General Idea @Stedelijk

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★ index cards

'index cards' by general idea, 1969

_their cards played the role of prompts for projects [reference to Fluxus group] + they were also doing mail art

General Idea's Index Cards documents ideas for projects and actions, only some of which were realized. The group made more than 200 cards, grouping them into categories such as Event Series, Act/Action. The cards doubled as building blocks for the identity of General Idea, through which the group constructed and promoted its own myth.

★ gold diggers of '84


'gold diggers of '84', general idea, 1977

_"their shameless and most ambitious" mail-art project
_they created card and claimed it is a piece of work + added a certificate of ownership in the envelope
_sent to individuals, but also institutions - such as museums and big galleries - "in the collection of..."
_offset print on card and on bond paper

Though it consists of two modest prints, this was one of General Idea's most ambitious and opportunistic mail-art projects, in which they shamelessly attempted to push their way into prestigious collections around the world. The group sent a mailer to ninety individuals and institutions stating that the card itself was a work of art. They then created a certificate declaring the artwork to be owned by these private and public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, and the National Gallery of Canada.



General Idea is a groundbreaking Canadian artist group that in the 70’s and 80’s was renowned for their satirical approach to the deconstruction of the media and the art world. The exhibition is the largest-­ever survey of their oeuvre, comprised of large sculptures and installations, paintings, videos and publications, archival material – and their signature wallpapers.
General Idea consisted of Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson and came to an end in 1994, with the untimely deaths of Partz and Zontal of AIDS. General Idea critiqued popular media and the art world through witty and visually arresting artworks. General Idea took on mass media, consumer culture, queer identity, the art economy, social inequality, and the AIDS epidemic with their unique brand of ‘serious humor’: a subversive and absurdist approach to language and imagery, always with an earnest intent.  General Idea can be seen as pioneers of ‘creative activism’; their practice of inserting their artwork directly into the public sphere, as they did with their AIDS posters, laid the groundwork for conceptually­ driven activist engagement for a new generation of artists.

▶▶ exhibition webpage