As self-declared Artists in Residence for the US Government, the Institute for Wishful Thinking (IWT) believes that the community of artists and designers possesses untapped creative and conceptual resources that could be applied to solving social problems. With this in mind we invite proposals from artists, architects and designers for residencies at government organizations and agencies at all levels. This website provides information about:

•How government policy is made.
•How interested applicants can use it to find an agency or organization to target with a proposal.
•How individual interests might intersect with specific policy issues.

Submitted proposals will be distributed widely. In addition to posting them on our website we will publish a book in which they are interspersed with transcriptions from the debates and discussions we will host at Momenta. The book will then be used to generate interest and funding for a pilot version of the project—placing artists in residence with the agency or department of their choice.

Our goal is to develop a new model of support for artists and designers by creating a structure in which they are paid to serve as consultants to policymakers, community leaders and elected officials. The project as well as the resulting publication aims to increase understanding of the art making process and how it can contribute to society as well as encourage policy makers and the general public to think of artists as potential partners in a variety of circumstances.

The IWT was founded in 2008 as an organization that works collaboratively with organizations to grant wishes that offer both practical assistance and possibilities for change. IWT’s experience has shown that a request for wishes allows an organization the space to fantasize about its potential while also providing an opportunity to address its most pressing needs. Since the IWT works with organizations, not individuals, wishes are always directed toward a specific organizational event, goal or challenge. IWT does their best to grant as many wishes as they can, sometimes literally, sometimes a symbolically or metaphorically. While their primary goal is to be of help, they also accept wishes that offer critique. Artists in Residence for the US Government (self declared) takes a slightly different tack: the IWT has imagined its own wishes.

Formed as a project for Art as Gift Periferic 8, Biennial of Contemporary Art, Iasi, Romainia, 2008, The Institute for Wishful Thinking has worked with a number of organizations and groups since then and in 2009 designed the winning proposal for a new building at 339 Lafayette Street, NYC. Known as the Peace Pentagon, it is headquarters for dozens of progressive organizations. Now in need of major repairs and renovation a call for proposals was issued which asked the question: how can a building mobilize for peace and justice? The IWT’s proposal repurposes an obsolete ocean liner, rescued from the ship breaking industry in Asia to serve as the new headquarters. It also mandates that Bangladeshi laborers, who will be taught the necessary skills by out of work shipbuilders from defunct American shipyards, perform the renovation and maintenance of the repurposed ship.