The conference Open Institutions is an attempt to revisit the changing institutional landscape of culture: How can we reshape cultural institutions, common resources and cultural public sphere to withstand the challenges of marketization of culture, austerity politics and institutional parochialism?

For instance, in our local context, 1990-ties saw the public cultural institutions side with the nationalist identitarian projects and in return retain the tight control over the cultural system. At the same time, independent cultural actors started to emerge, following in footsteps of anti-war activism, human rights groups and other forms of social movements, and eventually created a parallel, burgeoning art and cultural scene. Throughout 2000s, however, as political projects of building national identities lost their momentum, public institutions went back to their old institutional politics and found themselves even further apart from new social and cultural developments.

This conference presents a provocation and an inquiry in institutional design, questioning what role should and can progressive cultural institutions, organizations, venues, initiatives, and projects across Europe – and elsewhere – assume. It’s topic – Open Institutions – echoes a double demand: to open new forms of institutions and make old institutions more open to their artistic field and social context. We wish to discuss issues of access to resources, institutional politics, institutional critique, social agency of institutions that will allow us to understand if and in what way can cultural institutions reclaim their stake in the public sphere.

The conference will include lectures, conversations and debates that will involve theoreticians, scholars, experts, artists and practitioners: Boris Buden, Vesna Čopič, Branka ĆurčićSanja Iveković, Jim McGuigan, Suzana Milevska, Blaž Peršin, Mirko Petrić, Simon Sheikh, Miško Šuvaković, Andrea Zlatar Violić. A special focus of the conference will be exploration of practices in running the cultural infrastructure, with around 30 participating institutions and organizations. The conference will be held in English.

The conference is organized by Operation City and POGON – Zagreb Center for Independent Culture and Youth. The conference is part of the project “Open Institutions – New Meeting Points for Culture and Citizens” developed and implemented by three partners: Operation City (Zagreb), Asociacija (Ljubljana) and Kontrapunkt (Skopje).

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