The Public is Touching (The Iron Fist in the Rubber Glove)

If the white cube is a sterile space, then perhaps its occupants should be made to adhere to a certain standard of hygiene. In this performance, all visitors to the Royal College of Art galleries in London were required to wear nitrile gloves while in attendance at the Sorry You Missed Me exhibition, held from 9 to 20 March 2016.

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Nitrile gloves are worn to prevent contamination in many lines of work, including by the police and security when they undertake bag checks, pat-downs or in situations of potential violence. The Public is Touching produced the spectacle of a paranoid, overly germ-phobic art audience, protected against contamination or direct contact. The requirement to wear gloves as a condition of entering the exhibition space was communicated via signage outside of the gallery that mimicked the aesthetic of signage already present in the RCA buildings. Visitors’ compliance was overseen by invigilators and security guards.