There’s still time to catch The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion exhibit at the AGYU

From the late 1960s on, the artist collaborative known as the General Idea produced a vast array of leading-edge work. Members created video, painted, sculpted and performed their way into art history over the 25 years of their existence. Focused on the interaction between the artist, the media, the creative process, the museum and the audience, the collaborative created a fictional narrative to anchor their work, which they named The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion.

The three principal artists at the heart of General Idea were Canadian-born AA Bronson and Felix Partz and Italian-born Jorge Zontal. In 1977, they destroyed their pavillion (consistently misspelled) in a fictional fire. As The Canadian Encyclopedia recalls, the trio then turned their focus to searching the ruins of the pavillion for artifacts, switching their attention from performance-based art to objects.

Now, 32 years after the fictional destruction of The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion, the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU), following the General Idea’s own fictional procedures, has successfully “reconstructed” the pavillion along the lines of its original plans. Working with archaeologists, activists and the museums and collections that house the remnants of the pavillion (they say with tongue in cheek), the AGYU has brought all the material together for public viewing as part of the first stage of restoring the pavillion to the shell of its past glory.

Right and below: Images from the AGYU’s The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion exhibit, which runs at the gallery until Dec. 6. Photos courtesy of the AGYU.

The AGYU’s award-winning director Philip Monk is the exhibit’s curator. In this thought-provoking exhibit, the construction and destruction of The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion is documented at the AGYU by the recreation of two key exhibitions by the artistic trio: The Going Through the Notions and Reconstructing Futures exhibitions were first displayed at the Carmen Lamanna Gallery in 1975 and 1977. Of special interest is the fact that 26 years after his article “Editorials: General Idea and the Myth of Inhabitation” first appeared in Parachute #33, the art critic, otherwise known as Philip Monk, recants on his critique of them.

This exhibit is open to the public. The AGYU is located in the Accolade East Building on York’s Keele campus. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm; Wednesday from 10am to 8pm; Sunday from noon to 5pm; and closed Saturday. Admission to all exhibits and events is free.

Other AGYU activities

After a visit to The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion exhibit, patrons may be able to hop on the AGYU’s famed Performance Bus. This weekend, the AGYU is collaborating with artist Ulysses Castellanos, UpArt Fair and Art Toronto to stage a multi-part performance experience that takes people for a ride both on and off the Performance Bus. Come to the UpArt Fair gala on Friday evening from 7 to 10pm at the Gladstone Hotel and have Castellanos do your portrait like a clown. 

Later in the weekend, jump aboard the AGYU Performance Bus, departing from the Gladstone Hotel on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 12:30 pm, for a tour of Art Toronto at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The Performance Bus returns to the Gladstone Hotel for 3:30pm for one last look at the UpArt Fair.

For more information on these events and more, visit the Art Gallery of York University Web site.