COOP Academy ~ Practicing With Institutions, Instituting Practice II From Month to Month

Seminar 7: Thursday April 28th, 2016

Paths and Spices: Hosting and Guesting in Arnhem.

What are we making - or unmaking - during our time together? Are we instituting or de-instituting ourselves?

Ingingo y’ijambo iva mw'ijigo: thinking takes place as we drink together - or so a Rwandan proverb goes. Another says: when there is neither selfishness nor hatred, a rabbit’s skin is enough as a bed for two. While we feel uneasy with the righteousness of these winged words, we nevertheless invite you to join us and contemplate our twinned roles as host and guest in Arnhem.

Questions await and we may find answers along the way. In passing from the DAI to the Ruruhuis (and back, perhaps or continuing elsewhere) we will discover the role of a pineapple in these alternations; we will see the reading of a ventriloquist, a trace of a colour that does not exist and a host of other acts and images which resist wording. These encounters are in the form of an in-formal presentation between the DAI and the Ruruhuis, where we have been intermittent guests for the past year. Drinks will be served and a barbecue will be prepared by our friends Yoeri and Ray.

The evening takes place in the context of the Van Abbe's Co-op Academy Practicing With Institutions, Instituting Practice, led by Nick Aikens with guest tutor Christian Nyampeta. The course seminars have been held at Ruruhuis

Seminar 6: Thursday April 28th, 2016

Entering From The Inside: De-scripting a Praxis

With Nick Aikens and Christian Nyampeta 

After the last DAI week - and in relation to the rest of the year - our idea is to produce a series of posters. The posters, which we began last time will somehow spill out form and stand in relation to your practice, the house and the ideas we have been discussing. They will be designed individually unless students have a strong wish to work collaboratively. 

We would like these posters to appear in the city - intervene or compliment the city somehow. Part of the next DAI week will be deciding how and where they will appear. Our other focus will be the form they will take and, really importantly, what will be the relationship (physically, graphically, conceptually) to the house. 


– Develop further your questions from the last seminar

– Respond to the question visually by composing a poster (a response is not an answer, so you don't need to resolve your question. A question is but a guide)

– Bring along collected material for the folder. This collected material helps you in the response to your research question. The material can be scan from other book, source material, copies, etc.


The "aim" of the poster is not to give answers. Instead, let's think of the individual outdoor poster as an interface between your own interests and the context of the DAI, Arnhem and Ruruhuis.

Thursday April 28

 – Presentation of the individual posters in the space, to discuss them and suggest further actions

– Presentation of the content of the folder

– Walk through the city

Would someone like to propose another exercise? We will also ask Reinaart to give us a small tour through the neighbourhood. 

Each one of us should think about our own itinerary for the placement of our own poster.

- Dinner


A short text from Christian:


Seminar 5: Thursday March 17th, 2016

Entering From The Inside: De-scripting a Praxis

With Nick Aikens and Christian Nyampeta 

This DAI week Christian Nyampeta will be joining us. Below is a wonderfully eloquent introduction from Christian to the workshop. I have been speaking to him about the development of our discussions so far and how we envision the next phase within the ruru huis. As we were discussing last time, now is the moment to start making (making physically and making public) some of our ideas within the huis. One of the key formats we have been discussing so far is the idea of a fanzine. As you will see from Christian's ideas and how we have been discussing it - he proposes the creation of a series of folders and potentially posters - that will be produced next DAI week but also could extend beyond. What is so interesting and resonant about Christian’s proposed framing I think, is through the notion of hospitality. This of course holds resonance through our relationship to the huis, our time in Jakarta and in Arnhem. Whenever we meet as a group, we are always guests somehow. Our tutors are also guests into - and we visit a place that is temporary. So the notion of hospitality feels particularly fitting. We will meet at 11:00hrs at the ruru huis. Please read through Christian's notes carefully and particularly regarding how to prepare.

Background: Towards an Absolute Hospitality

In his discussions of Jacques Derrida's understanding of hospitality, philosopher Mark W. Westmoreland finds that the prevailing ethos of hospitality in the West is conditional. Conditional hospitality concerns itself with rights, duties, obligations, and so forth. This hospitality has a lineage tracing back to the Greco-Roman world, through the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and to the political philosophies of Kant and Hegel, who are important to the development of thought and regulation of aesthetics and morality in the West. As such, to this day hospitality has been regulated. For example, when it comes to politics, to hospitality in or of the state, conditions are always stipulated. In the history of the West, hospitality has always been juridical. This tradition, the one we have inherited, stretches back to ancient Greece in particular. The hospitality of ancient Greece was understood in relation to the law. In Athens, the foreigner xenos held some rights. Moreover, the foreigner was identified according to a pact xenia, and this social and also legislative pact is defining for understanding our subjects in relation to the sovereign. In the laws of hospitality, we find aspects of identity formation corresponding to the right of being and remaining which are granted by the state. The state establishes rules through which people can be divided into citizens and non-citizens, citizens and foreigners, hosts and guests.

