Institute for Provocation (IFP) in 2017 launches the long term research-based and curatorial project “TETRIS”, that in the upcoming one to two years, will generate inter-provocative networks and working methodologies via cooperation and joint action between curators, artists, researchers, scholars and IFP’s residence artists. On the one hand, from the point of view of the institutional practice, IFP will develop research projects on different subjects, in the form of writing, curating, publishing and symposiums; on the other hand, IFP initiatively exchanges these projects with its residence artists and curators, regarding the crossings and impacts as possibilities of co-structuring our networks. The lectures, discussions and exhibitions of related documents, images and objects will mainly be presented at Black Sesame Space, IFP studio and its outdoor space, however, the projects are also geographically in a condition of uninterrupted extension and fluidity.


The problem that contemporary art practice faces at present is the consequence of propagation effects unprecedentedly expanding on a global scale, which makes us feel that every issue is susceptible to becoming a matter of urgency. Correspondingly, it seems that every social practice has been captured by this urgency and shaped as one of the possible solutions. From anti-war to anti-globalization to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Central, etc., all these conflicts between the global and the local have involved the fetishization of local spaces, immediate actions and transient gestures, and never gained the real rights and benefits which could solve the underlying problems. Have these political forms also gradually turned into a choice of building “bunkers” for oneself in order to resist the crisis of global neoliberalism? Therefore, our work should relook upon the relationship between “globalized knowledge” and “bodily experience”, but not by returning to the simplified opposition between “the global” and “the local”.


From a perspective that venerates technological innovation and unchangeable “political correction”, modernity has been seen as a continuous economic growth. However, in this technological era, most people still adhere to obsolete social and working relationships. We may need to heed those who have faint political voices and listen to those who are not characterized as having been marginalized or oppressed by the elites and ruling class. The faintest political powers today are exactly the ones resisting this teleology-driven ideology. How to take back a “controlled future” and to foster a historical narrative beyond one offered by the capitalistic system? And how can we extend the space of thinking and practicing?     


The project “TETRIS” is also about how we got here, the present, and what gesture we make in confronting the unpredictable future. It explores the structuring and de-structuring of political circumstances and political imagination concerning the multitude in different periods of technical transformation and social contexts. We will research, present and discuss topics concerning economic-political issues, such as, “work and production”, “the individual and the ideology of social subjectivity”, “resource and geopolitics”, which arise in the transition from socialistic collective production to a contemporary global neoliberalism-driven economic model, and from traditional industries (material production) to emerging industries (immaterial production). This is not only to comb a certain period of history, but also to present the “econotopia” - a mixture of “economy” and Foucault's term “heterotopia”, within which he draws worlds within worlds, mirroring and yet upsetting what is outside - produced under the embrace of an inadequate modernity and a kind of heterogeneous contemporarity. This heterogeneity is apparent in the situation of those living in non-hegemonic conditions, the current state of the space and the event which function outside of their usual rules, and also in the interweaving between information, technology and bodies at work in a multi-layered space. It drifts in-between the real and the fictional generating an animated illusion, while simultaneously displaying the insufficiency of economic-political development.   


Interestingly, in urban agglomerations with concentrated natural resources, but faced with the dilemmas of industrial transformation, as well as in urban spaces in which new waves of capitalistic technological innovations and digital productions are taking place, the mixture between the unfinished modernization and contemporary characteristics produces a sort of infatuation for the “econotopia”. We believe that this phenomenon could be outlined by analyzing the key words “motivation” and “control”. What could be the motivation of production be? Maybe, the resources, technology, or certain economic-political prospects and an imagined future of humans themselves. As molecular parts of the society, how are we shaped and controlled by the operations of its systematic, normative mechanisms? How is the human bodily experience mediated by technology? And in what way does this intangible information and data affect human living conditions?     


