Launch of new international initiative I is for Institute

Launch of new international initiative I is for Institute

Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA)

[1] I is for Institute web platform. [2] Trevor Shimizu, installation view of Memoir, 2005. Single channel video, color, sound, 6:23 minutes, 32” monitor, oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal.


May 8, 2019
Launch of new international initiative I is for Institute
Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA)
118 S. 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Comprising an ambitious web platform and forthcoming collaborative exhibitions, I is for Institute inaugurates a new set of critical conversations around what contemporary arts institutions are and can be. Emerging from ICA’s interrogation of its own history and mission, I is for Institute delves into the perceptions the word “institute” conjures and how the term is used to identify and distinguish different organizational models.

The website documents informal conversations with a range of directors and curators about their individual perspectives on what it means to work in, build, and reimagine contemporary arts organizations today. These ongoing dialogues provide insight into the possibilities and parameters of institutions and reflect the different approaches to how contemporary art is communicated, exhibited, researched, and represented. The discussions highlight the labor that goes into running arts institutions, as well as the organizational structures, political contexts, and institutional histories that inform them. Participants include The Renaissance Society, The Showroom, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, RAW Material Company, KHOJ International Artists’ Association, Pivô, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Western Front, and Asia Art Archive, among others.

Alongside this digital component, the project addresses these questions through a series of institutional exchanges. The first is a partnership that will result in ICA inhabiting the Kunsthalle Lissabon in Portugal to examine how geographical and administrative differences challenge notions of institutional identity. From November 2019–January 2020, ICA will transform the Lisbon institution into an extension of its Philadelphia building to present an exhibition devoted to the video work of artist Trevor Shimizu, who is primarily known for paintings and drawings that exude a wry sense of humor. This exhibition will feature an in-depth survey of Shimizu’s video paintings, online interventions, and lo-fi media works dating from the late 1990s to the present, offering a prescient and poignant commentary on our socially mediated moment and its impact on affect, image, and self-representation.

While the project aims to generate a critical dialogue about the many articulations of what arts institutions are today, the spirit of I is for Institute is one of camaraderie and collegiality that imagines what institutions can be tomorrow.

I is for Institute is organized by ICA’s Alex Klein, Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE’60) Curator and Tausif Noor, Spiegel-Wilks Curatorial Fellow.

Support for the research and development of I is for Institute has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

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Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA)
May 8, 2019

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