Do It بالعربي is a new project presented to (and from) the Arab speaking world, based on the original Do It project initiated by Hans Ulrich Obrist in France, 1993.
Sharjah Art Foundation is holding the first Arabic version of the “Do It” project under the title Do It بالعربي, Do It in Arabic. Do It is a project which was initiated in France, 1993 by the renowned curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. Hans along with Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier thought of starting off this project as a set of instructions by 12 artists, instructions were eventually distributed for the public to follow and manifest. The first Do It exhibition was held in Austria in 1994. Do It بالعربي is the first of its kind in the Arab speaking world, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of the Sharjah Art Foundtion. The exhibition opened on Saturday 23 January, 2016 at Bait Al Shamsi, Sharjah and runs for three months.
Artists invited by the curator are asked to provide a set of instructions for the audience to follow or perform in order for the public to realize an artwork. Instructions vary in their nature; some are straight-forward practical instructions which fall under the theme of the artists’ works. Other instructions may be considered conceptual; audience may be encouraged to perform a certain task or act. Instructions can be intended to inspire, provoke thoughts and urge imagination. This project is considered revolutionary in the curatorial field as it expands the boundaries of the standard exhibitions and allows people of all ages and abilities to participate. It also breaks the glory, the protective showcases and the pedestals which sometimes create a hollow space between an artist and a viewer. They are no longer only allowed to observe from a distance.
Throughout the duration of the show, visitors of the exhibition will have the chance to participate by following instructions given by some of the most important figures in the Arabic speaking art world. Doing so gives the participant a chance to know the artist better as the instructions are simply a manual to one of their artworks, and a glimpse into their thoughts. Once manifesting any of the instructions, an individual automatically becomes part of one of the important projects of the contemporary art world, alongside prominent and reputable artists and curators. In Sharjah, the instructions are being activated by different groups, institutions, communities, in addition to individuals from the public. Also, social media is used as a channel to activate some of the instructions.
Do It بالعربي serves as much more than an interactive project, a publication, or an exhibition. It is a platform which represents the Arab world’s major issues, a channel in which artists speak out their common thoughts. Many of the instructions have a social and political nature, the issues which are the foremost worries of the Arab world today. Many of the instructions also encourage group work which exposes the desperate need of unity that the Arab world seeks. The project also perhaps serves as a measuring tool to evaluate the art awareness level of the audience in this part of the world, and their willingness to accept new curatorial approaches. It may also serve as an attempt to create a bridge between art institutions and other societies.