“TETRIS” is a metaphor of IFP’s approach in 2017 – we would like to negate the inertial cognition cultivated by the systems of power and the conventional order, and to establish a connection between different practitioners via the concept of negation. After reducing the “prevalent inertial cognition”, the remains have to be reformed again and again. It is from here that we draw our title: a perpetual attempt to find multifarious possible connections between the individual elements - the same is erased and the remains are constantly altering their shapes and structures… Therefore, within this process, there will be no pure individual and no disciplined collective. It becomes an endless expanding organic interaction amongst individuals.    





“TETRIS” does not aim to research a specific locality, to discover hidden histories, nor does it consider the artist as an ethnographer. Rather, the project is like an organism for traveling at the speed of the thought exchanges, not limited by geographic space.


In 2017, we will unfold a series of continuous and extensible artistic research and curating projects around this metaphoric figure, including collective writing, film screening, artwork making, performing, symposium, material collecting etc. How can we understand, by looking backwards, the implications on a global scale of the current production structure and cultural transformation? And what is the relationship between value creation and faint political power? Of course, this issue is closely linked to the contemporary art field. How are artists able to imagine a possible “exit” via their speculations based on the present reality? How do independent artists and alternative spaces alter our way of participating in the cultural production, distribution and collaboration processes? And in what way does geopolitics influence contemporary art practice and exhibition making in the era of globalization? “TETRIS” is a process-driven project. Therefore, we propose collective writing as our primary research tool (involving scholars, researchers, artists, curators, social practitioners, etc.), and use theory fiction as a form of assembling all the materials into a publication. Theory fiction is not only a means to allude to both past and present sociopolitical situations, but is also an efficient way of dealing with reality, fiction and imagination, and it provides space for artistic thinking. These words will be given re-productivity as well, namely as a script or proposal, offering a database and theory framework for more concrete artistic production and practice in the following steps.

Open call for participation:

Accroding to the project of TETRIS, IFP also announces an open call for artists, curators and scholars who are interested in taking part in this long-term research project. We will review the application shortly and inform the candidate/s in two to three weeks. For more information please click here and remark "TETRIS".







项目“不周山”也是在思辨我们是如何抵达当前的,以及以何种姿态去面对不可知的未来。它探索在不同社会环境和技术转型期对诸众的政治想象和状态的结构和解构。从特定时期的社会主义集体生产到当下全球新自由主义主导的经济模式以及传统工业(物质化生产)向新兴产业(非物质化生产)的过渡中对所出现的“劳动和生产”、“个人和社会主体意识形态”、“资源和地缘政治”等经济政治问题进行研究、呈现与讨论。这不仅是对历史的梳理,更展现出在不充分的现代性和一种异质的当代性拥抱下所形成的蓬勃发展的“经济异托邦” 。这种“异质”表现在相异于遵循自发规律运转、处于非支配处境下的人、事件和空间的现存状态,工作中的身体在多层空间中与技术和信息的交叉和延伸。它游荡于现实与虚幻两点之间既产生“新生”的幻象也凸显出政治经济发展的不充分性。




“不周山”是对激发研究所2017年工作方法的隐喻——我们希望能通过共同对权力和秩序所驯化的惯性认知进行否定,通过否定性来建立实践者之间人的连接。在去除掉“普遍的惯性认知”之后,对残余之物一次次地进行排列重组的尝试。这样一种工作方法,很像游戏:个体之间在不断调试相互之间的组合方式 - 共同的部分会被消除,残留下有空余的地方,不断堆叠,变换着一座一座的山型……这个时候已经没有纯然的个体,也没有规训之后的集体,而是一种可以在个体之间无限延伸的、有机互动的过程。










根据“不周山”项目的阐述,激发研究所也向对此长期项目感兴趣的艺术家、策展人以及研究者开放驻地申请。在提交方案后,我们会尽快对方案进行审议,筛选并在两到三周的时间里答复候选人。更多信息请点击这里 并标注“不周山”。


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Institute for Provocation

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