Unlike most traveling exhibitions, the pieces on display as part of do it did not arrive at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) in large wooden shipping crates to be unpacked and installed. Instead, the do-it-yourself project, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and organized by Independent Curators International (ICI), comes with a set of instructions: do it: the compendium.
The compendium contains a “how to” for multiple works of art by artists selected by Obrist and ICI. The growing collection aims to involve the community and generate a site-specific exhibit unique to Utah. For example, an untitled work conceptualized by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, comes with these instructions: Get 180 pounds of local wrapped candy and drop in a corner. This being Salt Lake City, the artwork has been created from 180 pounds of salt-water taffy from Taffy Town, and visitors are encouraged to take a piece to snack on.
In addition to Taffy Town, other local organizations have been brought in to help with creating an exhibit that is informed by the compendium, but completely unique to Utah – a state also internationally known for its strong dance community.
Ririe Woodbury dancer Tara McArthur was invited to provide her interpretation of instructions from artist Joan Jonas: dance with a large piece of chalk, mark up the nearest surface, pay attention to the movement of your feet, music optional. McArthur improvised a performance in front of a black wall, chalk in hand and danced for over an hour. The results McArthur’s work and a recording of her performance can be seen as part of the exhibit.
Try a piece of local taffy, see the lines of chalk that are echoes from a dance, tie a wish to the recreation of “Wish Pice” by Yoko Ono, and more. “We’re still trying to educate the local community on what contemporary art can be. This is an opportunity to demystify contemporary art through community participation,” UMOCA Associate Curator Rebecca Maksym says.
Dale Thompson has a B.A. in Liberal Arts from The Evergreen State College and an Masters degree in communications from Westminster College. Her writing career includes work for a local theatre, journalism in Park City, and freelance contributions for various nonprofit organizations.