Between the Material and the Possible

I encountered Bassam El Baroni ‘properly’ (I had met him via Anne Szefer Karlsen before) when working on How Institutions Think. His essay was the last to come in, but certainly not the least interesting. Although late in the day in the process of production of the book, what really stood out was that while I was copy-editing his text, Bassam kept pushing things conceptually: as a result the HIT book now closes with a very sophisticated and well-considered essay on ‘The Post-Agonistic Institution’. So when Bassam approached me last year whether I was interested in working with him on a project I certainly was. It took about nine months for a proper outline to materialise (life, work, etc.), but the wait was worth it: we’re now working on an anthology titled Between the Material and the Possible, with as strapline Infrastructral Re-examination and Speculation in Art, which should come out in 2021.

A small excerpt from the outline below:

Skirting the confines of the art-specific relationality of Institutional Critique, ‘infrastructural critique’ is involved with the production of programmes, platforms, projects and proposals that may remain interested in, or, alternatively, are altogether ‘indifferent to pressing questions that pose themselves in and through the field of art’ (Vishmidt). By expanding the antennae to infrastructure at large, critique can move beyond the art-specific entities it focused on thus far. This expansion, which transcends the limits of the art institution and its issues, reflects a general sense of disintegration of what was once heavily theorised and conceptualised as ‘contemporary art’.  

The preliminary line-up of writers is wide-ranging, where some have been invited to contribute longer essays and others shorter texts. More names and details to follow when we’re a bit further down the line.

When I did an image search for ‘Infrastructural critique’ to add to this post, the below came up. A serendipitous result, which does not indicate what the book will be about, but most certainly provides connection points.

Panel discussion ‘Kunst als soziale Strategie in Organisationen’ [art as a social strategy within organisations], Museum Moderner Kunst, Palais Liechtenstein, Vienna, 1979, Courtesy Rolf Sachsse & Ros Sachsse-Schadt via

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