2014 - 2015 COOP Academy / The Van Abbemuseum presents: Practicing with Institutions, Instituting Practice
Course Leader: Nick Aikens
Participants: Jan Adriaans, Julieta Aguinaco, Maria Barlasov, Katia Barrett, Michelle Browne, Sarah Demoen, Bryony Gillard, Kristinn Gudmundsson, Nil Ilkbasaran, Martha Jager, Eona McCallum, Valentina Miorandi, Constanza Puente, Peter Sattler, Malina Suleiman, Laila Torres Mendieta.
"... there are two aspects of artistic institutional critique that still remain relevant: one aspect is thematizing and problematizing social and political conditions, and especially proposals for a good life, suggestions for possible new worlds, machinic-dividual production of desire, and the involvement in its actualization. This is where critical artistic practice also moves from the critique of the institution in the direction of instituting; it becomes an instituent practice." Gerald Raunig
'Practicing with institutions, instituting practice' begins from the premise that our understanding of state, democratic and cultural institutions needs to be put under pressure - co-opted and repurposed for the future. The institutions we have inherited from the past no longer seem fit for the complexities, challenges and opportunities of today. Artistic thinking and practice can serve an important role here, speculating and working with different models, not to tear them down and start again, but to re-think them from within. Alongside this we need to find practices, protocols and frameworks that can be instituted. Questioning and challenging different models should lead to action, of ways of working set in motion. In artistic terms this means what was once understood as institutional critique needs to develop, as Gerald Raunig suggests, towards the 'direction of instituting'. Viewed in its simplest terms, this comes down to questions of how we choose to work together – politically, intellectually and culturally.
'Practicing with institutions, instituting practice' will discuss and work through these ideas, with artistic practice (that of the guest tutors and the artists on the course) at its centre. The year will be structured around a series of seminars, each led in conjunction with an invited artist or cultural practitioner and centred around a specific practice or project. The seminars will combine an examination of different ways of 'practicing with institutions', from the state to the museum, alongside that of 'instituting practice', of finding ways and means to put in play that which we discuss. In this sense the course will move from assessing the macro to micro levels of working within and through notions of institutionality. The seminars will take place between the DAI in Arnhem and the Van Abbemuseum.
A week long workshop with Turkish artist Ahmet Öğüt took place in Spring 2015 in the central gallery of his exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum