Hans Ulrich Obrist

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Wednesday 9 April 2014
Ron Brownson



Anyone with interested in contemporary art must have read books by uber-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. I asked our librarian Tom Irwin to research holdings of his books in New Zealand libraries. He found 137 entries. All can be inter-loaned via your local library.

Click here for New Zealand library holdings of Obrist's books.

One of my favourite Obrist books is do it – the compendium. This is a publication that affirms connections between life and art. It is humorous and engaging. For instance, Ben Kinmont suggests that we “invite a stranger into [our] home for breakfast.” 

"In 1993 I was at Café Select in Paris with Bertrand Lavier and Christian Boltanski discussing instruction works and how-to manuals and then we had this idea: what would happen if we started an exhibition that wouldn’t ever stop?" -  Hans Ulrich Obrist

Obrist’s book marks the 20th anniversary of his collaborative art project.  Artists prepare texts which become instructions for others to make artworks. Over 50 do it projects have happened in many locations.

Dwell has prepared a slide show about the publication.

Another profiles the book and quotes Louise Bourgeois.

hereelsewhere reiterates the life/art reality of the do it project

Brainpickings has a terrific response to Obrist’s book noting that Nairy Baghramian recommends “Following Gertrude Stein, every now and then sit with your back on nature.”

do it is a kind of Catcher in the Rye for the curatorial world; it is a transformative mandatory read that connects a blur of dots into a cohesive and inviting image of both the art universe and the universe of ideas.”  - Douglas Coupland