I is for Institute: An ICA Podcast

What’s in a name? What does institutional care look like? How do institutions hold and withhold stories and shape the stories we tell? These questions and others are at the center of I is for Institute, a new podcast from the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania. Each episode illuminates the challenges and opportunities within arts organizations while emphasizing ways in which each responds to the seismic cultural shifts of our moment—from urgent calls for racial justice and equity to the possibilities for decolonization and increased accessibility within arts institutions.

Connecting arts leaders locally and from around the world, I is for Institute investigates and reimagines the role of arts organizations today. Guests include: Sepake Angiama, Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts), London; Lulani Arquette, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) and Flint Jamison, Yale Union, Portland; Linda Goode Bryant, Project EATS, New York; Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Kunstinstituut Melly, Rotterdam; and Ken Lum and Paul Farber, Monument Lab, Philadelphia, among others.

The podcast functions as a continuation of the concepts explored in I is for Institute, a project that began in 2016 which currently catalogs over 50 conversations to date, and the upcoming RAW Académie, Session 9: Infrastructure, an exhibition and experimental study program taking place at ICA in March 2022 under the artistic direction of Linda Goode Bryant in collaboration with RAW Material Company. What initially began as a self-reflexive project and the need to think critically about ICA’s own trajectory and internal structures soon turned to face outward. I is for Institute is a collaborative project that focuses on the many individuals who are working to reimagine the structure of arts institutions. Above all, the “I” in I is for Institute acknowledges that institutions are composed of people and rooted in places.

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OUR INAUGURAL EPISODE focuses on process with Sepake Angiama, Artistic Director of Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts), London, and Gee Wesley, ICA Spiegel-Wilks Curatorial Fellow (2014 – 2017). Angiama draws on her background as a curator and educator to reflect on the shifting definition of the global and how contemporary art institutions can play a role in reorienting the ways that knowledge is produced and how learning occurs.

EPISODE TWO features Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Director of the Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam for a discussion on the importance of language for inclusivity, and the internal decision process and external pressures that led to the renaming of the organization formerly known as the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art to Kunstinstituut Melly.

EPISODE THREE features guests Lulani Arquette, President and CEO of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF), and Flint Jamison, a co-founder and Board Chair of Yale Union (a non-profit contemporary art center).

EPISODE FOUR finds Alex Klein, ICA’s Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber CHE ’60 curator, joined by James E. Britt Jr., former DAJ Director of Public Engagement at ICA, in conversation with Ken Lum and Paul M. Farber, about their work with and experiences co-founding Monument Lab–an organization based in Philadelphia that seeks to shine light on and destabilize the systems of power embedded within our monument landscape.

EPISODE FIVE commemorates the 50th anniversaries of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) and The Kitchen, as Rebecca Cleman, EAI’s Executive Director, and Alison Burstein, Curator at The Kitchen, reflect on their shared organizational histories in this live recorded event (at The Kitchen in May 2022) to celebrate the launch of the publication Broadcasting: EAI at ICA. They discuss an alternative arts ecology and how it informs their institutional roles in the present. Moderated by Alex Klein, Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE’60) Curator at ICA.

EPISODE SIX features Mari Spirito, Executive Director, and Curator of Protocinema, a self-described ambulatory and cross-cultural art organization that commissions and presents site-aware art around the world, discusses the complexities of working across geographies and ruminates on the importance of relationship building in the creation of alternative art ecosystems. Co-hosted by Alex Klein, Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE ’60) Senior Curator and Pelle Tracey, ICA Curatorial Intern and doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan.

EPISODE SEVEN (SERIES FINALE) rounds out the series with a reunion between Linda Goode Bryant, Marielle Ingram, Marie Hélène Pereira, and podcast host Alex Klein about their institutional collaboration Raw Académie at ICA: Infrastructure that took place at ICA in Spring 2022. Hear about what they learned through the experience, from the successes and challenges of relocating the Académie from Dakar to Philadelphia, to their thoughts on how contemporary arts organizations can be reimagined.

The podcast is organized by Alex Klein, Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE’60) Curator in collaboration with James E. Britt Jr., former DAJ Director of Public Engagement; Derek Rigby, Audio/Visual Coordinator; Natalie Sandstrom, former Program Coordinator; Jill Katz, Director of Marketing & Communications; Ali Mohsen, Digital Content Editor; and Tausif Noor and Gee Wesley, former Spiegel-Wilks Curatorial Fellows. Music provided by Jason Moran. An archive of previous conversations can be accessed as free, print-on-demand PDFs on iisforinstitute.icaphila.org.