A Weekly Artwork Selection
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Spotlight: A Weekly Artwork Selection

General Idea, S/HE, 1976

General Idea, S/HE, 1976, silver gelatin prints, 10 elements, 78,7 x 61 cm (31 x 24 1/8 in) each (unframed),
79,5 x 63 cm (31 1/4 x 24 3/4 in) each (framed)
Photos © Adam Reich
General idea
S/HE, 1976
Silver gelatin prints, 10 elements
78,7 x 61 cm (31 x 24 1/8 in) each (unframed)
79,5 x 63 cm (31 1/4 x 24 3/4 in) each (framed)
Edition of 2 plus 1 artist's proof
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On the occasion of Frieze New York 2021 (May 5–9) and our solo presentation with General Idea in collaboration with Mitchell-Innes & Nash we are pleased to present General Idea's S/HE as part of our Spotlight series.

Playing with gender, the two groups of five black-and-white photographs show two models, one male, one female, both professional fashion models from General Idea’s circle of friends. Each model illustrates five roles more usually assigned as male or female: Celebrity, Architect, Muse, Olympian, and Empress.
The postures or silhouettes are lifted from the relentlessly optimistic 1950s advertising in Fortune Magazine, when European postwar reconstruction and North American corporate expansion both were positioned as aspirational and heroic, as Progress: the images hark back to a time when the female image was used to portray the muse, the future, peace or prosperity, while the image of the male (often in trios, by the way) portrayed the architects of that shining future as athletes, industrialists or politicians.
“What’s with her? What’s her number? Who does she think she is? What’s this fleshed-out frame-of-mind she’s mocking up with this pose?

She’s lost in thought, drawing on her imagination, just a role-model modeling an inspiration. Now see her vacantly awaiting her cues. Where does she get her ideas?”

By 1976, that picturing was suspect: Progress was banished and post-modernism replaced it. In the artists’ captions—every advertising image has to have a text—General Idea makes the gender drag explicit, using their typical arch phrase-craft; each photo is accompanied by a list of probing questions whose lingo springs in equal measure from Polari (the gay and drag sub-cultural coded vernacular of the 1950s) and fashion ad-copy, but is of course entirely General Idea’s cunning creation. By transposing and cross-pollinating the dubiously gendered images and texts, they produce two sets of muddled role play, in which male and female are interchangeable. Much as a man can be the ideal of supple beauty, so a woman can be the conquering hero.


Exhibition history:
General Idea Photographs (1969-1982), MAMCO, Geneva (May 31, 2017 – February 4, 2018)
Is Toronto Burning? 1977|1978|1979. Three Years in the Making (and Unmaking) of the Toronto Art Scene, Art Gallery of York University, Toronto (September 17 – December 7, 2014)
S/HE, St. Lawrence College Art Gallery, Kingston (November 7–18, 1977)
Artists and Models, Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto (January 8–27, 1977)
“What are you making him do? Well, what can you really expect? What’re these cues and expectations he’s tossing back to affect?

He’s found them out and acted them out. hand-to-mouth-to-mike-to-you. He’s presumed (and he’s right) that he’s consumed. He did it all for you.”

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Video: AA Bronson introduces General Idea's photographic work

Video © MAMCO, Geneva
Watch now – Co-founder of General Idea, AA Bronson introduces the 2017 exhibition
General Idea: Photographs (1969–1982) at MAMCO, Geneva, which included S/HE, 1976.
 

Frieze New York – Online Viewing Room
with Mitchell-Innes & Nash

General Idea, El Dorado Series, 1992
Photos © Andrea Rossetti
Frieze New York
Online Viewing Room
May 5 – May 14, 2021
www.frieze.com


From May 5 through May 14, visit our Frieze New York Online Viewing Room where we present, together with Mitchell-Innes & Nash, works by General Idea.

If you wish to receive a dossier, or should you have any questions about our presentation at Frieze New York, please contact Marek Obara: obara@estherschipper.com
 
General Idea was formed in 1969 by AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal.<br>AA Bronson, born Michael Tims, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (born 1946).<br>Felix Partz, born Ronald Gabe, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (1945–1994).<br>Jorge Zontal, born Slobodan Saia-Levy, Parma, Italy (1944–1994).<br><br>The three artists worked and lived together until the deaths of Partz and Zontal in 1994.

General Idea was formed in 1969 by AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal.
AA Bronson, born Michael Tims, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (born 1946).
Felix Partz, born Ronald Gabe, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (1945–1994).
Jorge Zontal, born Slobodan Saia-Levy, Parma, Italy (1944–1994).

The three artists worked and lived together until the deaths of Partz and Zontal in 1994.


Several major touring survey exhibitions of General Idea’s work have been held, including: General Idea: Photographs (1969–1982), MAMCO, Geneva (2017); Tiempo Partido, MALBA, Buenos Aires and Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2016–17); Haute Culture: General Idea. Une rétrospective, 1969 –1994, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris and Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2011); General Idea Editions: 1967–1995, which toured to 18 venues between 2003 and 2007, including the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Seville; Kunstverein München, Munich; Kunst-Werke, Berlin; Kunsthalle Zürich; Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, and Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto, Mississauga; Fin de siècle, which toured between 1992 and 1993 to Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart; Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona; Kunstverein in Hamburg, The Power Plant, Toronto, Wexner Center for the Visual Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, and SFMOMA, San Francisco.

A retrospective of General Idea’s work will take place at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, opening in June 2022.

General Idea, Self-Portrait with Objects, 1981/82
© The Estate of General Idea
 

Reading Corner

General Idea<br>

General Idea

P is for Poodle
2020
Publisher: Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York
Co-published in part by Maureen Paley, London; Esther Schipper, Berlin; and Mai 36, Zurich.
Language: English

Available here

General Idea<br><b>Tiempo Partido<br></b>2017<br>

General Idea
Tiempo Partido
2017

Publisher: MALBA, Buenos Aires
Language: Spanish (with English appendix)

Available here

General Idea<br>

General Idea

Ziggurat
2017
Publisher: Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York
Language: English

Available here

General Idea<br>

General Idea

Haute Culture: A ​Retrospective 1969-1994
2016
Publisher: JRP|Ringier, Zurich
Language: English

Available here

 
Esther Schipper GmbH, Potsdamer Stra├če 87, 10785 Berlin