do it is an exhibition unlike any other the Museum has hosted. Rather than an exhibition of objects created by artists, do it is a collection of conceptual instructions provided by renowned artists. The project originated in Paris in 1993 and has since traveled internationally through Independent Curators International, becoming the longest-running, most far-reaching show ever to take place. The written instructions are a point of departure, which are then interpreted anew every time they are enacted. Each venue chooses instructions to engage their town to realize the artworks. A highly participatory contemporary art exhibition, it will bring together the community and Montclair-area organizations in its planning and implementation. Coordinated for the Museum by Leah Fox, Director, Vance Wall Art Education Center and Gail Stavitsky, Chief Curator, this project coincides with the launch of the newly constructed Vance Wall Art Education Center, completed spring 2016.
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 incudes Robert Barry, Louise Bourgeois, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Sol LeWitt, and Yoko Ono.
The instructions by Joan Jonas, Amalia Pica, and Michelangelo Pistoletto were chronicled on video.
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. The Museum thanks all those involved, including Girl Scouts; COPE Center; SummerART students; Ellen Denuto; M.F. A. students from Montclair State University: Maryann Ficker, Brooke Garlick, and Colleen Smith; Elizabeth Seaton; MAM African American Cultural Committee; MAM COntemporaries; Titilayo Derricotte, Tiara Knox, and Roderick Jackson; Succeed2gether; Rachel Cohen; Janice Belove, Stephanie Castellano, Dorothy Cochran, Leah Fox, Kate Hutson, Peg Kenselaar, Barbara Minch, Gail Stavitsky; Kristine Lombardi; Deborah Guzman-Meyer; Montclair Public Library; and Angela Frasco.
DO IT YOURSELF
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.
Additional artist instructions are posted to MAM's social media each Monday. Submit your interpretations with the hashtag #MAMdoit or by email to MAMdoit@gmail.com.
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, including Australia, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Mexico, Costa Rica, Russia, and Uruguay. 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.
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.
The presentation of do it at MAM is supported, in part, by Ann and Mel Schaffer and Margo and Frank Walter.