Research Threads

Commissioned texts, visual essays and conversations on questions of power, resistance and the critical potential of art

This research thread seeks to revitalise the recent discourses and desires for rethinking institutions. It is an ongoing conversation that often starts by exploring the effects of bureaucratisation and normalisation in traditional institutional structures that homogenise research, evaluation procedures, collection and archival policies, exhibitions and audience engagement. Accepting these symptoms, what could be progressive and radical new models for art institutions today?

Considering ambitions, functions and attitudes as well as formats and experiences, every facet of an institution should be open to real transformation. Yet cultural entities have to perform a balancing act, regularly needing to improvise somewhat precariously whilst juggling different, often opposing perspectives.

Institutions today are by their very nature conflicted. They try to deal with being elitist, while wishing to be open; promote and preserve specific cultural artefacts, yet desire to deepen their social orientation; aspire to canonise, despite stating democratic objectivity; work to be socially and politically engaged yet adhere to the crushing logic of neoliberalism; and are obsessed with modernity, yet all the time, they try to imagine the future. Under these conditions, it is urgent for institutions to radically re-examine their role in society and to invent new structures for their constituent parts. Only then will they be able to project social, political and artistic functions with renewed relevance. So, where to begin?