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What would happen if an exhibition never stopped? This is precisely what artists Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier, and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, asked themselves in a Paris café in 1993. To test the idea, they invited twelve artists to propose artworks based on written instructions that can be openly interpreted every time they are presented. Since then, hundreds of artists have been invited to submit instructions, and versions of do it have been presented in over fifty venues worldwide, giving new meaning to the concept of the “exhibition in progress.”
For The Galleries’ presentation of do it, over seventy of these artist instructions will be interpreted by Philadelphia-based artists, performers and the public, resulting in installations, objects and performances that range from the sculptural to the performative, the poetic to the absurd.
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 twelve 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, hundreds of artists have been invited to submit instructions, and do it has taken place all over the world from Austria to Australia, from Thailand to Uruguay, from Canada to Iceland, giving new meaning to the concept of an exhibition in progress. Each do it exhibition is uniquely site-specific because it engages the local community in a dialogue that responds to a set of instructions. As a result, do it is less concerned with copies, images, or reproductions of artworks, than with human interpretation. No two iterations of the same instructions are ever identical.
Twenty years after its conception, do it has become the longest running exhibition ever.
do it is a traveling exhibition conceived and curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, and organized by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York. The exhibition and the accompanying publication were made possible, in part by grants from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, and with the generous support from Project Perpetual and ICI’s International Forum and Board of Trustees.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
"DO IT" Press Release