02_do_it_Shaw Instruction do it by Jim Shaw                Photo: L-P Côté, Galerie de l'UQAM

do it Montréal

Curator: Hans Ulrich Obrist

January 13 to February 20 février, 2016
Opening and performances: Tuesday, January 12, 5:30 pm

Exhibition produced and circulated by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York

[More information]

After touring the world for the last 23 years, the exhibition do it, conceived by the renowned curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, is coming to Quebec where it will be presented at the Galerie de l'UQAM. As its title implies, do it involves the host institution, visitors and guest artists in realizing the works, which arrive only as sets of instructions. Featuring more than 80 Quebecois and international artists, do it Montréal rethinks the traditional codes of the exhibition in order to offer new experiences to visitors and to reflect on the meaning and function of museums.

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.


do it

In 1993, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and artists Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier imagined an exhibition that could constantly generate new versions of itself. To test the idea, they invited 12 artists to propose artworks based on written instructions that can be openly interpreted every time they are presented. The instructions were then translated into 9 different languages and circulated internationally between 1994 and 1996. Since then, more than 400 artists have taken part in the project in over 30 countries, giving new meaning to the concept of an exhibition in progress. Nowadays, the project circulates in the form of a book, do it: the compendium, an anthology comprising 250 instructions, published in 2012. For each incarnation, the host institution is responsible for making a selection from this anthology and coordinating the interpretations. That flexibility provides not only variations among versions of the same work, but also the emergence of a new set, a new configuration whose uniqueness is directly related to the specific context where do it is (re)deployed.

Video presenting the do it concept: https://vimeo.com/93191691

do it Montréal

The Montreal edition of do it includes 60 instructions from the book do it: the compendium, in addition to 10 exclusive instructions developed by Quebecois artists, choreographers, authors or playwrights. 14 artists and collectives were also invited to interpret the instructions of other artists. The project is presented in three spaces: in the Galerie de l’UQAM, on campus and off campus (in a  “take-out” version). Several mediation activities are planned for the Galerie and on the campus, calling on visitors to get involved in interpreting the works. The public will be encouraged to share their contributions via social media with the hashtag #doitmtl .The evening of the opening and the events of January 27 and February 3, 2016 will be an opportunity to watch artists in action interpreting some of the instructions: Danièle Desnoyers, Adam Kinner, Christian Lapointe, Rodolphe-Yves Lapointe, Thierry Marceau, Alexis O'Hara, Pour ici ou pour s’emporter, Françoise Sullivan and Wants & Needs Dance.

For this version of do it, the Galerie de l'UQAM has given curator Florence-Agathe Dubé-Moreau the task of selecting the works  (instructions) and inviting artists to rethink the functions and codes of the exhibition in order to investigate their role in the production of knowledge in the arts. She wants to prompt reflection on curation, new approaches to museology and alternative art discourse and spaces. do it Montréal questions museum institutions by re-examining their political and social engagement as well as their embedding in the broader contemporary art system.

Browse the exhibition photo gallery
More information on the performance program


60 instructions from the book do it: the compendium

Etel Adnan, Kathryn Andrews, Cory Arcangel, Robert Barry, Jérôme Bel, Bernadette Corporation, Louise Bourgeois, Cao Fei, Boris Charmatz, Chu Yun, Claire Fontaine, Critical Art Ensemble, Minerva Cuevas, Jimmie Durham, Cerith Wyn Evans, William Forsythe, Simone Forti, Theaster Gates, Jef Geys, Gilbert & George, Édouard Glissant, Leon Golub, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Joseph Grigely, Nicholas Hlobo, Carsten Höller, Pierre Huygue, Joan Jonas, Ilya Kabakov, Ragnar Kjartansson, Jiří Kolář, Július Koller, Suzanne Lacy, Bertrand Lavier, Sol LeWitt, Erik van Lieshout, Lucy R. Lippard, Jonas Mekas, Jean-Luc Nancy, Bruce Nauman, Albert Oehlen, Pak Sheung-Chuen, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Amalia Pica, Cesare Pietroiusti, Adrian Piper, Raqs Media Collective, Eszter Salamon, Peter Saville, Jim Shaw, Shimabuku, Michael Smith, Nancy Spero, Mario García Torres, Rosemarie Trockel, Hannah Weinberger, Lawrence Weiner, Erwin Wurm.

10 exclusive instructions

Anonyme, Christophe Barbeau, Martine Delvaux, Chloé Desjardins, Paul-André Fortier, Gallery Girls, Michelle Lacombe, Dana Michel, David Tomas, Larry Tremblay.

14 interpretations

Louis-Philippe Côté, Danièle Desnoyers, Marc-Antoine K. Phaneuf, Adam Kinner, Vincent Lafrance, Christian Lapointe, Rodolphe-Yves Lapointe, Mathieu Lévesque, Thierry Marceau, Alexis O’Hara, Pour ici ou pour s’emporter, projets hybris, Françoise Sullivan, Wants & Needs Dance.

The curator

Hans Ulrich Obrist, a curator of Swiss origin, is Co-Director, Exhibitions and Programmes, and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery in London. He previously served as Curator of Contemporary Art at the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris, in addition to overseeing various international events (Berlin Biennale, 1998; Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon, 2007, etc.). With more than two hundred exhibitions to his credit, Obrist is recognized for his innovative curatorial practice, which also comprises writing and publishing. He is considered one of the most colourful, influential and powerful figures in the contemporary art world.


Guided tours of the exhibition:

Available at any time. Reservations required with Audrey Genois, 514 987-3000, ext. 1424, or genois.audrey@uqam.ca

Critical essays (in french):

Maude Johnson was xmandated by the Galerie de l'UQAM to write critical essays that were published each week during the exhibition. Click on the following links to access them.

- « Quand l'exposition performe la ville »
- « Dialectique de l'interprération »
- « L'agentivité du spectateur »
- « L'exposition en tant que témoignage politique de l'institution »


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.

do it Montréal is produced by the Galerie de l'UQAM, with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. It has been realised by the curator Florence-Agathe Dubé-Moreau, whose participation in the project is part of the initiative Premier commissariat of the Galerie de l’UQAM.

Florence-Agathe Dube-Moreau is a Masters in Art History candidate at UQAM. Her research, supervised by Marie Fraser and supported by the SSHRC, explores the effects of reconstituting contemporary art exhibitions. In 2013, she won the Young Critics writing competition sponsored by the journal esse arts + opinions. Her writing has been published in artichoke and esse, as well as in the monographs Trevor Gould. Watercolours 1996-2013 (2014) and BGL. Canadassimo (2015). The collective work Questionner l’avenir. Réflexions sur la réactualisation de la Biennale de Montréal (2015), which she initiated and co-organized, was published by les Éditions d'art le Sabord.



The educational booklet

An educational booklet is offered to the public free of charge as a a guide to the exhibition.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Canada Council for the Arts Canada Council for the Arts


Université du Québec à Montréal
1400, Rue Berri, Pavillon Judith-Jasmin, Local J-R 120
Montréal, Québec
Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
Free admission