In contrast, another kind of hospitality, an absolute hospitality requires that we open up our home and that we give not only to the foreigner, but to the absolute, unknown, anonymous other, and that we give place to them, that we let them come, that we let them arrive, and take place in the place we offer them, without asking of them either reciprocity, without entering into a pact, that is, without even asking their names.

Accordingly, this stance of unconditional hospitality claims that we thus enter from the inside: the master of the house is at home, but nonetheless s/he comes to enter his/her home through the guest—who comes from outside. In welcoming the guest, the self is interrupted.

Because the laws of hospitality receive inspiration from the law (of the society or the state), these laws and the law of hospitality simultaneously include and exclude one another. As result, absolute hospitality remains inconceivable and incomprehensible and thus becomes possible but as impossible. This makes absolute hospitality impracticable.


The workshop will take up the challenge of thinking towards a practice of such unconditional hospitality. In an attempt to enter our home from the inside, we will visit philosophers living and working outside of but in relation to the Western traditions. Specifically, we will watch a fragment taken from a recorded conversation between artist Christian Nyampeta and philosopher Isaïe Nzeyimana at the philosopher's home in Butare, Rwanda. The fragment touches upon the making, the uses, and the sharing of time and space with regards to the other, the visitor, the stranger. These considerations will bring us closer to a thinking of an unconditional hospitality.

Following this contextual introduction, we will proceed to translate these ideas into practices. What shapes and forms could characterise such an unconditional hospitality? What are the aesthetics of such absolute hospitality? What are the different types of emotions it brings about? What are the responses evoked by its antecedents? What are literary, material and other representations or expressions hereof? For example, is such a conversation between Nyampeta and Nzeyimana an instance of an unconditional hospitality? We will retain the modality of a conversation, and explore its implications in visual forms.

Methodology: De-scription

It is the interruption of the self which, paradoxically, also opens up a writing of the self, encapsulated in the phrase “de-scripting.” We take this phrase to mean the act of writing and un-writing. The methodology of “de-scripting” will help us to exteriorise our practice, through writing, away from ourself, in embrace of hospitality as an interruption—an interruption of the self. We will explore how this de-scripting will help us to create a hospitable environment of ideas. We follow the methodology inspired by one specific form of early asceticism: idiorrhythmy. This is a concept from late antiquities and early Western asceticism, which denotes a way of life of fugitives, deserters and outcasts, who roamed and inhabited the deserts of North Africa between the turn of the first millennium and 400 AC.

Singled out from the notion of idiorrhythmy, idios translates as particular, private, or one’s own. This is also at the origin of the words idiot and idiom, and bears relation to other concepts of identity formation including idea.

As such, this figure of idios inhabits (a) the horizon of a radical particularity common to all and yet contentious to attain, namely the insistence to resting, becoming the rest; (b) the realm of a “study”, understood in the sense of the act of loving the world. What kind of relation to the world emerges from the inhabitation of this ethical dimension of idios? The space of the conversations is such an ethical dimension, as it offers a speculative terrain in which to various and conflicting ideas can live together. The act of de-scripting is closely related to the insistence to “resting” and the attraction to a “study.”


The outcomes will consist of individual folders. The focus will be given to the covers, which can also be used as posters. We propose that these folders can be seen as an “embodiment” of a radical hospitality. Our reasoning is that owing to the collective and yet personal nature of the folder (explained below), the folder reorients the idea of a home as an interiority with one singular master, and makes us instead consider the possibility of a home, in this case a folder, as a public interior.


For these individual folders, each person in the group is asked to bring material in the form of 10-15 A4 printouts which will be shared by all of us as a "resource" to make our own notebooks. We would like the material to be related to your research, your recent trips, works, activities, holidays, etc. It could be images, found text, text you are reading or your own writing, work you have produced or notes you have made, receipts or recipes, etc. In essence, the printouts should be remnants, traces or literal or conceptual recordings of your journeys and encounters. These A4 printouts will be used as the basis for a discussion and reflection of your own practice. For example, what did you draw from them and how have they have informed your thinking, both about your work and your time at the DAI? A copy machine and a printer will be available throughout the workshop.


