RAW Académie is an experimental residential program for the research and study of artistic and curatorial practice and thought. The programme usually takes place over seven weeks in Dakar. It is dedicated to a dynamic reflection on artistic research, curatorial practice and critical writing. The Académie is held during two distinct sessions per year; May-June and September-November. Session 9 will take place in Philadelphia at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania (ICA), and will be led by artist, writer, filmmaker and activist Linda Goode Bryant. It will run from September 28 to November 13 2020.
For centuries, the infrastructure that props up today’s global production and market for art has been based on a business model that adheres to the fundamental principles and values of material gain and worth. Despite changes in the ways cultures and art have evolved during that same period, this infrastructure has essentially remained the same.
What if a different type of infrastructure were to be envisioned? One that is as antithetical as David Hammons’s Concerto in Black and Blue (2002) was to the relationship and expectations between artist and commercial gallery and to the core purpose and intent of the business of art? What if that infrastructure were based on a cultural or creative model? Would it adhere to principles and values shaped by its care for humanity?
Could this infrastructure adequately and effectively support the life needs and creative practices of 21st century artists? How would it value art works and art makers? What would its structure, facilities, and operations need to be? Would art be discovered or happened upon by people going about their daily routines, such as with the wine bottle and snowball sales of David Hammons, or Senga Nengudi’s freeway performances, or Lorraine O’Grady’s Art Is (1983)?
Would it offer public programs? Would its installation of art be contextual, like footnotes in a David Foster Wallace story, instead of disassociated from the time, circumstances and conditions when the work was made and where it is engaged? Would the purpose, roles and power of curators and critics, museums and galleries, dealers, collectors and the donor class change with regards to their relationship with art, artists and the public?
What if the value of art was based on its human and social impact rather than its value as a commodity? Fundamentally, can we imagine infrastructure that would be permeable to and informed by methodologies of artistic practice itself, in a reversal of today’s prevailing, dominant model? What would it resemble if informed by the structure of Lawrence “Butch” Morris’ method of conduction, the visual cacophony of Arthur Jafa’s moving images, or the organizational logic of Janet Henry’s Black Currant magazines, to name but a few examples of artistic practices that generate a different type of infrastructural form.
Using the public art museum as both a point of connection and departure from art’s current infrastructure, and situated at the ICA, Session 9 fellows will engage with and begin to answer these questions as they envision and conceive of an infrastructure that supports and expands the level and degree to which artists pursue a perpetual need to create and create anew. A structure that diversifies the ways and means for making artists more self-sufficient in meeting their living and creative needs, drawing on knowledge born from the artists and their works themselves. An infrastructure that can exist as creative hubs within local communities and that expands ongoing access and direct engagement with art as a natural, daily part of life.
The curriculum will include discussions, presentations, and workshops with invited faculty, visits to cultural institutions seeking answers to similar questions, and the mounting of an evolutive exhibition at the ICA, beginning September 25, 2020 and culminating January 24, 2021.
Invited faculty members will include artist Arthur Jafa, curators Rujeko Hockley and Thomas Lax, and writer and musician Greg Tate, with more to be announced.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, USA, Linda Goode Bryant is an artist, writer, filmmaker and activist. Bryant received her B.A. at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and a Master's degree in Business from Columbia University in New York City. Linda co-produced and directed Flag Wars (2003), a cinéma vérité Emmy Award-nominated documentary. She is a 2004 Guggenheim Fellow and Peabody Award winner. Linda was Founding Director of Just Above Midtown (JAM), a New York City non-profit interdisciplinary artists’ space that supported new work by emerging visual, video, and film artists, choreographers, musicians, writers, and performance and theater artists. JAM was the first gallery space to exhibit the work of African-American artists and other artists of color in a major gallery district, and is the subject of a 2020 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
In 2003 Goode Bryant founded the Active Citizen Project (ACP), a non-profit organization that serves as a catalyst and laboratory for broad-based public activism using art and new media as tools for social change.
The Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania believes in the power of art and artists to inform and inspire. The ICA is free for all to engage and connect with the art of our time.
Founded in 1963 by the visionary dean of the school of architecture, Holmes Perkins, who wanted to expose students to what was “new and happening” in art and culture, ICA has developed an international reputation as a preeminent venue for contemporary art and culture. A non-collecting museum, ICA is also one of the only kunsthalles in America. As part of the University of Pennsylvania, its artist-centric program is complemented by the intellectual rigor of a premier academic institution.
The collaboration with RAW Académie grew out of the ICA initiative I is for Institute, which examines the perceptions and parameters of contemporary arts institutions as a way to create a space for dialogue about how we might re-imagine them. The project unfolds through a series of exhibitions and conversations with curators and directors reflecting on their work in their institutional and local contexts. The conversations are archived online at iisforinstitute.icaphila.org
RAW Académie is a tuition-free experimental study program. The ICA will provide assistance with travel, accommodations, and basic living expenses to successful applicants from outside of the Philadelphia region. A maximum of 10 fellows are selected for each session. The application process is online only, and closes on March 15 2020.
The selection committee for Session 9 is made up of Linda Goode Bryant and the curatorial teams of RAW Material Company and ICA. Only short-listed applicants will be notified and invited for an online interview, the final selection will be made by April 15. Please apply here.