Never Asked Questions

1. Why do you do (what you do)?

The ICI is anchored by the belief that building worlds is a creative act. We understand art as a uniquely open field of possibilities inside society that can be used as a catalyst for imaginative speculation and as a stimulus for finding creative solutions to some of the most difficult challenges of our times. We believe we can cultivate informed visual thinking (not just visual consumption) among our contributors, our supporters and the visitors to our spaces by examining and understanding how vision has become and continues to be the dominant mediator in many of society’s most time-consuming interactions. Simply put, we believe artists and other visual researchers are an integral part of society. We offer the ICI to culture producers and their curious spectators because we believe artists can change the world not just bandage and placate it.

2. What constitutes a visit to the ICI?

We do not give docent tours.

A visit to the ICI is a discussion, an interaction, an event. An associate of the Institute is present to answer questions and guide you though our space. For this reason we ask all visitors to book their visit in advance. This reservation process does not exclude a quiet, meditative encounter. The degree to which any visitor interacts with the ICI representative is governed by that person’s own needs and desires. If you wish to interact with the space unattended, we are happy to stay in the shadows.

We do not give docent tours.

Most of our displays lack labels even though general themes may be apparent to certain populations. We use visits to explore multiple interpretations to our displays. To help aid in this process, the ICI offers you specially prepared study materials, reference books and audience feedback forms in addition to the knowledgeable ICI guide. We encourage viewer responses so that each visitor becomes a part of the ICI project on exhibit. Our intent is to open your eyes to the many treasures that are hidden in plain sight at our unusual space and to jumpstart ideas for your own projects and interests. A visit to the ICI is like a guided excavation, a true conversation wherein views and positions are constantly “turning around.”

We do not give docent tours.

3. Why is the typical artist proposal a “death-mask of its conception”?

As an organization, we are often put in the same position as a prospective ICI contributor. When we are asked to propose a project to a grant-giving foundation, we have seen how the enthusiasm and energy that propelled our ideas are extinguished by a system meant for building dams not for creating thought. In our experience, a typical artist proposal tells us little about processes and ideas and sometimes too much about a finished product.

A proposal to the ICI should include a summary of your research processes, a taxonomy of your “large picture” interests, your philosophy for living, researching, making. Tell us how these ideas mirror, engage or contribute to ICI interests. We don’t think your proposed Institute project should just represent your philosophy but it should somehow enact it. As such, your proposal should be a roadmap to enactment, not a blueprint for building an object or an exhibition.

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