research and exhibition at MIT 2011
March 22nd, 2012

Abitare on Disobedience archive at MIT

Learning & exhibiting. “Disobedience Archive” at MIT in Boston and other study cases.

In these last years the exhibit spaces of many academic institutions in Europe and in the United States of America are characterized by experimental programmes and interesting elaborations around the format of the art and architecture exhibition. After the unsuccessful experiment of Manifesta 6 in Cyprus, which will be the future of the combination learning&exhibiting?

posted by abitare

by Francesco Garutti

Almost six years have elapsed from Manifesta 6 in Nicosia, the curatorial project by Mai Abu ElDahab, Florian Waldvogel and Anton Vidokle that – inspired by the Black Mountain College founded in North Carolina in 1933 – had for some months fancied of transforming an European biennial into an Education project set up in a conflicting land, where there were neither art academies nor architecture schools. By now some years have elapsed also from “United Nation Plaza”, the temporary school that Vidokle himself decided to place in a Berlin ‘terrain vague’ in 2007, shortly after the sad conclusion of the Cypriot adventure, never become a reality, never transformed into a physical structure, just remained an interesting project.

Today, in a moment when the spaces dedicated to art and culture institutions are undergoing an interesting process of redefinition, in the light of the radical expansion of the global systems, of a renewed social participation and of the new territories explored by artists in these last years, some academic structures seem to be in the vanguard by hosting and often producing very high-quality exhibitions and projects at their premises, thus revealing and triggering interesting exchange mechanisms between the education world and that of producing art (or architectural research) and exhibition.

For instance Wattis in San Francisco is a space precisely born in a university context and for years capable, today even more under the guide of Jens Hoffmann, to produce exhibitions, often exploiting as driving force its relation with the academy (California College of Art – San Francisco). A clear example thereof is “John Baldessari: Class Assignments, (Optional)” as the future project announced during the last interview Hoffman realized for Abitare, “When attitudes became form, become attitudes” (September 2012) in which the famous and influential exhibition curated by Szemann at Kunsthalle Bern will be reread and rearticulated between past and future.

With regard to architecture, EPFL | École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and Architectural Association London, just to mention a few, realized in these last years various exhibitions apt to explore key themes and issues in the contemporary debate. Among these there is definitely “OMA Book Machine” (2010) curated by Brett Steele and Zak Kyes.

In this sense a few days ago closed at MIT Boston an exhibition which maybe more than others explores and puts to the test the fertile relation ground between education and display. “Disobedience – an ongoing video archive” was set up at the Media Lab Complex Lobby of the MIT in Boston, curated by Marco Scotini and Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas.

The archive of “Disobedience” explores and reveals the common ground, between present and past, where political and aesthetical practices merge in an organic whole of action and revolution. Already displayed in many exhibition sites such as Rawen Row in London or the Van Abben Museum in Rotterdam, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien in Berlin, the project reconfigures for the MIT academic context with a new display designed by Urbonas Studio, that includes in the archive pieces and videos the works realized by the American students during workshops and harbours local material relating to political and artistic actions developed in the Boston area (for instance Sylvère Lotringer, Hans Guggenheim, ACT UP, Juliet Stone).

As a long strip of garden, the display gets into the space of the faculty lobby, the setting up of the project echoes the forms of the community gardens and of the North-American protest tent camps. With no hierarchy inside – every piece, video, publication, testimony, has the same historic and aesthetic value – the archive being a complex and compressed aesthetic-critical device transforming into a tool for students and visitors. The school supports the research for the exhibition, completes the narrations, enriches with its contents. The exhibition and the research complete themselves, the school – really as infrastructure – produces and redistributes contents.

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