Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist
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 9 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.
do it “rules of the game” (made knowing there may sometimes be exceptions)
- Each venue must select and create at least twenty of the 250 potential actions/artworks. The process of selection ensures that not only will the individual artworks diverge as a result of interpretation, but that a new group constellation will emerge each time the exhibition is presented.
- The instructions are to be realized by museum personnel or by the community at large. Neither the curator nor the artists are to be directly involved in the realization of the exhibition. There will be no artist-created “original.”
- The participating artists’ do-it-yourself descriptions are recreated each time. There will be no traditional “signature” of the artist so that do it artworks cannot accrue a static “character.”
- At the end of each do it exhibition the presenting institution is obliged to destroy the artworks and the instructions from which they were created, thus removing the possibility that do it artworks can become standing exhibition pieces or fetishes.
- The discrete components from which the artworks were made are to be returned to their original context, making do it almost completely reversible. The mundane is transformed into the uncommon and is then converted back into the everyday. do it appears in order to disappear.
- Each interpreted instruction must be fully documented.