On 20th January, I attended the Tate Britain's 'Dissent and Dialogue' event, it was absolutely fantastic. Along with some others on the fine art course, we were given the opportunity to explore the collections and analyse individual pieces with curator Martine Rouleau and artists Katriona Beales and Helen Rousseau. 
We explored the numerous different aspects of 'meaning' thoroughly through debate, observation and discussion. For example, we considered the effect a name can have on a piece. Whether it can add or detract from a work of art, can it raise or lower expectations, does it influence your perception of the work, and can it become a part of the piece itself? We did an interesting exercise in which the name and gallery description were given before being able to view the work, then we evaluated what impact this has when we were finally able to view the piece. For example, this was read to us,
'Line 18.82m, September 1959  1959

Ink on paper with cardboard container
object: 267 x 70 x 70 mm
sculpture

Purchased 1974'

Try and think about what kind of work you would expect to see after hearing this. 
 
 
 
Is that what you envisioned? Unless you had previous knowledge of the piece, I don't think it would be. I was thinking quite literally, I'd imagined an actual ink line, 18.82m long stretching across the gallery space, which just shows the heavy influence of the name. When confronted with this, I began to wonder, is the line really inside the canister? It had piqued my curiosity, all I wanted to do was open it to find out. But if I'd done that (apart from probably being arrested for removing this packaging from it's enclosed plinth), then the illusion would be destroyed. Part of the allure of the piece is that mystery. Is there something really in there? Is it a lie? Does it matter? I don't think the line actually exists, the piece to me seems quite conceptual, which makes me sceptical about it. It leads me to believe that it was all a joke and Piero Manzoni was sat there laughing to himself at the thought of this useless piece of packaging on display in a gallery, with crowds of people deep in thought as to what it means. If it had not been encased on a plinth, but had just been placed on the floor, one could easily mistake it for rubbish. It is only transformed into art through the gallery's methods of display, (like Marcel Broothaers' 'Department of Eagles'), so would it really be outlandish to think the canister is empty? But then what if it is a double bluff? What if there is a line inside and it is all as simple as that? The possibilities are endless. 
This also raises the question of institutional critique. How far should the gallery's given description be trusted? Does it inhibit your viewing, stop you from making up your own mind? Or is this description just put in place to justify the institution itself?
We later discussed Rachel Whiteread's 'Untitled (Black Bathtub) and Mike Nelson's 'Coral Reef' and, personally, I revelled in the opportunity to study, hypothesise and share opinions on different works in the Tate Collection. It was a unique opportunity for a critical dialogue in this internationally recognised institution.