Intimate Bureaucracies

Workshop, organised by Lars Bang Larsen


Date: May 15 2008

Time: 10:00 am - 5:30 pm

Place: University of Copenhagen / Amager, room 27.1.49

Registration: Kirsten Zeuthen, by May 13.

Invited speakers:

Søren Andreasen, Jan Bäcklund, Jakob Jakobsen and Jørgen Michaelsen

Ina Blom

Mathias Kokholm

Jacob Lillemose

Craig Saper

This workshop seeks to discuss networked or group-based forms of art, and related strategies for infiltrating and taking over the means of art’s production and mediation.

During the last decade or so it has become a staple of contemporary art that artists produce work under collective or corporate identities. However already in the 1960s practitioners of Mail Art, Conceptual Art and Fluxus mimicked corporate and institutional structures or used the visuality of a mass bureaucratised culture (stamps, forms, diagrams, the academic textbook, etc.).

In his book Networked Art (2001), Craig Saper develops the term intimate bureaucracies to describe networked artistic strategies in which bureaucratic forms and types of organisation are used to open up a field across media. Thereby the art work is constituted in a social situation of many senders and receivers. The concept of the intimate bureaucracy thereby takes the idea of the network beyond the internet, but also departs from networking as a superficial and exclusive form of socialization. In terms of artistic results, the intimate bureaucracy often takes the form of secret codes, idiosyncratic works, and hermetic poetry that are shared in gift economies and through low-key media such as fanzines. In this way, the artistic network tends to become a conspiracy whose preferred mode of address is a form of narrowcast (rather than broadcast). This opens up to unheard-of symbolic systems in which the line between authoring and receiving is blurred in the transmission to many, minor audiences. In so doing, the intimate bureaucracy obviously undermines cultures of publicity and the way these calibrate experience to mass audiences.

Collective authorship in visual art is usually addressed in non-intimate terms: The artists group is explained by way of pop cultural ‘packaging’ (the rock band), or in terms of avant-garde myth with its ethos of mobilisation. The concept of intimate bureaucracies clearly makes for a different angle on this discussion, and at the same time articulates a critical ethos that differs from for example institutional critique and art activism.

The speakers of the workshop will cover themes and subjects ranging from the neo-avantgardes of the 1960s up to today’s Internet art and alternative publishing scene.