2017 June 01 / 12:00
Institutions as a way of life

Institutions are an ambiguous subject. Some despise them for abuse of power or dominance over free will and choice, others rely on them to save us from corporate harm or social demise. In the worlds of art I got to know, the relations between artists and institutions are just as varied. I’ve seen short affairs or serious engagements, refusal by principle and embrace of the moment. In the few hours we have together, let us talk about the relationships we want and don’t want, should and should not, can and cannot have with institutions, and how we can work with, for or around them to create the things we would like to live among. 

To start our conversation, I’ll share some ideas and stories about institutionality as a site that can be occupied; about an artist who became a mayor of a village just to dissolve it once he succeeds; about making things that are bigger, more social, more collaborative than art; about an artist who found a fourth significant way of working within an institution and thereby changing its character and future; about instituent practices as alternative to entrepreneurship initiatives propagated by art schools; political practices that don’t require getting into politics; institutional fiction and institution building, the wireless occupation of a building from 1908 in the 3rd district, a superfood brand that wants to become the Red Bull of the art world and “Institutions as a way of life”, a research project that is about to begin.


Bernhard Garnicnig is the current Very Artistic Director of the Palais des Beaux Arts Wien, a historic site for futuristic art; he co-founded continent., a journal and publishing collective for thinking through media; and the Bregenz Biennale, a festival for ephemeral public art in the town he was born. He is the director of Supergood, a lifestyle brand and catering service that exists in the ambiguous space between product and performance.


Photo: Bernhard Garnicnig