Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do you do at the Institute?

We wished we could tell you in one neat and tidy paragraph. We know what we do not do – we don’t run a gallery; we don’t manage a museum; we don’t oversee a library; we don’t even maintain a temple — although, we love and often enact some of the rituals, structures and methods that underlie those traditions. On a blackboard in the ICI laboratory we have charted are activities, the translation of which can be read in the organization’s annals.

2. When can I visit?

We are currently open to the public by appointment ONLY. To schedule a visit, please send a message with your name, contact information, availability and reason for or interest in visiting the Institute to

(See also the answer to Question #2 in our NAQ to learn more about a visit to the ICI.)

3. Do you accept proposals?

Yes, but we generally want more than a typical artist proposal. We consider all proposals but priority is given to proposals submitted through one of our official “calls.” Unsolicited proposals for projects and/or publications are considered on a case by case basis. Due to the high volume of inquiries, we cannot return unsolicited proposal materials.

4. How do you make money?

The ICI celebrates ideas over products, projects over programs. We believe art can and should exist without artworks. We reject the artist entrepreneur model favored by Europe and the United States and encourage new models for sustaining art practices. Over the last 15 years, we have harnessed passions and talents among a core group of Associates and a loose network of contributors through a series of LETS type systems. Over 50% of our budget is met through these alternative means.

At the same time, we believe all artists should be compensated for their activities not just for their products. We reject the argument that artist’s don’t have to be compensated for their processing time because they enjoy what they do. As such, we like to give real dollars to our artists and researchers and rely on the generosity of strangers to help meet this goal. We raise funds through our books, our membership, our passionate supporters and the generosity of public and private foundations. We also have a legendary yard sale once a year where we sell unusual contributions from our members and supporters.

5. What is cultural inquiry? We created a whole organization to answer that very loaded question. Our practice always begins by questioning the very terms we employ to frame our questions. We are interested in culture and especially visual culture, although we constantly question those terms.

We study the visual practices of culture-entities, particularly the processes these entities employ to describe, represent, motivate and assuage the members of that culture (generally human members but not always); in simple terms, we study how culture explains itself to itself through visual material (that includes text and elements that do not have to be experienced through vision). We use acts of inquiry – formal investigations guided by a series of questions – to further our goals, even though our investigations are somewhat unorthodox in their structure. We owe no allegiance to any one discipline. We borrow freely from science and art.

6. Why did you change your website?

We ask ourselves that question every single day. An account of the process can be read at our blog. A word of caution—given the long process of our “change,” any history must be considered apocrypha.

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