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Global "do it" exhibit – where visitors help create the art – coming to Austin Peay

The exhibit opens Monday, Sept. 30, at The New Gallery, located in the Art + Design building on the campus of Austin Peay State University, and runs through Dec. 6.
The exhibit opens Monday, Sept. 30, at The New Gallery, located in the Art + Design building on the campus.

(Posted Sept. 19, 2019)

What would happen if an art exhibition never stopped? The constantly evolving do it answers that question, generating new versions of itself every time it has been presented in the last 26 years, all over the world.

The exhibit’s next evolution will happen Sept. 30-Dec. 6 at Austin Peay State University’s The New Gallery.

Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, do it began as a conversation about how exhibition formats could be more flexible and open-ended. The outcome is a compendium of 400 written instructions by artists, interpreted anew every time they are enacted.

The conceptual art endeavor will comprise artwork by individuals and groups from the community, along with opportunities for visitors to create art in real time. Each do it installation is unique to each venue. 


The New Gallery has chosen 22 sets of instructions by artists including Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Adrian Piper, Yoko Ono, Alison Knowles, Sol LeWitt, David Lynch and Joan Jonas.

The works range from whimsical to abstract, but all are meant to provoke thought and engagement. Students will create some of these works, while some will be created via the interaction of the public.

Among these is Yoko Ono’s Wish Peace, where Ono asks you: “Make a wish. Write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch of a Wish Tree. Ask your friends to do the same. Keep wishing. Until the branches are covered with wishes.”

A live tree will stand adjacent to the gallery outside the Art+Design building so visitors can wish any time of the day.

Jonas asks visitors: “Dance with a large piece of chalk. Mark up the nearest surface and pay attention to the movement of your feet. Music optional.”


The exhibit opens Monday, Sept. 30, at The New Gallery, located in the Art + Design building on the campus of Austin Peay State University, and runs through Dec. 6.
The exhibit runs through Dec. 6.

“I’m excited to bring this exhibition to Austin Peay, and we’re going to kick off this exhibition with a huge party,” Michael Dickins, director of The New Gallery, said. “Throw a Party is a piece by Amalia Pica with the instructions to have ‘a party of any kind. A party of any size. Make sure you provide your guests with: fine entertainment, drinks, good music, paper confetti. When the party is over, sweep all of the confetti to one side of the space, evenly distributing confetti along the entire length of the wall where it meets the floor.’

“So this is what we’re going to do – throw a huge party on Thursday, Oct. 3, from 5-8 p.m. in The New Gallery. Clarksville’s DJ/VJ duo Black and Jones will provide music and visuals, and there will be food, drinks, dancing and copious amounts of confetti,” Dickins added.

This exhibition will span a 10-week period with “instructionals” executed on a rotating basis. The New Gallery will transform weekly as new pieces are introduced, so we highly encourage visitors to return frequently to experience this unique gallery exhibition.

The New Gallery receives support from the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts and the Department of Art + Design.


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 happened 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 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 is organized by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York. do it and the accompanying publication, do it: the compendium, 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.

Obrist 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.

For more about the history of do it, visit http://curatorsintl.org/special-projects/do-it.


The exhibit opens Monday, Sept. 30, at The New Gallery, located in the Art + Design building on the campus of Austin Peay State University, and runs through Dec. 6. 

For a weekly schedule of artworks, visit The New Gallery’s page at www.apsu.edu/art-design. All events are free and open to the public. 

Hours for The New Gallery are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, closed on weekends and holidays, following the University’s academic calendar.

For more information on this exhibition, contact Dickins at dickinsm@apsu.edu.

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