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

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).

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.

Revisiting: Steve McQueen

I first met Steve McQueen in Amsterdam in 1996, when I was still working at De Appel in Amsterdam, and he came over to do a talk there. He ended up moving from London to Amsterdam around the same time as I moved from Amsterdam to London. We stayed in touch though, and when in 1999 he had his first exhibition in a publicly funded space in his old and my new home town, the ICA, he invited me to get involved with the catalogue for the show.

One of the works that generated active debate was the insertion of a brick wall in the long corridor that runs alongside the downstairs exhibition space towards the bar and other spaces, without any label or explanation. I’ve always thought about it as referring to issues of access, or lack thereof, of various kinds that Steve has often talked about and that has recently become and extremely current topic in political terms. In recent years Steve’s intervention, which I am inclined to consider both a work and a curatorial statement, was inverted: the wall separating the exhibition space from the corridor was removed, so we could look into the exhibition space without entering it, opening things up for all to see.

The catalogue for Steve’s show has a shot of his feet, a still from the film Deadpan (1997), on the cover. It contains three essays – Robert Storr’s ‘Going Places’, Michael Newman’s ‘McQueen’s Materialism’, and Okwui Enwezor’s ‘Haptic Visions: The Films of Steve McQueen’ – that had already been commissioned before I became involved. Between them they cover a wide range of aspects related to Steve’s then still relatively small oeuvre, as he was only 30 at the time. Three international art heavyweights talking about an artist who was in the process of becoming a heavyweight himself… The show gave Steve the nomination for the Turner Prize that year, which he went on to win. It is of course only with hindsight that this show and its catalogue, and the many intense conversations we had in the years leading up to it, were clear signs of things to come.

The exhibition was curated by Susan Copping and Katya Garcia-Anton. The catalogue was co-published by the ICA, London, and the Kunsthalle Zurich, and designed by Luc Derycke (with whom I had worked previously on a publication on Gabriel Orozco’s project for Artangel).

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Public Enquiries

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I am currently proofing texts for a book entitled Public Enquiries, which follows a symposium that took place in 2016. Public Enquiries is a research project that has its starting point in the artistic practice of Kerstin Bergendal, with a particular focus on her project PARK LEK. More information about the different phases of the project can be found here.

The symposium at Valand Academy in Gothenburg was the third in a series (the previous ones were held at Marabouparken Konsthall in Stockholm and Somewhere in Copenhagen), and  considered how long-term, temporary artistic projects can influence discussions about sustainability, city and cultural planning, how situated artistic practices can work as forms of enquiry, and why such artistic practices are highly relevant today. Videos of the conference talks can be found here.

Contributors to the book include, among the artist herself, Aleksandra Ålund and René Rosales, Christian Bjork, Mary Jane Jacob, James Holston, Andrea Phillips, and Anna Pilebro Bryngelsson and Robert Chako.

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