It seems unlikely that art gallery visitors would press themselves against gallery walls and attach handwritten wishes to a tree. Yet these are the exact activities that attendees took part in at Verge Center for the Arts opening night reception of do it, a traveling exhibition of artist instructions conceived and compiled by the internationally known curator, Hans Ulrich Obrist. The exhibit consists of 18 instructions for artworks from Ulrich’s compendium of 250 instructions by artists such as Yoko Ono, Bruce Nauman, and Louise Bourgeois.
The Verge staff completed some of the instructions themselves such as Sol LeWitt’s untitled wall drawing (2001) and Robert Ashley’s Four Scenes: Kittyhawk (An Antigravity Piece) (2012). The latter involved taping a brave intern to the wall during the reception. However, most of the instructions were left up to the interpretation of attendees. Visitors are encouraged to follow the instructions and in so doing, bring the artworks alive.
For Yoko Ono’s Wish Piece (1996) visitors are instructed to “Make a wish. Write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch of a Wish Tree.” There’s also Jimmie Durham’s Do-It-Yourself Museum (1996) in which viewers are asked to write down all of the objects in a gallery that are “visible yet not intended to be looked at.”
Some of the stranger instructions include Erwin Wurm’s Untitled (1995) instruction for putting on a pullover: “Don’t stick arms or head through the normal openings. Squat down and pull the end of the pullover down over your knees and feet.” And Bruce Nauman’s Body Pressure (1974), “Press as much of the front surface of your body against the wall as possible. Press very hard and concentrate…This may become a very erotic exercise.”
Verge’s presentation of do it is a fun, engaging exhibit, which should not be missed!
Do it will be on view at Verge Center for the Arts from January 9 – March 20, 2016. Verge is located at 625 S Street, Sacramento, CA, 95811.
Words Justina Martino.
Photos Justina Martino and Mark Badovinac.