Final Discussion Report

The last session of the conference was structured as an open debate, where the present participants were invited to propose any of the issues they considered most relevant. It opened up more concrete questions on how to open public institutions and tackled more structural issues relevant to the cultural sector in particular and the public sphere in general. As noted at the beginning, the participants of the session were mainly from South East European countries, proving these practitioners’ need and interest for more detailed discussions on open institutions and the potential changes they can bring to cultural systems in their respective countries. The participants in general agreed that fundamental changes within the cultural sector must be made. Several directions and focal points emerged during the discussion and could be subsumed into two general questions: What is the change we need? and How to bring about that change?

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Open Institutions: In Search for New Models of Collaboration Between NGOs and Public Institutions

Workshop and Public Discussion, Ljubljana, 14-15/2/2011
We are happy to announce the workshop and public discussion “Open Institutions: In Search for New Models of Collaboration Between NGOs and Public Institutions” which will be held in Ljubljana from the 14th to the 15th of February, 2011, in the City Museum of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
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Exploring Openness 3: Citizens Have the Right to Change Their Own Institutions

The session started and closed with the question on ownership of the institutions. In the case of Riksteatren, the new organizational form started when a theatre director realized the importance of inhabitants getting back the ownership over the city theatre. They have developed an interesting decision making model where 230 member associations and 40.000 members are deciding about the programme. The core question in every decision making about the theatre is how to stay relevant in a global context. Their members are in a constant dialogue with the aim of reaching a consensus, however reaching consensus means becoming dead institution. Read More »

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Sheikh: Our instituent practices should escape the established modes of institutionalization

When thinking about institutions we should not be focusing on set, already instituted ways of sociality, political relations, linguistic codes and imaginaries of possibility, but rather on changing the ways how we institute. Our instituent practices should escape the established modes of institutionalization, escape the horizon of our instituted practices – such is today the horizon of liberal democracy and free market – that defines what’s possible and makes other horizons impossible. Our problem is lack of other horizons, of alternative visions, of possibility of different worlds, and it is here that instituent practices – such as artistic practice with its re-odering of the material organization and ways of perceiving – can produce a break with the existing.

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Iveković & Milevska: Art and Invisible Labour, Political Critique, Activism…

Departing from the concept of artist as an institution the conversation of Suzana Milevska and Sanja Iveković analyses the role of the artist in the society through the recollection of Sanja’s work. Touching upon different stages of Sanja’s career, ever since podroom, the first artists run space in Croatia, which was concerned with artists’ workers rights, fight against art as comodity and art market, through her work with feminist groups and Arkzin up to present day and Istanbul Biennial the curator Milevska and the artist Iveković thematize invisible labour, political critique, activism and expectations from the artist in respect of these topics.

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Post-Yugoslav Cultural Institutions

In this report, we give a short overview of some of the main ideas expressed at the panel A Comparative View: Cultural Institutions In Post-Yugoslav Transformations. For more details, please listen to the audio recordnig (link at the bottom). Mirko Petrić gave a short intro into the historical context of post-Yugoslav institutions and made a critical observation on the emerging Museumsquartier-model of cultural institutions – big in numbers but without any autonomous production. Vesna Čopič explained three processes that form the cultural institutions from the socialist period: colonization of intellectuals, deprofessionalization and depolitization of culture. Branka Ćurčić also talked about heritage from late socialism in cultural institutions as well as the current trends of festivalization of culture in Novi Sad. Andrea Zlatar explained the unfair relation between the independent cultural sector and public cultural institutions. Suzana Milevska gave an insight into the current Macedonian cultural policy introducing a historicist monumentalism imposing history that never was.

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Exploring Openness 2: Need for Structural Change

The public institutions and NGOs should work together in a more solidary way for initiating a structural change. However, public institutions and and NGO cannot really be partners since they have really different starting point. The cooperation between public institutions and NGO should come out of a real interest and not out of quota.

Prepared by Meta Štular and Katja Praznik

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Šuvaković: Art is institutional practice

How do we recognize art? Who could be an artist? What is art practice in society? What is an institution? A building. Infrastructure. No. It is human relations that produce power. Art is not a decision, a statement or a representation of beliefs. Every kind of art refers to institutions, it gets transformed by institutions. Art is not innocent. It is the place of the class struggle.

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New hybrid institution: Pogon

Tomislav Medak and Zvonimir Dobrović gave an indepth presentation of the history of Pogon all the way from the Declaration for Independent Culture in 2005. up to the opening of Pogon in 2009. and the role the Alliance Operation City played in this process as well as in a wider cultural context. After presenting the institution’s model of governance, financing and the facilities it runs, several challenges the institution meets were stressed out, particularly the partnership with the City of Zagreb which experiences ups and downs. However the presentation ended on a a more inspiring note pointing out the importance and advantages of the new hybrid model of the institution based on civil-public partnership unique in our cultural landscape.

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Exploring Openness 1: Struggle to Maintain the Infrastructure

The speakers of the first part presented very different types of venues and spaces. Most of them were squatted by civil society initiatives and later became legally recognized by inventing specific types of partnerships between civil society and city authorities (that own the property in most cases). As a special case we can see Turkish example where the squatting is done by the capital (private companies) and not civil society. Read More »

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