project image
Nikolai Hartmann

first performed on August 1, 2012
on a mountain slope outside Gampen Gallery, Gampen Pass, Italy
performed once in 2012


Antwerp, Belgium


I dug a hole in a mountain slope over a period of four working days for a durational performance. Each working day began at 10:00 and ended around 18:00. The performance started on Wednesday, August 1 and finished on Saturday, August 4. On Sunday, the hole was displayed without me working in it. I had never dug a hole in the soil before. It may have been the first time in my life I held an actual shovel in my hands. Never before have I performed real physically demanding labor, either for the purpose of farming, heavy-duty cleaning or (de)constructing things. “DIG” meant to playfully subvert the antiquated but standardized duration of a working day; 9 to 5, or, in this case, 10 to 6.

The action of digging gave the impression to an outside spectator that I was in the process of performing labor or engaging in work; however, this could not have been further from the truth. Contrary to what some bystanders were hoping for, I did not get paid to dig that hole for four days. I did, however, get reimbursed for my travel to get to the Sinstruct Festival. The expenses of my stay were covered and I did not have to pay for any of my food or drinks. My goal has been to prevent this project from being interpreted as a possible work experience, although the piece was certainly quite labor-intensive and it may have surely contained some characteristics of an ordinary work process. I suggest that one consider “DIG” as an action that has taken place in nature.



1. to break up, turn over, or remove earth, sand, etc. as with a shovel

2. to remove or excavate (a hole, tunnel, etc.) by removing material

3. (slang) to understand: Can you dig what I’m saying?

4. (slang) to like, love, or enjoy: She digs that kind of music.

5. To dig into: (informal) to attack, or work vigorously or energetically

6. To dig yourself a hole: (informal) to get yourself into a difficult situation