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General Idea Life & Work by Sarah E.K. Smith
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The work of General Idea captured my attention when I was an art student in Kingston and learned that the faux destruction of The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion had been enacted in a performance in the very city I was living in. As a collective, General Idea had an enormous impact—within Canada and internationally—through their work and their efforts to shape the Canadian art scene. I am interested in the activism of the group, how they used visual culture to critique the structures of the art world, and, most prominently, how they explored issues surrounding AIDS.
Sarah E.K. Smith

Sarah E.K. Smith

Sarah E.K. Smith is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University, where she is affiliated with the Transnational Studies Initiative at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. She is also Affiliated Faculty at Queen’s University, where she works with graduate students in the Department of Art History & Art Conservation, and in the Cultural Studies program. As an art historian, her practice encompasses writing, curating and teaching. Her research is centred on contemporary art, with a specific focus on socially and politically engaged art in Canada.

          Smith received her PhD in Art History from Queen’s University and in 2014 was awarded the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal. She has worked as an independent curator and held the position of Curator of Contemporary Art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario. Major exhibition projects to date include I’m Not Myself At All: Deirdre Logue and Allyson Mitchell, 2015; Sorting Daemons: Art, Surveillance Regimes and Social Control, 2010–11, co-curated with Jan Allen; and Conversation Pieces, 2008. In 2015, Smith was the Canada-U.S. Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.