Periferic 8 – Art as Gift Biennial for Contemporary Art
3-18 October 2008
Curated by Dora Hegyi (project leader of tranzit. hu/ Budapest, Hungary)
Organized by the Vector Association (Iasi/Romania)
Our Proposal for Periferic 8, Iasi, Romania: “Wishful Thinking”:
Periferic 8 adopted an ambitiously self-critical approach to the now well-established view that international biennials contribute significantly to the meaning and value of the work they support. As with most large international exhibitions, however, the work of the support staff, which worked long hours for low pay, was not to be factored in as part of the value thus created, despite the fact that their efforts were essential to the completion of the work exhibited.
To address this perennial oversight “Wishful Thinking” made the needs and desires of the Periferic 8 staff our primary concern. We began by offering each member of the staff three wishes. The stipulation was that whatever they wished for must be something they believed would help them perform their jobs better and achieve the exhibition’s full potential, but that they would not expect to otherwise receive. To give some examples of categories they might consider for their wishes we suggested practical items that could benefit the entire staff like extra mobile phones or printers, or additional labor to help artists and curators. We also suggested wishes that addressed the psychological or the sensory such as stylish new clothing for the opening or home cooked meals to be served during the last few days of installation. We also wanted to address individual wishes such as the need for childcare. We encouraged a broad range of wishes—anything from the most basic to the totally outrageous– as long as they somehow met the above requirements.
As we began to receive the wishes the Wishful Thinking team held brainstorming sessions to determine how to satisfy as many of these as possible. We decided that a public discussion of the methods used by the Institute for Wishful Thinking would further expose the audiences of Periferic 8 to the broad range of skill, talent and hard work required of those who labor behind the scenes to put exhibitions together. Thus, although “Wishful Thinking” was primarily meant to offer services to staff and become a kind of experiment in how workplace dynamics and employee satisfaction can give additional value and meaning to art it also provides an opportunity to develop more transparent, less mystified relationships with an exhibition’s public.
The Institute For Wishful Thinking, a collaborative project for the Periferic 8 Biennial was partially funded by an emergency grant awarded from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York and the Queens College Office for Institutional Advancement.