Utopian Institutions is a survey that was conducted for the first time as part of the exhibition »Mit Glück hat es nichts zu tun« 2022 at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart.
The survey is initially based on my own experiences as an artist in regard to working conditions, equality, »diversity« and accessibility when working with art institutions. My particular interest is initially focused on the association structure, as this offers a democratic basis through membership. In contrast to other institutional structures, the members here are basically empowered to make changes to the statutes and to introduce motions. The possibilities for co-determination are either regulated in the association’s own statutes, or otherwise by the law on associations.
Against this background, the survey is addressed to all members, the board, the advisory board, the artistic direction and all employees of the institution. All are invited to participate via a one-time code. The survey is based on the assumption that it is ultimately people who make an institution–and not structures that are unchangeable.
For each question, participants are provided with several answer options from which they can choose one. The majorities ultimately generate a result text about the institution.
To be precise, this text reflects the status quo and the race-related, gender-related, class-related consciousness that currently constitutes the institution in question. But the survey is not a scientific-sociological demographic study–rather, the questions are formulated in my own voice, from a position of questioning that is deeply personal and interpersonal.
Provocative, tendentious, contradictory, limited and influenced by my own experience. At the same time, asking questions, engaging in questioning and answering them, are conceived as equal elements in a critical engagement with art institutions.
This new version of the survey includes the questions of other artists, among them Yara Richter, Jazmina Figueroa, André Mulzer, Nikola Hartl, Lizza May David, who were invited to contribute their experiences and voices. Equally important for the development of the questionnaire, the possible answers and the text fragments is the feedback from the institution and the participants.
The survey and the database with the survey results will be maintained indefinitely as an openly accessible online platform and remain open to other institutions as well as artists for consultation.