Broken Time is the first retrospective in Latin America of General Idea, a collective of Canadian artists formed in 1969 by AA Bronson (b. Michael Tims, Vancouver, Canada, 1946), Felix Partz (b. Ronald Gabe, Winnipeg, Canada, 1945 - Toronto, 1994), and Jorge Zontal (b. Slobodan Saia-Levi, Parma, Italy, 1944 - Toronto, 1994). Over the course of its twenty-five years of existence (1969-1994), the group produced a large body of groundbreaking works on an array of supports and in a variety of formats. It is still a point of reference for new generations of artists around the world.
Curated by Agustín Pérez Rubio, artistic director of MALBA, the exhibition provides an overview of General Idea’s trajectory. It addresses topics like archeology, history, sex, race, disease, self-representation, and the group’s myth of itself—a recurring theme in its production. The show encompasses close to one hundred and twenty works in all of the formats the collective used (performance, video, photography, publication, installation, and multiple editions of objects for mass consumption).
The aim of the project is to expand the horizon and outreach of the group’s legacy. It encompasses their first joint works, produced in 1969 and 1970, and their final creations, produced in 1994, the year when both Partz and Zontal died of complications related to AIDS. The conceptual focus of the show revolves around the alteration of time, the ephemeral, and the creation of myth by means of advertising, design, fashion, beauty contests, and the mass media.
General Idea published the magazine FILE from 1972 to 1989. The celebrated publication appropriated the design of LIFE magazine; some of the most radical artists and collectives of the period contributed to FILE, among them the collective Art Language, writer William Burroughs, and bands like The Talking Heads and The Residents.
General Idea was one of the first collectives to address AIDS in its work. In 1987, it looked to Robert Indiana’s LOVE statue to make a work with the word AIDS, creating a logo that appears in many of the pieces in this show. Featured as well are experimental projects from the sixties and seventies like Double Mirror, Miss General Idea (produced in 1984), Miss General Idea Pageant, Miss General Idea Pavilion, and large installations with pills that attest to the social and political dimension that the collective’s works had at the time and, indeed, continue to have.
In the framework of the exhibition, MALBA will publish a book featuring essays on the group’s production and aesthetic by the show’s curator Agustín Pérez Rubio, and by Gabriel Villalobos, Francesco Scasciamacchia, and Ivo Mesquita.
This exhibition is a coproduction of MALBA and Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo, where it was on exhibit from October 27, 2016, to February 12, 2017.
© Andrea Rossetti, courtesy the Estate of General Idea and Esther Schipper, Berlin.