Art in the pandemic: Do it (home) exhibition at Samek

Maddie Margioni, Staff Writer

According to Samek Art Museum Director Richard Rinehart, the museum usually “presents a mix of exhibitions; some that are traveling and some that are organized in-house by the Samek in which we come up with the idea and borrow art directly from individual artists, collectors and galleries.” However, this fall, a new type of exhibition has been presented to the community.

On Aug. 19, the do it (home) exhibition was brought to the Samek Art Museum. This exhibit was originally organized by Independent Curators International (ICI) as a traveling exhibition in 1995.

Do it takes written instructions from local artists and encourages community members to enact and interpret them at home. Each week, two of the instructions will be performed by community members. Their results will be featured on the wall of the gallery alongside the instructions. As the exhibit evolves over the semester,  it will “provide a snapshot of our community at this historic moment,” Rinehart said.

Do it’s founder, Hans Ulrich Obrist, has commented on the evolution of the exhibit during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Do it has always taken place in public and in private — spheres of life that for many have coalesced in recent months.”

Rinehart noted that this particular exhibit was not the Samek’s original plan for the fall semester, but that COVID-19 had changed the Samek’s plans. Do it (home) was, as Rinehart said, “a last-minute change, but in the end, I believe a very good one.”

At Samek, this exhibit has taken on a virtual feel, which has allowed participation from many community members on many different projects. On Samek’s website, there are multiple sets of instructions from international artists available for interpretation by anyone in the community: simply by following the instructions and posting their creations to Instagram with the hashtag #doithome.

“At this unprecedented time in our history, both global and local, this show really brings people together because we can see an international art instruction that has been interpreted and made by one of our professors or another student,” Rinehart said about the exhibition.

Assistant Professor of English Chase Gregory described her experience interpreting a set of instructions on the exhibit as “restorative in ways I didn’t imagine it being.” Gregory was instructed to write down her fears on rice paper, burn and bury the ashes in dirt, and then plant flowers over it. Gregory said that working with her partner on the project “took on an unexpected gravitas that I wasn’t expecting at all; it felt weirdly important, and at the same time, it was silly.”

The do it (home) exhibition will be taking place virtually through Nov. 21. Students and community members can access the exhibit through the museum’s web page. Community members can share their results on Instagram using the hashtag #doithome.

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