Reflecting & transforming: Casco on 2023

This year marked significant changes for Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons.

Arts Collaboratory became more embedded in the organization through the ecosystemic shift we underwent. As a result of this shift, in September 2023, we welcomed Aline Hernández, a member of Arts Collaboratory through Mexico-base cooperative Cráter Invertido, and Marianna Takou, long-time worker of Casco Art Institute, in their new roles of Artistic Director and Executive Director, respectively, reshaping the leadership over the daily maintenance of Casco’s team. A newly formed cooperative team composed of ecosystem members also joined us, with whom we remain grateful for their trust and generous support during the process. A newly formed cooperative team composed of ecosystem members also joined us, with whom we remain grateful for their trust and generous support during the process. This formation includes our former director Binna Choi, who paved the way for us with her energy and dedication during her fifteen-years lead of Casco.

This shift is part of a larger constellation of similar ecosystem-driven transformations catalyzed through membership to Arts Collaboratory. As former Casco curator Jason Waite notes in a recently published article in ArtReview, we have seen how “the effects of the experience in Arts Collaboratory reach beyond its member institutions” over the last years. Ashkal Alwan’s director Christine Tohmé, for example, conceived of a decentralized Sharjah Biennial 13 that included Dakar, Ramallah, and Beirut, as well as several AC members, gesturing towards the translocal collaboration practice that lies at the heart of the network. In a similar vein, ruangrupa was appointed as curator of the 15th edition of documenta, which included the participation of several Arts Collaboratory organizations such as Centre D’Art Waza and Más Arte Más Acción and even Arts Collaboratory itself as an entity, bringing along other members including Cráter Invertido, Lugar a Dudas, and KUNCI Study Forum & Collective. For their part, curator Koyo Kouoh, who was the director of Raw Material Company, became the founding director of Zeitz MOCAA, the first museum of contemporary art in Southern Africa, and, Marie Hélène Pereira, who followed her as director of Raw, is now senior curator of performance practice at HKW.

More recently, our membership to Arts Collaboratory also sparked a series of other translocal collaborations now in the context of the Netherlands, with Casco co-hosting Arts Collaboratory Annual Assembly (13–23 November) together with fellow member DOEN Foundation. For the occasion, we were joined by lumbung and L’Internationale members, as well as by MAFA HKU in Utrecht, Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, and de Appel, Framer Framed, and Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.

The Assembly was pivotal to rethinking Casco as deeply interwoven and interlinked with the network, and reconsidering our role and responsibility as one of the few members in the global north. Deeply saddened by the absence of our Arts Collaboratory members RIWAQ and Al Ma’mal due to the ongoing escalation of violence in Gaza and the West Bank, it was also an urgent reminder of what art can offer for walking towards radical alternative presents and how we can best embody our ethical practices of solidarity as an arts organization. We remain grateful for everyone who has been part of these processes of dreaming, plotting, and organizing with us.

We look forward to being in touch with you in the new year and continuing to practice arts together!

In hope,
Aline, Erik, Jip, Leana, Luke, and Marianna

Among a large array of public activities this year, Casco Art Institute featured two notable exhibitions. Nina bell F. House Museum exhibition, launched in May, reflected on the importance of archives for feminist institutional change. First initiated at Singapore Biennale 2022, it unfolded with various events throughout the year, highlighting our ecosystem and artists and scholars such as Annette Krauss, Christian Nyampeta, and Donghwan Kam amongst others. Read about it on the Metropolis M website. In Autumn, we presented the exhibition If we remain silent, by artist Ana Bravo Pérez and curator Joram Kraaijeveld. It featured tactile and political artworks resulting from a long-term project by the artist researching the possibility of developing a feminist, decolonial anti-monument to commemorate women social leaders on the frontlines of the climate crisis in Abya Yala. Read about it as well on the Metropolis M website.

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