General Idea, the Canadian artists’ group, have been key players in the development of new conceptual art forms over the past thirty years.
This was their first solo show in London since 1978. The three artists – AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal – worked together to produce powerful, provocative and playful pieces about the intersection of artistic and cultural life. They achieved international recognition and acclaim early on, and have been highly influential to many younger artists. Their collaboration came to an end in 1994 when both Partz and Zontal died of AIDS-related causes.
The work of General Idea takes many different forms – actions, performances, video, painting, sculpture, installation, writing, mail art, multiples, artists’ books and public art – to talk about art and its impact on culture. General Idea played with the myths surrounding the notion of the artist as cultural icon and inspirational cultural device. Playing with that space between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture, they found a way to transgress the rules and subvert officialdom.
During their last seven years together, they turned their attention entirely to the subject of AIDS, producing literally hundreds of exhibitions, temporary public artworks and other projects in every conceivable medium. This exhibition is structured around three important works from this period.
A reading room of archival material, videos, text and multiples provided a broader picture of General Idea’s work from the last three decades.