critics in residence: ica 2020

*Announcement* The White Pube 2 b critics in residence at Institute of Contemporary Art, [2020]

Since 2017, we’ve spent a lot of time thinkin about how to stabilise what we do as TWP. How to get paid for all the thinkin and writing and tbh curatorial support we end up offering institutions; how to solidify our position n our relationships w spaces we are working with closely etc etc. Gab’s critic-in-residency term with Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art produced some of our best-read texts at the time, and the texts she (and i) feel are the best she’s written. Not only that, but it was a moment of true critical support; both in material and immaterial ways (the v material utility of a wage for writing, the immaterial value of a peek into these spaces, seeing convos on the inside, and thinking about what MIMA were doing with a closeness that only a long-term, formalised relationship could offer). For us, it was developmentally important, not j for our words to be taken seriously enough for someone to !pay! for them, but to be given a full-scale view of the inner workings of a institution helped us to expand the way we think about art & its potential, its problems, and our potential to offer solutions or safety-nets.

We’ve worked with the ICA twice over 2018 - they commissioned us to write about Forensic Architecture’s show [link], and about their In Formation III program [link 1, 2, 3, 4]. Both times, we wrote tbh texts we are really proud of, but also texts that were so immediately and urgently useful to the ICA as they think through and reflect on the program itself. And we cannot understate the importance of that! Institutions are all too often not truly able to think through critically, reflect, or evaluate their output, it is often j on to the next. From Gab’s time at MIMA, we are able to see how useful and productive a critic-in-residence can be, how valuable it is to have someone both inside and outside, simultaneously; a dramaturg and a liminal adjudicator. From our proximity to the ICA w the commissions we did with them in 2018, we know they are actively trying to address both this need for reflection and critical evaluation of their output; for the ultimate purpose of trying to make themselves a Better Institution (for their visitors, the staff within, and the artists and creative labourers that move in n out). Like, what can an Institution be, in 2020. How can we re-model it n reshape it, not replicate and re-enact the structural violence and shitey-ness that all institutions seem to replicate & re-enact; but use the pre-existing structure as a shell to build around n do better, enact practices of care and action.

Over the course of a year, i’ll be writing 6 texts about their public facing program: could be an exhibition, talk, performance, etc. As always, there is the agreement & understanding that I can say what i like, be vocal about what i want to be vocal about, choose what I want to write about, and not be censored or edited. I will attend ~4 curatorial meetings (n have a nosy), and produce critical reflections on each of those meetings, to be distributed internally. i hope these will be accompanied by reflections from members of the curatorial team, and they will act as a jump-start to conversation. Hopefully, we can build on our shared aim of developing insight n better understanding the energies at play between artists, institutions, critics and audiences; that this understanding is able to be utilised in more than theory n hypothetical, but in action! I would like to see if a critic can help shape the organisational shifts they are keen to implement, i would like to feedback to them the criticism I and others have of their public facing program/shape organisation & structure; and offer solid ways to improve. Hopefully this will be useful and do-able, bc i’ll be a mole on the inside, able to understand where these things come from, and therefore, be better placed to both encapsulate the critical feedback & place it within the larger system @ work. I hope this will be a moment of radical shifting, that this year of criticism will mean the ICA is better equipped to produce thoughtful, urgently active output going forward. I am glad to be recompensed for my labour, and that tbh i’ll get a guarantee i’ll be heard! I am excited! to hold an institution as big as them to account, that they are willing enough to commit to entering into a conversation w us angry, loud girls. I am excited to see what our thoughts on institutional improvement look like both in practice & in theory through an institutional lens, to see how they improve and expand through this critical relationship w the ICA. I am looking forward to seeing inside the tent & being able to run out n tell u all what’s going on.

if u want to kno how much i'm being paid for this, as usual, pls check our accounts & it'll be there along w our other jobz