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"General Idea's Multiples: Touching the World with the Hand of the Spirit"
2003-11-16 until 2001-01-04
McMaster Museum of Art
Hamilton, ON, CA Canada

Canada's best-known collaborative team of artists - General Idea's Jorge Zontal, AA Bronson, and Felix Partz - came to international attention for their incisive interventions in the contemporary media environment. Pioneers of conceptual and media-based practices in Canada, their work included performance, video, installation, photography, as well as the manufacture of numerous mass-produced items such as wallpaper, posters, and magazines.

Seminal in the history of art in Canada and internationally, their collaboration became a model for artist-initiated activities and successive generations of younger artists. To this day their work remains acutely relevant, not only as a model for collaboration, but also for the articulations of queer identity and the imaginative formation of alternative communities. General Idea perfected the principle of inhabitation of the forms of popular and media culture (such as boutiques, "Life" magazine, beauty pageants, press conferences etc.), and of bending these to their own needs.

An integral, important part of General Idea's practice has been the design and fabrication of mass-produced articles, multiples and editions. Including postcards, prints, posters, as well as wallpaper, balloons, crests and pins, General Idea editions are not just a commercial product, that is, secondary or even subordinated manifestations of more important original works. Instead, they form an important and coherent grouping of the complete work and the group's broader artistic concepts, such as the notion of the image as virus, and the devaluation of originality, copy-right and artistic genius. The editions provide a glimpse of the development of artist-initiated networks in Canada, and key to General Idea's ironic and critical analysis of the art business, the gallery as a commercial enterprise, and of the role of the media.

Organized by the Blackwood Gallery (University of Toronto at Mississauga), General Idea Editions 1967-1995 presents the first definitive exhibition and complete retrospective of General Idea's edition-based works. The exhibition follows nearly a decade after two members of General Idea -- Jorge Zontal and Felix Partz -- died of AIDS-related causes in 1994. Spanning nearly thirty years, the exhibition presents over 200 items, including prints, postcards, posters, photo-based projects, multiples, serial publications, flags, and crests, beginning with works produced before the formation of the group as such, through to their historically unprecedented artistic collaboration to the final object XXX Voto (for the Spirit of Miss General Idea), 1995, published posthumously by AA Bronson, the last surviving member of the group.

The exhibition and publication received the generous financial assistance of the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (New York). The circulation of the exhibition is made possible through the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, Museums Assistance Program.


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