The Artist ’s Institute
Anthony Huberman discusses the opening of a new institution
"The Artist’s Institute is a research institute in both senses of the word. In the academic context, an ‘institute’ is a place not for teaching, but for learning: for hypothetical and speculative research, for long-term and open research inquiries that happen in private. In the artworld context, an ‘institute’ is an ICA, a place for exhibitions, for dynamic public programming. The Artist’s Institute involves both of these activities, and puts them on equal footing. It’s a place where thinking about art matters just as much as showing art. It’s a place that locates artists at the centre.
Museum exhibitions tend to indicate a result, or signal a point of arrival. For The Artist’s Institute, the exhibition is a prologue: each season begins with a curatorial hypothesis that states the significance of a single artist’s work in the context of contemporary practice.
For the 2010 pilot season, The Artist’s Institute proposed that Robert Filliou’s work, questions, issues, priorities, ethics, techniques, etc resonate with how people think about art today. Guided by this initial proposal, the subsequent season is dedicated to testing this hypothesis. To animate this research, the Institute applies the ‘lens’ of Filliou to an examination of contemporary practice, which leads research to a wide range of other practitioners (artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, etc). While Filliou’s work is on view in the Institute’s public exhibition space on Eldridge Street for the entirety of the season, contributions by these other relevant artists are displayed in the space, one at a time, for a few weeks or a few days, in a series of loosely associated juxtapositions. With each presentation, new detours are added to our knowledge, and we move farther from our starting point, expanding elsewhere.
The defining character of the Institute’s curatorial method comes from its relationship to a school, in this case Hunter College. By considering exhibitions as moments when knowledge begins, not when it ends, the Institute establishes an ethic of learningby- doing that mimics the research-and process-oriented nature of an educational institution. An ‘exhibition institution’ (like a museum) often has an education department responsible for the de-coding or de-complicating of what is taking place in the galleries. In the reverse sense, an ‘education institution’ (like a university) can have an exhibition department, which can be responsible for taking the knowledge taught in classrooms and re-coding it, re-complicating it, and making sure it stays on the run, always propelled elsewhere. This is the goal of The Artist’s Institute, and is what ties it to the context of a university."