Ten Artists Who Have “done it” with Hans Ulrich Obrist

Artsy Editorial
Jul 3, 2013 5:22PM

“do it” is an unprecedented manual of instructions for artists, by artists, that have been passed down and realized for almost two decades. Conceived of in Paris in 1993 by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and artists Christian Boltanksi and Bertrand Lavier, the project prompts artists to come up with specific, sometimes bizarre guidelines for art-making—ten of which we have listed so you can attempt for yourself:

1. Marina Abramovic, Spirit Cooking

Take Uncut 13 Leaves Of Green Cabbage
With 13,000 Grammes Of Jealousy
Steam For Long Time In Deep Iron Pot
Till All Water Evaporates
Eat It Just Before Attack

2. Steve Kaltenbach, Untitled

Start a rumor.

3. Mike Kelley Untitled (Voices): Digital Version

Mini-disk recorder, exterior microphone with on/off switch.
Record in a place with a colorful or weird history. Start recording; announce location of recording site and reason for its choice. Turn off microphone, raise recording volume to maximum setting. Record for at least ¸ hour.

4. Michelangelo Pistoletto, Sculpture for Strolling

After reading the daily newspaper, immerse it in water then form a small sphere by compressing the wet newspaper with one's hands. Enlarge the sphere by adding new daily newspapers soaked in water. Continue this procedure until the sphere is a meter in diameter. When well dried out, roll the newspaper sphere outside in the streets and the squares as a “sculpture for strolling.”

5. Paul McCarthy, Untitled

Spend the summer digging a continuous narrow trench.

6. Gilbert & George, Ten Commandments for Gilbert and George

Thou shalt fight conformism
Thou shalt be the messenger of freedoms
Thou shalt make use of sex
Thou shalt reinvent life
Thou shalt create artificial art
Thou shalt have a sense of purpose
Thou shalt not know exactly what thou dost, but thou shalt do it
Thou shalt give thy love
Thou shalt grab the soul
Thou shalt give something back

7. Simryn Gill, Somewhere Between

Approach a stranger who you perceive to be somehow different to yourself. The difference between yourself and this person could be of any nature, for instance - age, class, lifestyle, politics, skin color, religion etc etc. However, the category or categories of difference that you chose, should be one(s) that deeply inform your own life. Ask someone to take a photograph of yourself with this person. Send in the photo stating the date and the place.

8. Louise Bourgeois, Untitled

When you are walking, stop and smile at a stranger.

9. John Baldessari, How To Kill A Bug

2 wooden planks, 1"  x 4" x 18," labeled A and B.

1. Place bug on end of wooden plank A.
2. Strike area where bug is located on plank A with plank B.
3. Remove remains of bug from both planks and repeat with successive bugs as necessary.

10. Yoko Ono, Wish Piece

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.


Learn about the “do it” exhibition on Artsy.

Artsy Editorial