Foto: Jero van Nieuwkoop

Para-Institutions Pannel 2018

Para-Institutions. Beside and Beyond the Museum, the University

A panel at the Symposium „AUTONOMY“ at the Kunsthochschule Kassel Lecture by Christopher Wessels, Museum of Impossible Forms Helsinki Discussion with Elena Agudio, SAVVY Contemporary Berlin
Moderation: Nora Sternfeld, documenta Professor, Kunsthochschule Kassel

In recent years many artists have declared their work as a “museum”. We can call these practices of claiming museums as “para- museums”. They appropriate the institution as institution using its own resources. Insofar they are simultaneously entirely part of the institution and of another order that may have only just begun to dawn. This complicated relationship — neither against the institution nor entirely defined by it — is described by the Greek pre x ‘para’. παρά means both beside and beyond. In Greek it is still about divergence and not about polarity (nonetheless, this is the pre x that becomes ‘contra’ in Latin). The para–institution is thus not an anti–institution. It does not repudiate the institution, rather it refuses the refusal (that the world may have ascribed to it).

With the Museum of Impossible Forms Helsinki and SAVVY Contemporary Berlin we will encounter two para-institutions: Laboratories aiming to share ideas that might not exist yet, places where we could learn together what we don’t know yet. What does all this mean in relation to the university and to the Kunsthochschule? How to claim autonomy and how to relate to the university today? Is there an agency of German way of the „Kunsthochschule“ as a para-institution, claiming autonomy, insisting in the freedom of art, refusing the economisation and modularisation of education?

Museum of Impossible Forms is a cultural centre located in the first floor of a shopping mall in Kontula – a quarter in the East of Helsinki. The space facilitates the process of transgressing boundaries/borders between art, politics, practice, theory, the artist and the spectator.The Museum of Impossible Forms is a space in ux, a platform for experiences and a laboratory of thought. The core of the space is a library and an archive real, imagined and embodied.

As an art space, discursive platform, eating and drinking spot, njangi house, space for conviviality SAVVY Contemporary situates itself
at the threshold of notions and constructs of the West and non-West, primarily to understand and negotiate between, and obviously
to deconstruct the ideologies and connotations eminent to such constructs. For this, it seems appropriate to invoke, convoke or deploy the “cosmogenic powers” of artists and artistic practice to guide us. On this journey SAVVY Contemporary engages in what Paget Henry would call the “poetic power of artistic practice” to “un-name and re-name, to de-institute old selves and establish new ones, and to silence imposed voices and reclaim lost ones” in an effort to resolve the “crisis of entrapment.”