Curator Hans Ulrich Obrist Will Soon Be Deciding What NYC High School Students Learn in Art Class

His "do it" project began as a kind of artistic call and response. Now, it will inform New York's high school arts curricula.

Hans-Ulrich Obrist, . Photo: ©Patrick McMullan.
Hans-Ulrich Obrist. Photo: ©Patrick McMullan.

As if Hans Ulrich Obrist didn’t already have enough to do, the omnipresent curator will now also be responsible for educating New York City’s public high school students.

At NADA Miami, Independent Curators International was selling prints by the artist Uri Aran in order to raise money for a new public school initiative based on Obrist’s ongoing “do it” exhibition series. The project began with artists formulating a basic instruction (e.g., Jonathan Horowitz: “choose two things that are similar and or different”) and other artists responding to it.

Uri Aran works inspired by Hans Ulrich Obrist’s “do it,” on view at Independent Curators International’s booth at NADA. Photo courtesy of Rachel Corbett.

The concept later became a book, and now Independent Curators International is developing “do it” as curricula for high school art classes.

“Students will reenact these instructions and make their own,” said Francisco Correa-Cordero, executive coordinator for Independent Curators International. “It’s kind of a different approach to art history classes, something a little more hands-on and where they can learn about contemporary artists that may not be that well known in textbooks.”

The do it compendium, which will serve as the textbook for Hans Ulrich Obrist’s new high school arts education project. Photo courtesy of Rachel Corbett.

The textbook for the class will be the compendium version of “do it,” which includes instructions from dozens of artists, including Louise Bourgeois, Ai Weiwei, and David Lynch.

“We want to make conceptual art more approachable for kids,” said Correa-Cordero. Although the plans aren’t entirely “official” yet, he said they hope to introduce the program next year.

They appear to be well on their way: A few hours into the opening of NADA’s preview, the organization had sold three of Aran’s works—which were created after following the instruction “doodle”—for $6,500 each, with all the proceeds going to support the initiative.

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