The Huston School of Film & Digital Media

NUI Galway

10 – 5pm Friday 27th Feb 2015


In the context of what some call the crisis of the institution, the questions of how we organise ourselves, how we work together and how potentially we self-institute have never seemed so pertinent to ask, yet we seem to continually reach an idealogical impasse, do we withdraw from existing structures, or do we attempt to reclaim and reinvent them? The institutions of culture and art seem to be some of the last remaining public spaces for such re-imaginings, but how does this extend beyond providing the cultural content for such discourse and into the very organisational structure and activity of the institution itself? And with diminishing public resources with a drive to increase private sources of funding, for how long will these spaces remain public? Has socially engaged arts practice and critical curatorial work impacted how we consider the role and activities and agency of art institutions in society? Do the self-organised, DIY organisations of artists and movements such as Occupy and Open Source provide new models of horizontal and vertical organisations? What organisational forms have the potential to engage with and constitute new publics?


In a time of momentous changes, and where meaning and modes of production of culture are shifting dramatically, “Thinking through institutions” offers a space to consider and discuss how we organise and institute ourselves and the potential role for arts institutions in the democratisation of power, debate, criticality and cultural change, with leading national and international guest speakers; Helen Carey, Nuno Sacramento, Fiona Woods, Lane Raylea, Sarah Rifky, Sarah Pierce, Mick Wilson and more.


The contributors:

Lane Relyea teaches in the Department of Art Theory & Practice at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and is also the editor-in-chief of Art Journal, a quarterly publication of the College Art Association. Since 1983 his essays and reviews have appeared in numerous magazines including Artforum, Afterall, Texte zur Kunst, Parkett, Frieze, Modern Painters, Art in America and Flash Art. He has written monographs on Polly Apfelbaum, Richard Artschwager, Vija Celmins, Toba Khedoori, Monique Prieto and Wolfgang Tillmans among others, and contributed to such exhibition catalogs as Helter Skelter and Public Offerings (both Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 1992 and 2001 respectively). He has delivered lectures at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Harvard University, and the Art Institute of Chicago among other venues. After teaching for a decade at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, where he joined the faculty in 1991, in the summer of 2001 he was appointed director of the Core Program and Art History at the Glassell School of Art in Houston, Texas. His book Your Everyday Art World, on the effects of communication networks on artistic practice and its contexts, was published by MIT Press in 2013.


Helen Carey is Director of Fire Station Artists’ Studio in Dublin, supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, which provides support for the production and development of Art as well as residential studio accommodation for Artists.  Her most recently held positions include Director / Curator at Limerick City Gallery of Art, inaugural Director of the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, Director at Galway Arts Centre and Public Art Project Manager at @Bristol, a landmark millennium project.  She has most recently worked with Artists Ewa Partum, Michael Warren, Lida Abdul, Jamal Penjweny, Mark Curran with whom she is working on a long term project THE MARKET.  Her independent curatorial practice is concerned with enquiries around memory, history, work and cultural identities.


Nuno Sacramento was born in Maputo, Mozambique and now lives and works in Aberdeenshire where he is Director of the Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Lumsden. He is a graduate of the deAppel curatorial training programme and also completed a Doctorate in Visual Arts at the School of Media Arts and Imaging, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee. He is committed to issues of expediency of small arts organisations, land and ruralities, skills–sharing and co-labouration, 21st and the commons. He is involved in research, project curation, writing and lecturing.


Fiona Woods is a visual artist whose practice has long been concerned with questions of public-ness and common interest, and how those continue to matter or materialise in an increasingly post-public world. Her work often explores marginal or hybrid situations, taking the form of actions, images and publications, made individually and in collaboration with others. Upcoming and recent works include Im/Plants, a work with the National Sculpture Factory (Cork, 2015); one kind and another, forthcoming publication (2015); Action on the Plains, with M12 (US, 2014); Inclined to Be Lost, pamphlet for City (Re)Searches (2014); Lines in the City, with Susanne Bosch (Belfast 2013); Yak Yak, co-curated with Ian Tully (AUS, 2013). Woods is the recipient of a number of Arts Council of Ireland awards. She is a lecturer at Limerick School of Art &


Sarah Pierce lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. Since 2003, she has used the term The Metropolitan Complex to describe her project. Despite its institutional resonance, this title does not signify an organization. Instead, it demonstrates Pierce’s broad understanding of cultural work, articulated through working methods that often open up to the personal and the incidental. Characterized as a way to play with a shared neuroses of place (read ‘complex’ in the Freudian sense), whether a specific locality or a wider set of circumstances that frame interaction, her activity considers forms of gathering, both historical examples and those she initiates. The processes of research and presentation that Pierce undertakes highlight a continual renegotiation of the terms for making art: the potential for dissent and self-determination, the slippages between individual work and institution, and the proximity of past artworks.


