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Do It 2013: MIF 2013 Reviews

Jo Milligan did it at Manchester Art Gallery

Written by . Published on July 17th 2013.

Do It 2013: MIF 2013 Reviews

NEVER particularly musically gifted, it was with trepidation that I approached the do it 20 13 exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery.

An officious looking notice insists that all visitors must hum a tune on entering and all I could think of was the theme tune to Eastenders. Eastenders of all things.

I also didn’t really see the point unless my embarrassment was supposed to be some sort of artistic statement.

My musical efforts must have passed muster because I sauntered insouciantly passed the world’s youngest security guard. After psyching myself up for my musical performance, I felt slightly deceived and let down to walk into a tiny, dark room with no other exit but the one through which I came.

I tried to push aside my niggling feelings of resentment and found another entrance. I don’t even like humming but there was an instruction and I followed it. We’re a tractable lot us humans.

That’s the basis of the exhibition. Do it consists of instructions written by artists. Some are interactive, some are inspiring and some are just inane. This is the twentieth anniversary of the project, bringing together a mix of brand new instructions mixed with artists’ instructions from earlier shows.

Inside the gallery there was an array of slightly loony activities to try out and examples of artworks that had been produced through following these instructions. The activities themselves were a bit different. It is an ideal exhibition to take the kids to, very hands-on, but as an adult, alone, climbing a stepladder to the top of a big white cube, I felt a tad self-conscious - and daft.

I also didn’t really see the point unless my embarrassment was supposed to be some sort of artistic statement.

Shaking off my inhibitions, I got into the swing of things and veered from one instruction to the next. But after squeezing lemons on a bicycle saddle, what exactly did I take away from the experience except sticky hands?

005Big Brother isn't watching nowI was intrigued by Ai Weiwei’s instruction to deface a security camera and eagerly pushed aside my 'responsible citizen' mindset only to find that this instruction had already been ‘realised’ by Paul Morley. The equipment had been attached to the wall in order to stop vandals like me defacing a work of art.

Kind of defeats the object. Boo hiss.

My favourite piece was Yoko Ono’s Wish Piece. It’s not a premiere but it is done very well. As instructed, I wrote a wish on a luggage label and attached it to a tree.

Reading through the other wishes there were lots of laudable wishes for world peace, lots of sarcastic wishes for world peace - but the last word surely goes to this one:



FREE. Manchester Art Gallery until Sun 21 July. More information on do it 2013 here.

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