do it. Start a rumour (Stephen Kaltenbach, Instruction, 1969); move your finger up and down for one minute every morning (Jonas Mekas, Instruction, 1996); construct a device to block a surveillance camera (Ai Weiwei, CCTV Spray, 2012); keep wishing (Yoko Ono, Wish Piece, 1996).

From the absurd to the philosophical, the impossible to the seemingly meaningless, Michaelis Galleries is proud to present do it. Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, do it is an evolving exhibition created from a series of instructions written by artists as diverse as Marina Abramović (USA) and Nicholas Hlobo (South Africa). Obrist initiated the exhibition following a conversation, centered on the longevity of exhibitions, with artists Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier at a Paris café 20 years ago. Today, do it is the widest-reaching and longest running ‘exhibition in progress’ ever to occur, enacted all over the world.

The artist’s instructions are to be openly interpreted each time they are presented, purposefully providing much scope and potential for change. This emphasis on interpretation allows each do it iteration to be lively and experimental, as well as to acknowledge the particular time and space in which it is recreated. 

The origin and continual transformation of do it emphasizes collaboration and concepts of authorship in art making. For this particular exhibition, selected South African artists have been invited to interpret the instructions. Each artist has beenprovided with two do it instructions – one that is seen to be somewhat in line with their own practice, and one that is given to the artist at random. It is up to each artist the approach that they take.

As one of Obrist’s influences, Marcel Duchamp, states “art is a game between all people of all periods”. The performative aspects of the instructions encourage anyone to follow, inviting the audience to join the process of making, performing or completing an artist’s work. Audience participation is central to the concept, leading to a playful and interactive exhibition. With this is mind, do it joins Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Art’s (GIPCA) Live Art Festival.

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 Artists Include: Sophia Al Maria, Kathryn Andrews, Meg Cranston, Jimmie Durham, Olafur Eliasson, Tracey Emin, Claire Fontaine, Simryn Gill, Gilbert & George, Jonathan Horowitz, Hassan Khan, Alison Knowles, LucyLippard, Sarah Lucas, Mark Manders, Annette Messager, Yoko Ono, Felix Gonzalez Torres, Deimanatas Narkevicius, Peter Saville, Shimabuku. Artworks to be interpreted by: Sarah Biggs, Willem Boshoff, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Jody Brand, Justin Brett, Katherine Bull, Burning Museum Collective, Christine Cronjé, Herman de Klerk, Haroon Gunn Salie, Robert Hamblin, Matthew King, Nina Liebenberg, Nomusa Makhubu, Mitchell Messina, Rosie Mudge, Kyla Philander, Rosenclaire, Jonah Sack, Rael Salley, Bogosi Sekhukhuni, Penny Siopis, Jo Voysey, Victoria Wigzell, Ed Young.

The exhibition is made possible through a grant in aid from the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) to Michaelis Galleries.

Opening: 4 September at 18:00
Exhibition Dates: 2 – 13 September 2014
do it and Live Art Festival – Walkabout and Performances: Thursday 4th September from 19:00 – 19:30
do it and Live Art Festival – Walkabout and Performances: Friday 5th September from 19:00 – 19:30

Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Friday 10:00 – 16:00, Saturday 10:00 – 13:00, or by Appointment.

For further information, contact Josephine Higgins On 021 480 7170 or

Start: 2 Sep ’14

End: 13 Sep ’14

Cost: Free


Organizer: Michaelis Galleries

Phone: +27214807170


Venue: Michaelis Galleries

Phone: 27214807170

Address: Google Map UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa