Contemporary art and its institutions are subject to frequent accusations of irrelevance: that we live in a society where art is inaccessible, where the study and appreciation of art is a pastime for the elite and not much more. Art is, apparently, for the pseudo-intellectual, bourgeois middle classes or those collectors who pay extortionate amounts for whatever the latest celebrity-come-artist has trusted their way. Art is not for us.
Whilst this, unfortunately, appears to be the prevailing opinion towards the art world nowadays, there exist many attempts on the part of artists and curators to rectify this apparent snobbery by resituating the power into the hands of the public. Perhaps the most famous of these, Hans Ulrich Obrist’s ongoing Do It project, arrived at Manchester Art Gallery in July (it’s on until 22 September) and dominated the city’s International Festival.
Obrist and his colleagues have spent the last twenty…
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