What is internationalism as a set of practices in relation to contemporary art? If globalisation has produced a paradigm shift in the way that artists and institutions work, how should we position ourselves within what is now perceived as a global art world? In particular how to de-align from market-driven forces of mobility, productivity and circulation or the continuing bureaucratization of art and look instead to the connections forged by artists through imperatives such as political consciousness, curiosity, or friendship?
Practice International collaborates with a range of artists who establish structures and invent methods to make work, radicalize their immediate locality, and connect internationally. Such practices challenge the idea of the contemporary artist as an “international subject,” easily able to represent and translate culture for a global audience, which has come to replace earlier strategies of postcolonial discourse. While the examples we have chosen might be particular to a place and set of relations, they nevertheless create an international axis: a poetic connection, say, that links a house, enclave, or courtyard to the wider world, or a set of shared concerns over gentrification, feminism, ecology, or colonial legacy, which can establish solidarity with an “elsewhere.” The project also considers a continuity of practice, looking at case studies from the past such as the Mondrian Fan Club invented by artists David Medalla and Adam Nankervis, the Senegalese collective Laboratoire Agit/Art through the work of artist Issa Samb, and the cosmopolitan projects of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore.
Practice International is an initiative of Casco (Utrecht), Iaspis (Stockholm), and Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts, London); three European arts organisations that are concerned with internationalism, collaborating with non-European institutions such as the Raw Material Company (Dakar). The project aims to reflect on our positions as artists, curators and institutions, to think how we can embody and meet new forms of practice involving agents of social change, introduce new terms into the discourse, and question institutional habits. Here, collaborating artists will play the role of hosts, conversation partners and provocateurs, as well as document proceedings and produce new work. A period of public and non-public research including workshops, seminars, and field trips will be followed by exhibitions and varied publishing outputs.
In November Practice International will convene its first public discussion with an assembly in Stockholm that gathers together most of the project’s participants and serves as an introduction to their different positions; using formats such as workshops, lectures, and performances. The full timetable will be announced on the websites of Practice International and participating institutions from October.
Practice International is initiated by Lisa Rosendahl, Binna Choi, and Grant Watson and financially supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union.
The project room, Iaspis, Maria Skolgata 83, Stockholm, Sweden