A letter from 2020

2020 has been, as we all know, challenging.

We had planned the year having some conceptual strands to work with, one of them being the idea of distribution. Suddenly Covid-19 changed everything and it was extremely clear that the discussion around distribution was more than pertinent.

We had decided to spread the work made at Index using other channels and temporalities – we love exhibitions but we do much more – always keeping the same attitude and curiosity towards art and contemporary culture: we started our series of podcasts and we have been investigating ways of working with learning and production of criticality while presenting artistic gazes. We at Index believe that is necessary to rethink constantly, testing formats and ideas, systems and collaborations, questioning what is established. During summer, Index was a learning site together with Konstfack and the course “Art & Distribution”. It was fantastic to see our institution with advanced art students, making use of the space and a prolonged time span.

And we decided to continue with everything. We understand that Index has a public responsibility towards the artistic ecosystem, we don’t want to see the artists stopped and not being paid because exhibitions are postponed, we don’t want to see the artists who help us installing exhibitions suddenly having no job, we want to keep talking and discussing future projects and we want to continue this dialogue with others when they visit Index. The number of visitors has decreased dramatically (not a surprise) but we know that for the ones visiting exhibitions and the few gatherings we were able to organize, it has been important: visitors have spent significant amounts of time at Index, we have observed a sort of new performativity linked to the fact that to visit an exhibition now is something special and unique, something to feel.

Covid-19 also affected Index’ festival. We had to move the dates to have some stability and we had a limited number of visitors. Now in December 2020 it seems almost surreal to think that we had 50 as the maximum number of people together for the festival (in previous years the festival has been a much more crowded situation). In the exhibition at Index right now (“Tracking Distribution”) we have a maximum of 8 people visiting at one time and we try to limit that number as much as possible. The design of the exhibition has also been made considering the virus; many things are different right now.

During 2020 we have continued with solo shows with women artists and a variability of backgrounds and generations: continuing from 2019 with Teresa Solar and then with Ramesch Daha, Nathalie Gabrielsson and Ulrika Sparre, we have presented amazing exhibitions observing structural, political, economic and ecological situations. From concentration camps to processes of liberalism, from industrial power to the need to listen to stones. All the exhibitions have had very specific displays (we develop exhibitions starting from artistic practices) but a hint of structural critique was floating in the air at Index throughout. Likewise, with our festival and the final exhibition of this year, “Tracking Distribution”, an exhibition that is research in process and a way to talk about distributional matters, including artists and artworks as discursive material. Index has continued supporting artists and their research through our Research Processes and during the whole year we have slowly been talking with Falke Pisano. ITAB (Index Teen Advisory Board) has seen similar new organizations appearing in other institutions (with more to come) and we have continued with the permanent dialogue with the Teen Advisory Board at Praksis in Oslo. It was beautiful to see young people sharing their feelings and ideas during this time of pandemic. Sometimes in the same space, sometimes digitally.

2020 has been a year with many ups and downs, an emotional rollercoaster and a time to discuss systemic structures and possible futures. We want to thank all of you for sharing this time with us, for being in (sometimes distant) contact. We truly believe that it is time to think together, to work for the now and the future, to observe the past and to formulate possibilities.

Thanks again for sharing your time with us,

Marti Manen
Director of Index Foundation