. Now an intentional movement, ZERO (capitalised) artists include a range of practitioners connected by art processes that make use of action and reaction, nature and incidence, an exploitation of the familiar and destructive processes as a vehicle for creating the new.
It’s interesting to note that the movement has received sustained critical attention since the 1990s, rising concurrently with our increased understanding of the links between capitalism and environmental degradation; a time characterised by a type of destruction that in some ways mirrors the post-war era from which the Zero Group emerged. The use of materials and methods sympathetic to capitalism (i.e. commercially available products and the use of popular media to spread the group’s messages) as a means of critiquing capitalism also means that Zero is perpetually ‘modern’; it is contemporary as long as capitalism (the reference) survives. And perhaps, as the movement moves into its 7th decade, that is what Zero is revealing over time; not that something can emerge from nothingness, but that in capitalism the starting point is always zero, preventing things to move forward to avoid the obsolescence of capitalism.