Institution as praxis: new curatorial directions for collaborative research

Balaskas, Bill and Rito, Carolina, eds. (2020) Institution as praxis: new curatorial directions for collaborative research. Berlin : Sternberg Press. 272p. ISBN 9783956795060


Institution as Praxis is a new book initiated by Nottingham Contemporary and the Midlands Higher Education Culture Forum (Collaborative Research Working Group, Arts Council England). The book is co-edited by Bill Balaskas and Carolina Rito, Professor of Creative Practice Research at Coventry University. It aims to identify and advocate for a multiplicity of practices taking place across the cultural sector, which do not only engage with the quest to deliver cultural activities (e.g. exhibitions, events), but generate new modes of knowledge production and research in the field of visual culture, art, and the curatorial. The project acknowledges that universities are not the only sites where knowledge is produced – a fact that is as unavoidable as it is exciting. Although the development of these methods is not new in the cultural field, Institution as Praxis aims to articulate how these practices contribute to new modes of knowledge production and research methodologies in non-academic and academic contexts. This publication aims to engage with current debates around collaborative research across the HE and cultural sectors, advocating for a more collaborative dialogue where cultural partners also contribute to the development of research questions and advance methods to further new modes of research. In line with Universities increased interest in widening the impact of academic research, this moment marks an opportunity to ask how this situation affects the ways in which research is conducted in collaboration with the cultural sector – e.g. Collaborative Doctoral Programmes, Research Councils funds, and Arts Councils’ research grants. The impact of academic research should not only value the benefits to the industry and the general public, but also consider how to learn from advanced practices that are already in operation in the cultural sector. Institution as Praxis investigates the ways in which we can propose alternatives to the traditional case-study research and identify investigative practices in the curatorial, art and visual cultures. Edited by Bill Balaskas and Carolina Rito, the book explores current debates and experimental practices across the HE and cultural sectors, indicating new curatorial and artistic directions for institutional research. This exploration inquires curatorial and artistic practices that have contributed to the expansion and invention of manifold research methodologies – institutional, practice-based, and collaborative, to name a few – and strategies that de-universalise and deneutralise the mechanisms of knowledge. The contributions take the form of essays, interviews, and project accounts. The essay “Networked Media and the Rise of Alternative Institutions: Art and Collaboration After 2008” by Bill Balaskas will explore the construction of material and immaterial micro-economies by artists and cultural organisations in the aftermath of 2008, and how they have been both informed by and resulted in new modes of collaborative research. The latter employ the shared value of the commons as a starting point in order to oppose the ramifications of data capitalism – a particularly harsh phase in the development of the capitalist economic model. This essay documents this shift in the social function of contemporary cultural production, exposing the often-paradigmatic role of the Web and new media technologies in the effort to collaborate differently for the common good.

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