General Idea was formed in Toronto in 1969 by young artists Felix Partz, Jorje Zontal, and AA Bronson. Their pioneering conceptual practice critiqued mass culture using appropriation and satire. The group adopted a performative and proudly queer identity, and inspired by their Fluxus predecessors, manifested ideas in mediums like performance, multiples, and painting. Their campy humor, satire, and queer mischief stayed constant throughout their career, as did many motifs, such as drag beauty pageant proceedings, flamboyant poodles, and inflated AZT pills.
As the AIDS crisis intensified in the 1980s and many were affected by disease and stigma, social activism became an essential element of General Idea’s practice. Influenced by contemporary media theories, they reinterpreted popular images with small but critical mutations, coining the ‘image virus.’ Treasures in General Idea’s oeuvre take unconventional forms including wallpaper, crests, sex toys, cigars, and flags, each interconnected and clandestinely referential. Caviar20 is unique to focus on the group’s multiples.