“do it is a kind of Catcher in the Rye for the curatorial world; it is a transformative mandatory read that connects a blur of dots into a cohesive and inviting image of both the art universe and the universe of ideas.”
Join Hans Ulrich Obrist, Independent Curators International and D.A.P. in celebrating the launch of do it: the compendium. Get your book at Frieze, New York (May 10–13) or NADA, New York (May 10–12); talk to Obrist about the project at Burberry (May 11); celebrate the book launch with a signing at MoMA PS1 (May 12, 2–3pm); and visit do it (outside) at Socrates Sculpture Park (May 12).
do it began in Paris in 1993 as a conversation between curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and artists Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier. They were curious to see what would happen if they started an exhibition that could constantly generate new versions of itself. To test the idea, they invited 12 artists to propose artworks based on written “scores” or instructions that can be openly interpreted every time they are presented. The instructions were then translated into nine different languages and circulated internationally as a book. Since then, do it has taken place all over the world, from France, Australia, and Thailand to Uruguay, Canada, Iceland and on, giving new meaning to the concept of an exhibition in progress. To date, more than 400 artists have been invited to participate in different versions, including do it (museum), do it (home), do it (TV), do it (seminar), and an online do it in collaboration with e-flux, among others.
To mark the 20th anniversary of do it, Obrist has collaborated with Independent Curators International (ICI) on the publication, do it: the compendium (ICI and D.A.P., 2013), which includes a selection of instructions by 250 artists, 84 of whom were newly invited to take part. With the largest collection of do itinstructions ever, do it: the compendium also includes essays contextualizing the project; a new interview with Obrist; and documentation from past iterations, including exhibition images, texts, and interviews.
The scope of do it is as far-ranging and experimental as the people who respond to the propositions. Adrian Piper asks audiences to hum a tune in order to enter a room. Ai Weiwei instructs how to make a spray device to block a surveillance camera. Ben Kinmont wants us to “invite a stranger into [our] home for breakfast.” Agnes Varda submits a “recipe” for chard gratin, while Kim Beom tells us how to fry cellular phones. Louise Bourgeois invites us to smile at a stranger. Yoko Ono encourages us to keep wishing. And John Baldessari suggests how to kill a bug, but John Armleder says to do “None of the above.”
These instructions and many more will inspire a new series of do it exhibitions beginning in May, taking place all over the world, including Socrates Sculpture Park (New York), with the very first do it (outside); and Manchester Art Gallery, as part of the Manchester International Festival with the most comprehensive do it exhibition to date, presenting rooms dedicated to the 20-year archive, do it (TV), and an homage to do it artists no longer living. Starting this spring, do it exhibitions will also take place at Gund Gallery at Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio), tranzit (Budapest, Hungary), MU artspace (Eindhoven, The Netherlands), and Samek Art Gallery at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania) before continuing to expand and grow in the coming years. For more information about the do it publication, exhibitions and related events, please visit ICI’s website: www.curatorsintl.org.
do it: the compendium, Independent Curators International (ICI), New York and D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc., May 2013, 448 pages. ISBN: 978-1-938922-01-5. Foreword and acknowledgements by Kate Fowle and Frances Wu Giarratano. Introduction by Hans Ulrich Obrist. Essays by Bruce Altshuler, Hu Fang, Virginia Perez-Ratton, and Elizabeth Presa.
do it: the compendium was made possible in part by grants from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, and with generous support from Project Perpetual and ICI’s International Forum and Board of Trustees. Special thanks to D.A.P., Burberry, W Magazine, and MoMA PS1 for their commitment to the launch of do it.