What would happen if an art exhibition never stopped? The constantly evolving do it answers that question, generating new versions of itself every time it has been presented in the last 25 years, all over the world.
Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, do it began in 1993 in Paris as a conversation about how exhibition formats could be more flexible and open-ended. The outcome is a compendium of 400 written instructions by artists, interpreted anew every time they are enacted. The conceptual art endeavor will comprise artwork by individuals and groups from the community, along with opportunities for visitors to create art in real time. Each do it installation is unique to each venue.
We have has chosen 30 sets of instructions, by artists including Yoko Ono, Ed Ruscha, Lucy R. Lippard, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Alison Knowles, and Adrian Piper. They range from the whimsical to the abstract, but all are meant to provoke thought and engagement.
Among these are Yoko Ono’s suggestion that people Make a wish. Write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch of a Wish Tree. Ask your friends to do the same. Keep wishing. Until the branches are covered with wishes. A live tree in the KIA galleries to hold people s wishes is part of the exhibition.
David Lamelas suggests, Clear your mind of all thoughts and say MOON, making a perfect circle with your lips, and hold. A mirror on the gallery wall helps visitors make that perfect facial expression.
Erwin Wurm says, Put on a pullover–but don’t stick arms or head through the normal openings–squat down and pull the end of the pullover down over your knees and feet. In this position, endure for 20 seconds.
Other instructions have been shared with area artists and arts organizations to fulfill. As an example, Kalamazoo’s professional dance company Wellspring/Cori Terry and Dancers will create an original movement piece in response to guidance from artist Lucy R. Lippard which reads, Do something that is: visually striking, socially radical, conceptually and contextually sensitive, sustainable, in the public domain (outside of art venues), and hurts no living thing – something that will change the world. Good luck! The videotaped dance plays on a loop in the exhibition.
Nayda Collazo-Llorens, Emily Berezowski, Karen Bondarchuk, and Audrey Mills are among the area artists responding to the do it prompts with original pieces, as are participants from Kalamazoo Public Schools and Education for the Arts, students from Western Michigan University’s Foundation Art Program, and Kalamazoo arts organizations like the Black Arts and Cultural Center, Jazz & Creative Institute, and the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center (KBAC).
The KBAC will be responding to instructions from RAQS Media Collective: Imagine and invent five titles of books that you would like all children to read and enjoy. Remember, these books don’t exist. No one has written them, yet. By making up names for them, you are helping them appear in the world. Why should children alone enjoy the pleasures of make believe books? Now make up five book titles for friends who are grownups.
This open exhibition model has become the longest-running and far-reaching exhibition to ever take place, giving new meaning to the concept of the “exhibition in progress,” and offering infinite creative possibilities for participating audiences everywhere.
Artists from across the globe have contributed to the exhibition, including Marina Abramovic, John Baldessari, Louise Bourgeois, Theaster Gates, Damien Hirst, Shere Hite, Nam June Paik, and Ai Weiwei, and the exhibition has been staged in locations worldwide, including Australia, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Mexico, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Uruguay.
Exhibition curator Hans Ulrich Obrist (b. 1968, Zurich, Switzerland) is co-director of the Serpentine Galleries, London. Prior to this, he was the Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris. Since his first show World Soup (The Kitchen Show) in 1991 he has curated more than 250 shows.