A Letter from 2021

2021 is a year that will be remembered as a sort of ‘in between’ with a general feeling of impasse following us during this lapse of time. However, we have continued producing exhibitions and working with artists and we have been in close contact with other art and educational institutions. It’s part of the DNA of Index to work together with international structures. For example, in 2021 we co-produced a new version of the exhibition with Chris Kraus currently presented at Tabakalera (San Sebastian/Donostia). We have been talking a lot with Publics (Helsinki) and Praksis (Oslo) and shared many thoughts and actions regarding our Teen Advisory Boards and future practitioners. In fact, after many months of waiting, the youngsters at Index Teen Advisory Board went to Helsinki to meet the sibling TAB from Praksis to help in the definition of a new young advisory board for Publics. It’s fantastic to see how these youngsters help each other and can be—at the same time—extremely critical with societal matters.

At Index, we love to talk about the idea of the warm institution. We work closely with artists and visitors, and during pandemic times, it has been important to think what ‘close’ means. A warm institution is this organism that offers a dialogue for thinking together and it’s a structure which is inclusive. It’s a machine of feelings and emotions with a porous and flexible membrane. Yet, it’s still an institution with its own temporalities offering an image of stability when everything is in doubt.

We started the year at Index with Tracking Distribution. This exhibition has been a temporary platform after a very long process at Index thinking about distributional systems and ways of doing in art. Next year, we will continue this thinking strand thanks to the invitation from ARCO art fair in Madrid and their project, Office: Open for Discussion. After Tracking Distribution we presented an exhibition following the same conceptual strand, Editorial Thinking, showing works of artists and editorial structures connecting art and thought, text and writing, art and language. We are sure that it’s still possible to observe and analyze ways of doing in this field.

Two solo exhibitions were produced at Index in 2021 with artists Hanni Kamaly and Pauline Curnier Jardin. We have been working closely with both artists, talking about their practice, changing the way an institution works and thinking about temporalities, content, history, criticality, politics, identity and art. There is one thing we say at Index—we never stop working with the artists. Even after an exhibition ends, we will always continue working with them. This is a way to understand commitment and what the institutional should be; it is not just a production site to do one exhibition after the other, it is multiple time spectrums with visible moments and invisible ones.

2021 has been a time with many technological and distant contacts. We want to say thanks to the listeners of our podcast—we are still overwhelmed with the fact that we have doubled our listeners, but we also think that these experiences can’t be a substitute for meetings and sharing a space. In all their forms (physical and digital), we want to say thanks for your generosity sharing time with us. What we (institutions, artists, thinkers, users…) are doing altogether is not easy and it can’t be taken for granted.

We at Index take and assume our public responsibilities with care. We adore the dialogue around critique and content, we love complex situations observing the present, past and future. We see the need to include ecological thinking within institutional behavior (with materials, recycling, size, decision-making) and will continue working for a process related to art, identities and fluctuation.

Thanks again,

Marti Manen
Director, Index Foundation

Read previous letters here:
A letter from 2020
A letter from 2019