• The Doubting City: Artists and their search for forgotten places in Berlin

    By Christine Nippe (translated from German by Birgit Rathsmann)
    Published February 1, 2011

    Since German reunification, the capital Berlin has been in a permanent state of reconstruction that has not proceeded in nearly as linear a development as the continuously present cranes might imply. The city has become a place where many temporary occupations and empty spaces make the potential for new art-making practices in the urban realm possible. While comparing contemporary artists in New York and Berlin for my PhD research, I discovered the role that many artists play in re-imagining cities today. Inspired by urban anthropology and art history, my research has focused on the way in which artists conceptualize and represent “their” cities. Local conditions, myths and discourse as well as the global art world plot the coordinates that, I argue, define urban art practice: examining the idea of artists as activists through artists strategies and processes related to urbanity.

    Read full entry

  • Notes towards a Lexicon of Urgencies

    By Nancy Adajania & Ranjit Hoskote
    Published October 1, 2010

    To our generation of cultural producers, location has long ago liberated itself from geography. We map our location on a transregional lattice of shifting nodes representing intense occasions of collegiality, temporary platforms of convocation, and transcultural collaborations. As we move along the shifting nodes of this lattice, we produce outcomes along a scale of forms ranging across informal conversations, formal symposia, self-renewing caucuses, periodic publications, anthologies, traveling exhibitions, film festivals, biennials, residencies, and research projects. This global system of cultural production takes its cue from the laboratory: as in all laboratories, the emphasis is on experiment and its precipitates. However, to the extent that this system is relayed across a structure of global circulations, it also possesses a dimension of theatre: a rather large proportion of its activity is in the nature of rehearsal and restaging.

    In this DISPATCH, we would like to address the dilemmas as well as the potentialities of a mode of cultural production that is based on global circulations yet is not merely circulatory; and a mode of life that is based on transnational mobility but is not without anchorage in regional predicaments.

    Read full entry

  • Specters of San Francisco Magazines

    By Joseph del Pesco
    Published June 18, 2010

    Since the 1960s more than a dozen contemporary art magazines have circulated in the San Francisco Bay Area. A few have left but continued printing, but at present no printed periodical addressing contemporary art remains. There have been some gaps in coverage over the years, but looking back over the timeline, from the Sixties up to the present there’s always been at least one critical journal. This doesn’t, of course, mean they’ve been wildly successful or even widely distributed. This turn-over and transience is typical of the Bay Area, a place where new ideas are tolerated if not encouraged, and the persistent appearance of yet another new initiative means there’s always been an active scene here, if only just in the process of becoming. 

    Read full entry

  • Artists as Engineers in Vietnam

    By Zoe Butt
    Published April 1, 2010

    Can artists be successful in creating systems for contemporary art production and interpretation?

    Late last year, one of Vietnam’s pioneering artists, Vu Dan Tan, passed away at the age of 63. He was a wiry, grey bearded man who loved the feel of paper and performance. Known for his vigorous body acts with paint, Vu was a man who had traced the journey from Vietnam to Cuba by train and boat in 1973, stopping in Beijing and Russia – his feet never touching capitalist ground. From 1987-1990, Vu lived in Moscow, where he was exposed to the artistic freedoms enabled under Russia’s Perestroika (political and economic reforms). His memory was vivid of how much these journeys had compelled him to examine the notion of independent thinking in Communist Vietnam – thus he started Salon Natasha in 1990, Vietnam’s first independent art space, where he encouraged artists in Hanoi to gather, chat and exhibit their work. It is this idea of arrival and departure; of fleeing and returning, of choosing and creating that I shall focus on in this DISPATCH. It is a sensitive topic in Vietnam, tempered by the remnants of colonial structures of social and educational life; a history of perceived betrayal towards refugees who have returned and a growing young elite who have successfully sought a foreign education.


    Read full entry

  • Experimental pedagogy and art practice in Mexico

    By Sofía Olascoaga
    Published February 2, 2010

    This DISPATCH addresses the case of a growing scene at the intersection of education, pedagogy and art in Mexico.

    At this particular time there seems to be a collective, urgent demand for alternative strategies that provide new relationships of knowledge production and spaces for dialogue and encounter.

    In recent years, artist-led, self-organized, institutional and private educational initiatives in the contemporary art scene have opened up an active debate on the intersections of education and art. A number of artist-instigated educational projects have emerged, many of which are independently staged, while others are institutionally framed, and some privately funded.

    Within the contemporary art circuit, through many differences regarding perspectives, positions and objectives, universities, museums, and independent spaces in Mexico openly address questions and activate speculation on the relationship between education and art. As yet, there is no consensus on the concepts (and specific uses) of education and pedagogy, but proposals from artists and scholars test various ideas and approaches.

    This emerging movement is connected to broader phenomena of increasing attention to these themes in the international sphere. The Mexican cases share similar concerns to those being globally discussed, but they also embrace a contrasting complexity that comes from the particular conditions in which they exist.

    Read full entry


DISPATCH is ICI’s quarterly online journal that features a different curator’s points of view on current developments in art. Practitioners based in different cities around the world are invited to use DISPATCH as their virtual base, building their research over time through text, image, and video. Taking advantage of the interactive platform, DISPATCH will also allow for comments and feedback from readers around the world, allowing for the development of a dynamic curatorial network.