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Do It & Do It (Archive)

Mar 3–May 8, 2016

Image Gallery

Do It & Do It (Archive)

Mar 3–May 8, 2016

do it & do it (archive)

March 3 – May 8, 2016
Main Gallery

Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist & Organized by Independent Curators International.

What would happen if an exhibition never stopped? Since it began in 1993, with this question being asked by Hans Ulrich Obrist and artists Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier, do it has become the longest-running and most far-reaching exhibition to ever to have happened – constantly evolving and generating ever more relevant new versions of itself. Since ICI’s launch last year to mark the exhibition’s 20th anniversary, do it has toured to venues from New York to Manchester, Budapest to Salt Lake City, and Kosovo to Moscow.

do it began in Paris in 1993 as a conversation between Obrist, Boltanski, and Lavier who were curious to see what would happen if they started an exhibition that would never need to stop. To test the idea, Obrist invited 12 artists to propose artworks based on written “scores” or instructions that can be openly interpreted every time they were presented. The instructions were then translated into 9 different languages and circulated internationally as a book. In the 20 years since Obrist, Boltanski and Lavier mused over the potential of “scores,” or written instructions by artists, do it created exhibition formats that could be more flexible and open-ended. Each time it was presented, do it was re-interpreted. Many new versions of the exhibition were formed, 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.

The origin and transformation of do it reflects the necessity of exploring collaboration and shared authorship in a constantly evolving art world. The project’s impetus is rooted in the extraordinary effects of globalization on curating and artistic practice in the 1990s, a time that witnessed an unprecedented expansion of the geographies of contemporary art. Twenty years later, do it has taken place in 60+ venues worldwide and includes nearly 400 artists from across the globe, giving new meaning to the concept of an exhibition in progress, while offering infinite creative possibilities for participating audiences everywhere.

Adrian Piper asks audiences to hum a tune in order to enter a room. Ben Kinmont wants us to “invite a stranger into [our] home for breakfast.” Alexandre Singh teaches us how to turn wine into soda. Yoko Ono encourages us to keep wishing. And Mircea Cantor demands that we “burn this book. ASAP,” but John Armleder says to do “None of the above.”

Find out more at:


On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of do it, Hans Ulrich Obrist collaborated with Independent Curators International (ICI) on do it: the compendium (ICI and D.A.P., May 2013).

The publication presents the history of this landmark project and gives new potential to its future. Along with a selection of instructions by 250 artists, 84 of which are newly published for the 20th anniversary, do it: the compendium includes essays contextualizing do it; an interview with Obrist; and documentation from past iterations, including exhibition images, texts, and interviews.


For our selection from the do it compendium, we have gathered instructions into a few grouping, some that will exist already completed in the gallery space and some for visitors to do. The Person You Are, The Person You Could Be centers on the theme of self-reflection and alterations. Some instructions are existential and some are more direct changes and interventions to the physical self. The Calculated Image grouping features instructions that or more precise in nature, resulting in an image or object that is very directed by the instructions with a more specified outcome. Performance Party is a selection of instructions visitors will experience as one-offs during the opening and various public programs. Lastly, visitors will be invited to execute a set of instructions at our Family Saturday, April 9, 2016.


Hans Ulrich Obrist (b. 1968, Zurich, Switzerland) is co-director of the Serpentine Galleries, London. Prior to this, he was the Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris. Since his first show “World Soup” (The Kitchen Show) in 1991 he has curated more than 250 shows.

Obrist’s publications include A Brief History of Curating, Project Japan: Metabolism Talks with Rem Koolhaas, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Curating But Were Afraid to Ask, do it: the compendium, Think Like Clouds, Ai Weiwei Speaks, Sharp Tongues – Loose Lips – Open Eyes – Ears to the Ground, along with new volumes of his Conversation Series. Since 2006, Obrist has initiated a series of “marathons,” including the Interview Marathon, Experiment Marathon, the Poetry Marathon, and most recently the 89Plus Marathon (co-curated with Simon Castets, Director and Curator, Swiss Institute).


do it (archive) was first presented as the archive room at the Manchester Art Gallery in July 2013, and designed by Project Projects. Curated by ICI and Obrist, in collaboration with Joseph Grigley, do it (archive) contains installation images, slides, related websites, video and audio files, ephemera, and a collection of location-specific do it books produced in several languages. do it (archive) highlights key moments and impacts in the exhibition’s history: find out about the first presentation at Klagenfurt, Austria; a controversy in Reykjavik, Iceland; the early presentation of do it in Bangkok, Thailand; the 1997 ICI tour across North America; the community involvement in San Jose, Costa Rica; Mike Kelley’s personal do it sound archive; and much more.


Independent Curators International (ICI) produces traveling exhibitions, events, publications, and training opportunities for diverse audiences around the world. Established in 1975 and headquartered in New York, ICI is a hub that provides access to the people and practices that are key to current developments in the field, inspiring fresh ways of seeing and contextualizing contemporary art.

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.


Etel Adnan, Sophia Al Maria, Uri Aran, Cory Arcangel, Robert Ashley, Nairy Baghramian, Jérôme Bel, Paul Chan, Amy E. Cohen and Francisco J. Varela, Elmgreen & Dragset, Tracey Emin, Simone Forti, Dan Graham, Marie-Ange Guilleminot, Anna Halprin, Shere Hite, Joan Jonas, Stephen Kaltenbach, Hassan Khan, Alison Knowles, Koo Jeong-A, Adriana Lara, Sol LeWitt, Annette Messager, Rivane Neuenschwander, Adrian Piper, David Reed, David Robbins, Adrián Villar Rojas, Hassan Sharif, Shimabuku, Michael Smith, Hannah Weinberger

do it was 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 of ICI’s International Forum and Board of Trustees.

Exhibition support provided by The Lifshutz Family, City of San Antonio Department for Culture and Creative Development, a grant from the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation, the Mary Hobbs Griffith Foundation, Texas Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and Silver Eagle Distributors.

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