Playing Doctor, 1991
ink jet print on vinyl-coated canvas
226.7 x 152.3 cm; image: 226.7 x 152.3 cm
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (no. EX-93-36)
Throughout its existence, the artists' collective General Idea (1969-94) never stopped reinventing itself through the world of images. "The image of the artist is the easiest to inhabit. Because of its historic richness, its ready but empty mythology (berets, paint brushes, palettes, in a word FORM without content), the shell which was art was simple to invade. We made art our home and assuming appearances strengthened by myth, occupied art's territory. Thus we became glamorous, made art, made ourselves over in the image of art." The members of the collective frequently placed themselves at centre stage in their own productions, and a series of self-portraits mark their career and highlight its development. The early self-portraits appropriate media images and divert them from their original meaning in order to ridicule the mythology surrounding a particular elitist, passé concept of art and the place of the artist in society. The later works "Playing Doctor" (1991) and "Fin de Siècle" (1992) confront viewers with the ravages of AIDS through simulations reduced to a few symbols in which it has become impossible to separate art from life.