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Following directions

Do It puts artists to the test in collaborative effort

You might think that Do It, the upcoming exhibition at the Atlanta College of Art Gallery, is some kind of event sponsored by Nike. Au contraire.
Do It creator Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, came up with the concept of inviting 50 internationally renowned artists to write instructions for the creation of 50 artworks, 20 to be created at home "do it (home)" and 30 to be created by other artists for gallery exhibition "do it (museum)." The idea has direct connections with Sol LeWitt's verbal proposals for art in the 1960s and '70s.
The project has been launched at various galleries in Europe and the United States since the early 1990s and comes to the Atlanta College of Art Gallery Oct. 12.Rebecca Dimling Cochran, interim curator at the Atlanta College of Art Gallery, says that to mount the show, the gallery had to follow its own set of instructions: At least 15 of the 30 project proposals had to be created; the originating artists' instructions had to be followed precisely; and all the works must be destroyed after the exhibition.
The original Do It artists included Christian Boltanski, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ilya Kabakov, Yoko Ono and Michelangelo Pistoletto. Among the local artists creating those works are Karen Beall, fascia, Kojo Griffin, Gretchen Hupfel, Kay Hwang, Amy Landesberg, Ruth Laxson, Pam Longobardi, Chika Okeke, Joe Peragine, Alan Peterson, Kathryn Refi, Scott Silvey, Kevin Sipp, Lisa Tuttle and Jess Marie Walker.
When the show opens, don't be surprised if you notice a certain dampness about the space that holds Joe Peragine's "Sculpture for Strolling." Michelangelo Pistoletto's directions were to make a 1-meter ball from wet newspapers. "Ideally, it would take a year or more to make, but I had a month-and-a-half. Mine never dried. I think he's a fraud," laughs Peragine. "His ball couldn't have been solid newspaper." In slides of Pistoletto's project, the ball is a perfect orb. The local artist found out that when you roll a heavy wet ball around, it flattens out on one side.
Painter Alison Knowles dreamed up "Homage to Each Red Thing," an idea that drew the interest of more than one participating artist. Cochran selected Athens sculptor Kay Hwang to realize this one. She was to divide the floor space into equal squares and put "each red thing" into a square. Hwang used more than 100 9-inch cake pans to make a grid. Each pan is filled with water on which floats waxed paper boats loaded with a fine red powder. "The Russian submarine tragedy happened when I was developing the work," recalls Hwang. "It had an incredible impact on me. I felt the hope and desperation of those families. For me, the piece represents reminiscence and melancholy."
Yoko Ono's "Wish" piece became Karen Beall's oeuvre. "Yoko's instructions ask me and my friends to write a wish down on a piece of paper and tie it to the wish tree. The type of tree is not known or discussed, so I used that opportunity to make my own," Beall says. On Oct. 5 at 11:30 a.m., the Atlanta sculptor invites gallery visitors to write wishes on red paper circles and hang them on her simulated branches.
Atlantan Kojo Griffin says Ilya Kabakov's directions for "The White Cube" were very plain: Make an 8-by-8-foot white cube with ladders. Place a small piece of paper with a message inside and fold it so the viewer can't read it. Griffin followed the basic directions, adding a cover on the cube to make it more challenging. "It's interesting to carry out someone else's idea," he says. "In a sense, it's somewhat humbling."
Do It runs from Oct. 12-Nov. 26 at the Atlanta College of Art Gallery, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-5050. Bruce Altshuler, author of the Do It catalogue essay and the book The Avant-Garde in Exhibition: New Art in the 20th Century, will lecture Nev. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Georgia State University Senate Salon, corner of Gilmer and Courtland streets. 404-651-2257.



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