How Institutions Think – book and launch

Coinciding with the third conference titled ‘Curating After the Global: Roadmaps for the Present’, organised by a range of partners, including CCS Bard and the LUMA Foundation, the book following the second symposium, How Institutions Think, was released.

Only receiving copies last week, I was surprised by the sheer pleasure of seeing and holding the final product, which this time was designed by Julia. Although I know the book probably better than anyone because I’ve read the texts so many times, feeling the weight and the texture of the cover and the paper, as well taking in the dimensions of the objects was a real surprise. Working with the designers, specifically Valerio di Lucente, was a real treat, as they seem to take such pleasure themselves in dealing with the objects in all their material intricacies. For an interview with Valerio about how it all came together (and a broader and better range of images) see here.

The following quote underlines the connection between the project’s concept, the diversity of content and the various forms, in terms of layout, the texts have been given.

To begin we decided upon an A4 format for the book. It seemed appropriate to start from a standard format used by almost every country in the world – apart from American influenced countries – and in some ways it represents the epitome of an institutionalised sheet of paper. The design expands on the symposium identity, whereby the book is built on a grid displaying different ‘constructs’. The essays’ layout changes throughout book, from one to two columns, from side-notes to footnotes. This variety reinforces the idea of a breadth of positions, rather than fixed conclusions. This design approach also allowed to better represent the tone and typology of the contributions. A longer column for deeper reads, a two-column system for more ‘narrative’ essays, and alternating widths for conversations.

It’s always a pleasure working with designers who work in this way, rather than simply ‘give shape’ to material. Although Valerio claims that Julia don’t design ‘by committee’, working from the content and the concept is by definition collaborative, and thus doesn’t feel hierarchical.

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Taking its title from Mary Douglas’s 1986 book, How Institutions Think, the texts in this anthology explore contemporary possibilities and limitations of institutional formats, practices and imaginaries, starting from a different place, namely from categories of knowledge, cognition and the social. Authors were invited to reconsider the practices, habits, models, revisions and rhetoric of institution and anti-institution in contemporary art and curating by considering practice, cognition and social bond, power/knowledge, and institution as an object of enquiry across many disciplines including political theory, organisational science and sociology.

Contributors are: Dave Beech, Mélanie Bouteloup, Nikita Yingqian Cai, Céline Condorelli, Binna Choi and Annette Kraus, Pip Day, Clémentine Deliss, Keller Easterling and Andrea Phillips, Bassam El Baroni, Charles Esche, Patricia Falguières, Patrick D. Flores, Marina Gržinić, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, Alhena Katsof, Emily Pethick, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Sarah Pierce, Moses Serubiri, Simon Sheikh, and Mick Wilson.

The book will be launched in London in January 2018 at The Showroom. Watch this space… In the meantime you can find it in a bookshop near you, or order it from the publishers MIT.

 

 

 

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PARSE

I recently received paper copies of the PARSE journals I’ve worked on, including the latest one on Secularity, which doubles as a catalogue for the Goteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art 2017, curated by Nav Haq, which is titled WheredoIandyoubegin.

Edited by Andrea Phillips, Nav Haq and Ola Sigurdson, the issue contains a wide range of texts that approach the notion of secularity from different angels. The journal and individual articles can be found on the PARSE website. PARSE is published by Valand Academy, University of Goteborg.Parse

More talk

I will be speaking at the upcoming John Berger Now conference in Canterbury on 12 September. The invitation for submission of abstracts was preceded by the following statement.

‘The death of the artist is a dividing line’ wrote John Berger in 1966. ‘Every artist’s work changes when he dies. And finally no one remembers what his work was like when he was alive … [His work] will have become evidence from the past, instead of being … a possible preparation for something to come.’

I will try and do justice to Berger’s legacy by approaching the seminal book Ways of Seeing – a book made by five of us, as the credits page states, and which followed the eponymous television programme in 1972 – from a curatorial perspective.

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For more information about the conference see the CCCU webpage and the facebook page. There is also a wordpress page for the event.

Last talk

Three times lucky for me: I’ll be talking at Birkbeck again this morning. Drawing on notions of authorship and translation, and making connections with ‘the curatorial’ and ‘the translational’ I will consider some case studies that I’ve been looking at recently, including the book Ways of Seeing.

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More talking…

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Not strictly talking about a specific book, but I will be in conversation with graphic designer Stuart Bailey this coming Tuesday, 20 June, about how we both approach our research around art books, and publishing about and in relation to art. Stuart finished his PhD at Reading in 2014, embracing Umberto Eco’s notion of the Open Work, something I am also interested in.

The talk will take place at Birkbeck, in a series of Corkscrew events that focus on practice-based or practice-related research. For more information click here.

On Management

Issue 5 of the open access PARSE Journal of Valand Academy of the University of Gothenburg has just gone online (click here to access the webpage). As always, it comprises an interesting range of texts, this time on ideas and practices related to management in the arts – both on individual and institutional levels.

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Contributors include the late Marc Fisher (Accelerate Management), Andrea Francke and Ross Jardine (Bureaucracy’s Labour: The Administrator as Subject), Christopher Newfield (Arts and Humanities Education as Neo-liberalism Comes Unglued), Karin Hansson (The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life: Between Alienation and Belonging), Carla Cruz (‘Save Our Library!’: Social Action, Austerity and The Big Society), Kaldun Bshara (Biennales in Palestine: Thinking Art and Making Art), Erling Björgvinsson (Managing Collaborative Critique in Times of Financialisation Capitalism), Dari Bae and Apolonija Šušteršic (Master Plan for Duamdong) and Barbara Czarniawska (After Practice: A Personal Reflection).