When I started this project, I was looking for something particular. I was thinking about project spaces as the ideal expression of a quasi self-sustainable and non-hierarchical society. Artists and groups on the outer edges of the ‘avant-garde’ have been forming collectives and utilizing creative funding strategies for years. But lately it seemed to me that rather than acting as a lever towards a more institutional career, the loose structure of the project space was becoming an end in itself. Was this international network of spaces working within the same language of contemporary art, many without knowledge of the others, a microcosm of the ideal anarchist society?
Actually the results were far more complex. The formats
and manifestations of these spaces stem from the initial idea and organization.
In one case, an artist simply wants to show work that interests him, in
another, a group begins a dialogue that is developed through exhibitions and
events. The motivations behind these initiatives are inextricably linked to the
manner of funding them. What constitutes an acceptable way to get funding is as
much a question of the integrity of the intention as it is a question of
By investigating the motivation for each of these spaces
and how they are funded, I have found an incredibly diverse set of ideas,
manifestations, and community connections that are articulated through the
financial strategies. A very different meaning is created when a project is
funded entirely from the administrators’ careers vs. when the artist passes a
hat around to get donations from visitors. Each of these strategies articulates
a unique perspective on the value of contemporary work within its community and
even a stance on how it ought to be positioned in society.
More important than the sociological implications of this study, is the practical potential. As on ongoing survey, it will be a shifting portrait of independent initiatives starting in 2010. It is also my hope that by publishing the anecdotes and experiences of the people who run these spaces that the creative ideas and strategies will become a resource to anyone currently running an independent project or thinking of starting one up.
Organization is an art practice emulating a Not-for-profit, whose projects are subject
to the oversight of a Board of Directors. It is a device for fragmenting the
authoritarian vision of the artist through collective processes and negotiation, and investigating what it means to work in the public interest. To learn more, visit www.autonomousorganization.org
Autonomous Organization is directed by Elysa Lozano.
Board: Helen Craggs, Clare Cumberlidge, Tom Dale, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, and Alex Lockett