The Institute for Social Research and the Discovery of Art God started as a pedagogical experiment between California College of the Arts students and learners from the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart, Germany, to make art while living in a self-organized commune.
The Institute for Social Research (ISR) emerged from the experiment and the result is a collection of mixed-media works: films, altars, songs, performances, truth-tellings, Art God, an idol to which to pray and ask guidance—even a sofa-Jacuzzi—all of which are currently on exhibit at the Richmond Art Center in Richmond, California, through July 26, 2008.
Artist and CCA Graduate Fine Arts Chair Brian Conley and Berlin-based, teacher-artist (and recent CCA visiting artist) Christian Jankowski initiated the collaborative exhibition by offering a for-credit class, simply titled Commune, that was based on the experience of self-organization, self-agency, and experience in an intensive laboratory-style learning environment.
The students rented a communal house between August and December in 2007 in San Francisco's Ocean Beach neighborhood in which to live and work, without set parameters for their creations. Christian Jankowski loosely supervised the group, often from overseas, offering little direction or discipline. The goal was for students to create art for the exhibition and academic advancement.
Curator and CCA alumna Erin Elder (Curatorial Practice 2007) discusses how Art God materialized: "Participating artist Byung-Chul introduced prayers to the ISR's daily regimen, asking for guidance, support, and authenticity from something called Art God. The group joined him in these strange rituals and within very little time Art God became part of the group's regular vocabulary, showing up in collaborative artworks, conversation, and even public events."
Elder's essay, "793 Possibilities and How to Make Sense of it?," is featured in the exhibition's 450-page catalogue, as are essays by Conley and Jankowski.
The ISR is planning a second exhibition at the Württembergischer Kunstverin near Stuttgart that opens in August 2008.
For more information and a complete list of ISR participating artists, visit the Richmond Art Center website.
The Richmond Art Center
2540 Bartlett Avenue
Richmond, CA 94804
THIS PROJECT IS KINDLY SUPPORTED BY:
Ministry for Science, Research and Art, Baden-Württemberg
Rectorship of the State Academy of Fine Arts, Stuttgart
Friends of the State Academy of Fine Arts, Stuttgart
DAAD German Academic Exchange Service
California College of the Arts, San Francisco
Staatlichen Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart
Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart
The Richmond Art Center
The German Consulate of San Francisco
Lobot Gallery, Oakland