Using this collective resource and a supplement of blank pages, we will make individual folders, with a focus given on the cover of the folder, which can be used as a poster.


In addition to the text already circulated, the reading material will be updated and made available in the Dropbox folder in the next days.

Seminar 4: Thursday February 11th, 2016


With Nick Aikens, Annie Fletcher and Ruangrupa

For this DAI week we will be joined by my colleague Annie Fletcher and Ruangrupa. Annie and I will begin by talking about alternative forms of artistic encounters, drawing on projects we have both worked on in and outside the museum. Then, following on form our conversations about how to work in / with / through the RuRu House we would be good to return the Survival Kit of Ruangrupa. We will revisit the text again and use it as the starting point for something to include in a March intervention at the RuRu House. This would mean picking up on specific ideas put forward in the text. It could be in the form of a project you are working on, a related text, an idea for an intervention, a dish to serve, or a film to screen in the space. Students are very welcome to think in pairs or small groups, though it might be difficult with everyone in different places. In the evening we are then going to meet some of the guys form Ruangrupa who are in town and discuss some of our ideas and who to invite.  We will then build on these discussions in the Friday sessions. 

Seminar 3: Thursday January 7th, 2016

Instituting Deviance

With Nick Aikens, Charles Esche and Reinaart Vanhoo

Having instituted a process of unlearning with Annette in seminar 1, particularly in relation to what the word and idea of institutions mean to us, and having gone to Indonesia where we (or certainly I) felt opened up to a very different concept of what working with institutions might mean, it is time to reflect and think how we might institute modes of working back in the heart of western Europe.

The day will begin with lunch at the Van Abbe and a reflection with Charles Esche on the trip. We will carry this into a seminar after lunch where we will tie our reflections from Jakarta into a reflection - with the aid of some texts - on how we might rethink our understanding of, and relationship to, the European art institution. It is something we have been reflecting on at the Van Abbe, but feels in sharper relief after leaving the confines of Europe and heading south. As Charles writes in one of the texts we will look at the question, as we stand from Europe, is 'not what art to show but what politics to stand behind'. We will try and consider this statement from the perspective of both the institution and artistic practice. We will also discuss a couple of case studies of artists who are proposing new approaches to 'practicing with institutions'.

Before leaving the Van Abbe at around 5 we will find time to visit the current Positions exhibition, hopefully with an intro by Annie Fletcher. We'll then have dinner at the DAI before heading to the ruru huis for a discussion with Reinaart about how we might use the house. I would like to propose a way of making public - or publicly mediating - our presence in the huis and your time in Indonesia. How we might do that is not yet clear but one option is to present something in the gallery space in February.

Seminar 1: Thursday October 15,

Unlearning at the ruru huis

With Nick Aikens, Annette Kraus, ruan gruppa and Reinaart Vanhoo.

 For the first seminar we will gather at the ruru huis, our home from home from home in Arhem. We will start by introducing ourselves, the course and the house. The house is an ad hoc institution set up by ruan gruppa and Reinaart Vanhoo as part of the 2016 Sonsbeek. It’s their base in Arnhem for the coming year as well as the site of an evolving project for the exhibition. They are kindly hosting us once a month as well as being guest tutors on the course.

We are going to start by unlearning as intensely, acutely, fiercely, convivially as we can. If one of the aims of the course is to think about ways in which we can re-think institutional models and protocols, as we all as how we might institute new forms of practice, it seems necessary to undo some of the preconceptions we might have. This is not to replace them with new concepts and models. That might come later. Rather, it is to challenge our understanding of how we formulate certain ideas or modes of being, where they come form and what are the drives behind them.

The study and process of unlearning has been the focus of Annette Kraus research and practice over recent years. She sums it up succinctly:

“How can we understand processes of unlearning and art’s stake in this?
Through my long-term artistic research into normalization processes,
(non-)institutional learning processes and hierarchical knowledge systems I’ve
come to consider unlearning as an active critical interrogation of normative
structures: A process of becoming aware and being accountable for taken for
granted ‘truths’ of theory and practice through getting rid of habits of thoughts
and habits of behaviour. But how to approach the phenomena of unlearning
physically, intellectually, and collaboratively?”

Annette will introduce us to her research and practice before we work through some of the protocols of unlearning. On Friday we will continue with Annette in small groups where we will relate the concepts of unlearning to your own practice.