General Idea

Toronto , ON
Ontario CA
January, 1994

Interdisciplinary arts collective, video makers, Toronto. AA Bronson (Michael Tims, b. 1946), Felix Partz (Ronald Gabe, 1945 -1994), Jorge Zontal (Slobodan Saia-Levy,1944-1994). The homo pomo team’s best known video was Shut the Fuck Up (1985, 14), an analysis of the relationship of artists and the mass media the collective had been coyly flirting with since their inception. Incorporating imagery from Mondo Cane to Batman, the tape climaxed in a ringing challenge:

The pieces of the puzzle don’t add up, they just don’t add up. Are you listening? Are YOU listening? Do you get the picture, do YOU get the picture? Do you know what to say? Do you know what to say when there’s nothing to say? When there’s nothing to say, shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up.

Thereafter, this new activist orientation became increasingly visible in their work, especially around AIDS, as Partz and Zontal became sick. Underexposed in queer film and video festivals, perhaps because their work’s arch high conceptualism often lacked “capital-G” gay content or feel-good crowd-pleasing immediacy, or as Bronson charged, they were suspected of being politically incorrect with their much-flaunted icon of a poodle (Carr 2003), General Idea were among the Canadian artists best known on the international contemporary arts scene and received the Bell Canada Award in Video Art 2001. After his partners’ death, Bronson constructed a prizewinning solo career.