How Institutions Think

cover-draftFollowing the conference titled ‘How Institutions Think’, which took place in Arles in 2016, and which was organised by CCS Bard, Central St. Martins, Valand Academy (University of Gothenburg) and the Luma Foundation, work has commenced on the book. I will be working on it as managing editor, alongside editors Paul O’Neill, Lucy Steeds and Mick Wilson.

The publication How Institutions Think: Between Contemporary Art and Curatorial Discourse brings together an international and multi-disciplinary group of writers who will reflect upon how institutional practices inform art, curatorial, educational and research practices as much as they shape the world around us. It also aims to propose new and emergent forms of institutional practice. Implementing a work-together methodology, combining and sharing networks and knowledge resources, the publication asks how we may begin to conceptualise and build possible institutions/anti-institutions of the future: What are the models, resources, skills and knowledge bases required to build new and progressive institutions now and in the future, if that is indeed possible?

Contributors include Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Dave Beech, Mélanie Bouteloup, Nikita Yingqian Cai, 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, Alhena Katsof, Emily Pethick, Sarah Pierce, Zahia Rahmani, Moses Serubiri, Simon Sheikh and Mick Wilson.

How Institutions Think is the second in a series of three publications and builds on the success of The Curatorial Conundrum: What to Study? What to Research? What to Practice? (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2016).It is due in September 2017.


Artist Anthony Shrag and I have been talking for a while about a publication. Whether that will indeed take the form of a book, or may manifest itself in a different way, key to our conversations are the conversations themselves. In his own practice as a socially engaged artist, conversation is an integral aspect. Without it nothing happens, as, after all, he is supposed to engage with people, and like for many artists whose practice is social, communication is at its core. The reality though is that much of that kind of practice is also surrounded by assumptions, misunderstandings, lack of infrastructure, or simply different expectations and agendas often creating (sometimes insurmountable) hurdles and/or confusion among parties involved, from commissioners, to funders, to communities, to the artists themselves. So for the moment he and I are just talking about how his experiences, in recent projects, but also in his practice as a whole and other artists’ practices in general, can be translated into something that may make sense to other people, and from which we can take something away in some shape or form.

We’ve noticed that when we talk, both our thinking shifts, becomes more precise or things somehow click into place, so that how we can possibly think things through becomes clearer. This collaborative process is something that tends to not be talked about, but we realise is important for many people, and many practices. We started our conversation ‘proper’ when I spent a day with him in July 2016, when he was on his way from Huntly in Aberdeenshire to Venice, as part of his project Lure of the Lost, commissioned by Deveron Arts. On the day I met him in Langley Mill in Nottinghamshire, we walked and talked for 8 hours solid. He kept a blog during his pilgrimage and I kept him company mentally and musically by posting a tune a day on his facebook wall, which he subsequently put up on his blog. After he finished, we decided we should keep talking… We’ll let you know when we get to wherever we’re going with this.2015-07-14 14.54.33.jpg