From September to December, ArtCenter/South Florida and the Bureau for Cultural Strategies (BUX) are organizing The Recalibrated Institution: a 12-week paid fellowship and laboratory in Miami for developing and testing intelligences that address emerging and long-term systemic challenges.
Since the 1990s, contemporary cultural institutions have functioned as sites for propagating and valorizing a liberal cosmopolitan vision. Today, the unity and operative efficacy of this vision are being challenged by the impacts of digital technologies, financialization, and the mainstreaming of xenophobic policies. By the same token, some of these developments are creating novel possibilities for reconfiguring the structural agency and socio-economic function of cultural institutions. More than ever, there is a need to shift beyond the age-old divide of “infrastructures” versus “cultural content”––the back-end and the front-end of cultural institutional set-up––and to start prototyping strategies that think the two in tandem. The challenge is to develop cultural intelligences and tool-kits that are capable of enforcing this recalibration.
The Recalibrated Institution
The program takes the contemporary cultural institution as its artistic medium precisely because such institutions are junctures at which geopolitical and economic interests intersect. Whether in the form of the art market, the real estate market, or the “creative city,” cultural institutions routinely function as vehicles for comparative advantage and as access points to select financial and political networks. At the same time, cultural institutions continue to identify with various traditional roles: interfacing with the general public, preserving legacies, providing opportunities for cultural producers, representing and critically engaging with wider societal processes–a softened version of cosmopolitan nation-building at a city scale. The aim of the fellowship is to rework these different facets and to bring them into progressive structural realignments. Set in Miami, The Recalibrated Institution takes the city as a leading example of how development is defined in the global contemporary art system: the impact of real estate speculation on urbanism, changing demographics resulting from economic migration or wealth management, and the challenges posed by climate change and sea level rise. Cultural institutions are integral to coalescing these speculative and material interests by presenting Miami as a forward-facing global city to both its local populations as well as external investors. The Miami Model is a blueprint and hence a starting point in rethinking cultural strategy at different scales and contexts.
The eight fellows will work with strategists Marta Ferreira de Sá and Ben Singleton (Rival Strategy), theorist Suhail Malik (Programme Co-Director of the MFA in Fine Art, Goldsmiths, University of London), artist and Core Organizer of W.A.G.E Lise Soskolne and others on designing frameworks to be probed in partnership with different cultural institutions in Miami and internationally. A series of public programs will also unfold throughout the course of the fellowship program.