What Artists Institute: Occupational Utopias
Excerpt from Vittorio de Sica: Miracolo a Milano, 1951.
“All artists are alike: They dream of doing something that is more social, more collaborative, more real than art.”
“Artists are like astronauts: all of them train to go to space but only a few ever do.”
For our last colloquium session before the summer break, IXDM researcher Bernhard Garnicnig will discuss his PhD project:
My PhD research centers around the question of “What Artists Institute” when they conceptualise and implement art practices beyond working for, with and against institutions and employ liberation, occupation, escape, manipulation, affirmation, dissolution, theft or care in their work as attempts to shift the power dynamics encountered in institutions in the corporate-cultural-political continuum.
During recent work at the MAAT museum and while reflecting on case study material and media artefacts, Judith Adlers ethnographic study of the Critical Studies program at CalArts in the 1970s revealed questions towards such conceptualisations through what she describes as artists instituting “Occupational Utopias” in the academic work setting of a revolutionary yet short-lived Critical Studies program established by Maurice Stein.
Her ethnographic study “Artists in Offices” starts with wondering what makes artists seek employment in a Walt Disney funded art academy; artists for whom Duchamp previously claimed that “one is a painter because one wants so-called freedom: one does not want to go to the office every morning”. Through lenses revealed by her study, we will discuss how shifts in the power dynamics between artists and institutions create more than just a “freedom from” mass appeal or means of subsistence as self-serving power but allow a “freedom to” develop practices seeking to contribute towards micro- or macropolitical movements. Approaching the receding horizon of “Occupational Utopias”, we recover implicit imaginings, intentions and instincts found in instituent artistic practices.