Sarah Rifky is a writer and curator based in Cairo where she co-founded Beirut, an art space that thinks about institution building as a curatorial act. She is founder of CIRCA (Cairo International Resource Center for Art) and was Curator at Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art in Cairo 2009-2011. She was a Curatorial Agent of dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel, Germany. In 2010 she was Adjunct Professor of Art History and Theory at the American University in Cairo and co-manages MASS Alexandria, an independent study program for young artists in Egypt, with Wael Shawky. Rifky is author of The Going Insurrection (2011) and Delusions of Reference: In Defense of Art (ongoing). She is co-editor of the artist book Damascus: Tourists, Artists and Secret Agents (2009).


Mick Wilson (BA, MA, MSc, PhD) is an artist, teacher and researcher. He is the first Head of the Valand Academy of Arts, University of Gothenburg, Sweden (2012-); was previously the founder Dean of the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Ireland (2008-2012); and prior to this was first Head of Research and Postgraduate Development for the National College of Art and Design, Ireland (2005-2007). He completed his doctoral thesis on the subject of Conflicted Faculties: Rhetoric, Knowledge Conflict and the University (NUI, 2006) and has been developing doctoral education across the arts as Chair of the SHARE Network (2010-2014); member of the European Artistic Research Network, EARN (2005-); and working on the Platform for Artistic Research PARSE (2013-).  He is editor-in-chief for the new research journal PARSE ( launching in 2015.  Edited volumes: with Paul O’Neill (eds.) Curating Research, Publisher: OpenEditions/De Appel, London/Amsterdam (2014); with Schelte van Ruiten (ed.) SHARE Handbook for Artistic Research Education, ELIA, Amsterdam (2013); and with Paul O’Neill (ed.) Curating and the Educational Turn, Publisher: OpenEditions/De Appel, London/Amsterdam (2010).    Recent art projects / collaborations / group exhibitions include: “ODWC, Edmonton”, Latitude53, Canada (2014-5); “Aesthetics Jam”, Taipei Biennial, Taiwan (2014); “Joyful Wisdom”, Rezan Has Museum, Istanbul, Turkey (2013); “The Judgement is the Mirror”, Living Art Museum, Reykjavík, Iceland (2013); “some songs are sung slower”, (Solo) The Lab, Dublin (2013); “Of The Salt Bitter Sweet Sea: A Public Banquet”, CHQ, Dublin (2012).Recent publications include “Dead Public: An unfinished enquiry” in Catalin Gheorghe (ed.) Vector – artistic research in context, Iasi Romania (2014); “Anachronistic Aesthesis” in H.Slager (ed.) Experimental Aesthetics (2014); “Between Apparatus and Ethos: On Building a Research Pedagogy in the Arts” in James Elkins (ed.) Artists with PhDs: On the New Doctoral Degree in Studio Art, 2ed., New Academia Publishing, pp.341-359. (2014); ‘We are the Board, but what is an Assemblage?’ in M. Ambrozic & A. Vettese, (eds.) Art as a Thinking Process, Sternberg Press, (2013); “Come Promises From Teachers” in Offside Effect: Papers from the 1st Tbilisi Triennial, H. Slager (ed.), MetropolisM Books, (2013); “Blame it on Bologna” in MetropolisM No.2, April/May, Amsterdam (2013); “Art, Education and the Role of the Cultural Institution”, in B. Mikov and J. Doyle (eds.) European Management Models in Contemporary Art and Culture, Gower, London (2013).


This is a free event, but booking is essential:


Kindly supported by the Arts Council Curator in residence scheme, in partnership with Galway City Council, GMIT CCAM, Galway Arts Centre and the Huston Film School


For more information: