Institute for Recurrent Progress
Institute For Recurrent Progress (IFRP), a collaborative project with the artist Ben Nicholson, took place over four months inside Chicago’s Open House Contemporary. Open House Contemporary is a gallery that functions both as an art space and a successful Airbnb. With the knowledge that small groups of guests would be immersed in the work for extended durations, Ben and I designed and installed paraphernalia that aligned with the missions of two competing institutions: the Institute for Recurrent Progress and another unnamed, hidden association. Upon entering the space, guests would immediately encounter a large sculpture of a heavy body splayed over the back of a bull. This form was derived from the biblical idea of the golden calf
(the insinuation being that it should be worshiped) and the sculptures of Fernando Botero, who maintained that ‘art should be an oasis, a place of refuge from the hardness of life.’ The Bare Bull and Babe, or Barebnb, was the centerpiece for the Institute for Recurrent Progress’ effort to recruit visitors into its ranks, whose membership requires the recurrent giving-of-money to support the Institute in the furthering of its mission to acquire money.
Shown with the bull were 4 pamphlets that laid out not only how to function inside the space but also what the Institute was and how to align with their will. To allow for guests to communicate with the Institute we constructed a keyboard terminal built into the same field of vision as the master bedrooms television. The terminal ran 24 hours and gave guests a direct line to the artists who posed as a naive but greedy organization bent on the sale and fostering of love for art. In the adjoining room a less grandiose second terminal was made and ran on the same timeline but linked viewers to a covert association that meant to obscure and thwart the immediacy of the arts understanding. Hidden around the apartment in redacted texts and ciphers this association was created to question the commerce of art and its seemingly indisputable cultural value.