Esther Schipper

General Idea

25 Jun - 29 Jul 2006

Magi© Bullet and Early Works
25 June - 29 July 2007

Formed in 1969 by Jorge Zontal, Felix Partz and AA Bronson in Toronto, General Idea soon came to international attention with their conceptual approaches, interventions into the media environment, and appropriation of popular culture. In 1989 Esther Schipper opened her gallery in Cologne with a General Idea solo exhibition. Only a few years later, in 1994, the collective came to an end, due to the AIDS-related deaths of Partz and Zontal. Yet, the interest in their work grows continuously as it remains acutely relevant. General Idea has had a great historical influence on several of the artists represented by the gallery, and it is a great pleasure to present this exhibition.

In the main space ‘Magi© Bullet’, an exhibition originally presented at Stux Gallery in New York in 1992, is re-enacted. A bed of fluorescent lights lying on the floor (‘Magi© Carpet’) lightens the space, and silver helium-filled balloons in the shape of pills cover the ceiling. The pill became a crucial feature in the late work of General Idea and their Pla©ebo-series, and in this case they form a homage to Andy Warhol’s ‘Silver Clouds’ from 1966. They also occur in the portrait ‘Playing Doctor’ presenting the three members as concerned doctors - the last work in General Idea’s series of staged self-portraits.

In the second space a series of earlier works (1968 – 1975) are exhibited. Editions and multiples form an important part of General Idea’s oeuvre, however these works are almost all of them unique. Some of the works share affinities with Fluxus, like for example ‘Canvas Weaving’ (1970): a large piece of canvas has been cut into strips and then the pattern of the weave has been replicated - in magnified proportions. Furthermore two photo works from the ‘Light On’ series are on view. Each consists of two identical motives (of a landscape or a building, for example). By use of a mirror a small, distorted rectangle has been overexposed, allowing one to see nothing or every detail in this particular area.

The screen print ‘Artist’s Conception: Miss General Idea 1971’ was the beginning of General Idea’s work within the framework of a beauty pageant – representing the ultimate applauding of a cultural ideal. This would include the production of flyers, posters, a promotional network and not the least the fictive ‘1984 Miss General Idea Pavilion’ (1968 – 1978). It also marked a shift of focus towards a more spectacular and shockingly glamorous aesthetics – an approach that is exemplified in the ‘Magi© Bullet’ part of the exhibition.

Parallel to the exhibition, KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin presents „General Idea Editions 1967-1995“ (25.06.2006-20.08.2006).

Tags: AA Bronson, General Idea, Andy Warhol