Fringe! General Idea: Video Works, 1977-1984

29 Nov 2015

Regular hours

10:00 – 19:00

Cost of entry

£9.50 / £7.60 Barbican members, £8.50 concs, £5 Young Barbican

Barbican Centre

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Moorgate / Barbican

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A rare screening of video work by the seminal Canadian artists' collective


The video works of General Idea provide an insight into the innovative and interdisciplinary practice of the seminal Canadian artists’ collective founded by AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, whose collaboration spanned three decades. Their practice crossed the disciplines of performance, video, installation, photography, publications and ephemera.The group in complete control of the production and distribution of their work used everything on hand to make their message as visible and as accessible as possible. General Idea worked together from 1969 until 1994 when Partz and Zontal died of AIDS. 

Renowned for their manipulation of the media and popular imagery through which they questioned functions of the art world as well as notions of western culture, the group used parody and irony to explore issues of gender and sexuality, consumerism and the influence of mass media. Belonging to the first generation of artists who used video as a platform the collective explored the multiple possibilities that the medium had to offer; empowering one in world creation while at the same time enabling them to talk back to the mainstream and hijack its values. General Idea used montage and appropriation as well as mainstream narratives, in order to subvert power structures and offer alternative meanings.

While using various formats and having some of their videos been broadcast on national television the group aimed at reaching as wide audiences as possible in an attempt to ‘infect’ popular culture. In the videos on show- chosen by AA Bronson, spanning from 1977 to 1984, we see a collapse of high and low culture, imaginary and real - characteristic of the group’s practice- in order to create an alternative world. A queer utopia constructed under the vision of the artists. The four videos on show offer a glimpse into the multi-sited universe of General Idea.

Pilot (1977)
Test Tube (1979)
Conrucopia (1982)
Shut the Fuck Up (1984)

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with AA Bronson.

What to expect? Toggle


Panos Fourtoulakis

Exhibiting artists

General Idea

AA Bronson


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