The Institute of Ruin

Shepley, Alec and Dutton, Steve (2013) The Institute of Ruin. In: Sensuous Knowledge 7, 23-25 January 2013, Kunsthgskolen/National Institute for the Arts, Bergen, Norway.

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Sensuous Knowledge 21th Jan AS-SD.docx

Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


“Under the intensity of creative experimentation (the situation and challenge of artists’ practice) each work asks itself (and therefore us, too) whether there might be a ‘place’ where culture has not yet reached; it hopes to be that ‘place’ – an elsewhere that is not yet a ‘place’ on culture’s terms”

If Institutional interests operate such an enclosing grip on the representation of cultural production is the prospect of a ‘place for art’ simply a utopian pipe dream?

Drawing on our own practices as artists and academics where we attempt to both subvert and use the rhetoric and structure of institutional knowledge production, either by creating mock Institutes and Departments or working with processes of ruination and institutional collapse, we will discuss a recent rise in the number of artists and artists' projects which are occupying Institutional structures in order to ‘place’ ambiguous, complex, conceptual and/or contradictory forms of practice, in particular we will look at such projects as The Institute of Beasts, The Department of Wrong Answers and the Faculty of Invisibility.

Our own respective practices demonstrate a knowing relationship to the impossibility of housing what Jon Thompson has described as the “mysterious ontological terrain within which all art must find itself”

But if this terrain were a place, what would it look like and how do our current institutions access it without closing it down. How do we, as both artists and academics place and house complexity? Could the institute itself ,as a place of articulation, examination, deconstruction and interrogation, be 'in ruins'?

These questions become more ever more critical if we are to create new sites and places for art and education, and new institutions for new forms of practice.

We will speculate on the ‘possibility of place’ re-imagining itself and what a new form of institution might look or even ‘feel’ like. We will discuss the potential of ‘place’ which is dedicated to the housing of its own impossibility and cite examples of recent practices and projects related to the concept of The Institute of Ruin is an idea in the making, the suggestion of a place which is not yet a 'place', a place which is always destroying and re-imagining itself anew.

Keywords:Ruin, artistic research
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Fine Arts)
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ID Code:12596
Deposited On:27 Nov 2013 15:03

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