Initiative and Institution

An exhibition, a series of talks and events, a symposium, a publication. Organised by Celine Condorelli (support structure) and Andreas Lang (public works).

Department of Architecture and Spatial Design,
London Metropolitan University, 07.02.08 to 31.03.08
Symposium 07 and 08.03.08


Initiatives rely on action, and a readiness to embark on bold new ventures; their language is one of spontaneity and temporariness, enthusiasm and emancipation. Creative initiatives sometimes strive towards institutionalization and therefore the crossing of boundaries towards an appearance of continuity and permanence. What constitutes the shift between initiative and institution? How does and why should an initiative become an institution? And in turn how can institutions nurture and support initiatives?
 Initiative & Institution is a conference as publication, a series of events as exhibition, about the creation, implications and possibilities of self-initiated social and spatial projects.

‘Initiative and Institution’ seeks to negotiate the possibilities of the spatial/architectural/artistic endeavor as a political positioning. Grounded in self-organization, initiatives offer alternatives to predominant models of art or architecture as service, allowing ways of imagining the transformations of context, the organization of emergent social arrangements and the construction of new institutional forms.

The series will investigate potential directions and methodologies for action, by discussing different histories of knowledge, means and reference projects, discussions and failures.

‘Initiative and Institution’ is organised by Celine Condorelli (support structure) and Andreas Lang (public works) with Antonia Halse, and hosted with/by London Metropolitan University; a publication will be used as archive and manual for the event series and conference, and will be compiled in parallel to the events as an open process in the gallery. All the events and the symposium are intended to be discursive and to include work in progress; they will be relatively informal and do not have keynotes or conference dinners.

‘Initiative & Institution’
 will explore a number of issues and areas:

Desire and motivation:
What is the motivation for self-organized politically engaged projects? What is the set-up needed for engaging or starting to engage in such processes? Who are the actors in the setting up of incentives, and how are strategic implementations designed? Are they works in themselves?

Emancipation and dependency:
Can initiatives only be created outside the institutions that shape our environment? Are these models emancipatory? Culture, politics and economy can be both tool and content, object and site of artistic practice. They are creative and interpretive practices; a production which takes the form, among others, of negotiated relations between discourses and practices, between politics and culture.

Production and temporariness:
How do we set up productive models for a shared authorship of the environment without undermining the potential of expertise? how can we imagine implementing participatory models beyond private space towards the public sphere? which systems can we imagine to allow a decision making process which more directly or comprehensibly would affect the public sphere through local public incentive?

Blindness and process:
the nature of participatory process means that their qualities are largely invisible, or do not manifest themselves as only physical, for example they are not embodied by a building alone. How can we recognize them and evaluate them, what are the means to assess their success or process?
 Negotiation and fragility:
an initiative allows the posing, exposing and revising questions in relationship to its context and how to operate within it.


All initiative & institution events take place at:

The Gallery,
Department of Architecture and Spatial Design,
London Metropolitan University,
Spring House 40 – 44 Holloway rd
London N7 8JL

For directions click here

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