The Montclair Art Museum presents its version of a participatory contemporary art exhibition, do it, through the courtesy of ICI (Independent Curators International). Since its inception in Paris in 1993, this exhibition has been featured in more than 50 locations worldwide and has become the longest running, most far reaching show ever to take place.
Curated by Hans-Ulrich Obrist, do it began as a conversation between Obrist and the artists Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier. Obrist was concerned with how exhibition formats could be rendered more flexible and open-ended. This discussion led to the question of whether a show could take “scores,” or written instructions by artists, as a point of departure, each of which could be interpreted anew every time they were enacted. Over 20 years later after the initial conversation took place, do it has been featured all over the world (...). The driving force behind the exhibition is aptly summarized in the words of the revolutionary modern artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) , who stated that “art is a game between all people of all periods.” He is only one of several predecessors to have shaped this exhibition, which also draws from Conceptual and Minimalist art of the 1960s and 1970s as well as Fluxus practices.
Each do it exhibition is uniquely site-specific because it engages the local community in a dialogue that responds to and adds a new set of instructions. To mark the 20th anniversary of this landmark project, Obrist collaborated with ICI to create a new version of the exhibition presenting the largest selection of instructional works to date. Organized around the instructions submitted by artists, the Montclair Art Museum has selected 27 instructional works from a list of 250, all of which are featured in the book do it the compendium (2013). The list of artists incude Robert Barry, Louise Bourgeois, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Sol LeWitt, and Yoko Ono.
Members of the community and Montclair area organizations will be engaged in the planning and implementation of many of these projects before the opening of the exhibition. Several projects will be ongoing and will engage visitors to the museum on a regular basis, especially those of Yuri Aran, Alison Knowles, Yoko Ono, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and RAQ Media Collective. For example, visitors will be invited to draw on a special doodle wall in the museum’s Learning Lab, as per Aran’s instructions. Internationally renowned artist Yoko Ono’s WISH PEACE (1996) invites visitors to write down their wishes on pieces of paper that they will attach to the branches of a Wish Tree.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, Do It: The Compendium tells how Hans Ulrich Obrist invited 13 artists to send instructions, which were then translated into nine different languages and circulated internationally as a book. Within two years, Do It exhibitions were being created all over the world by realizing the artists’ instructions. With every version of the exhibition new instructions were added, so that today more than 300 artists have contributed to the project. It includes an archive of artists’ instructions, essays contextualizing Do It, documentation from the history of the exhibition and instructions by 200 artists from all over the world