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International Call for Fellows

Through an International Open Call for Research Fellows, Het Nieuwe Instituut invited practitioners and researchers in the fields of architecture, design, and digital culture to work in residence from June to December 2016. Applicants have been asked to submit an independent research proposal that illuminates their own approach to research, including specific and unconventional methodologies. In particular, they have been encouraged to challenge how research is conducted within an institutional context, pursuing alternatives to the expectation of predetermined outcomes, the use of official jargon, and the inertia power of the curriculum vitae.

The fellowship is a 6-month position that entails individual work, collaborative work with other fellows, interaction with the Research & Development department, and collaborations with external partners. Fellows have access to the facilities of Het Nieuwe Instituut, including the reading room, archives, public spaces, and presentation rooms. In the long term, the program is also intended to complement, reflect on, interact with, and critique the ongoing activities of the institute.

Between the announcement of the open call on 15 February 2016 and the deadline of 28 March 2016, Het Nieuwe Instituut received 243 entries in response to the international call for fellows. Proposals came from India, South Africa, Belarus, Ireland, Chile, Spain, Italy, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and many other countries. Topics varied from automation to experimental theatre, oral histories of architectural models, dance in institutional spaces, projects on mandatory positivity, technologies of warning and civic alarm, and artificial intelligence.

Each entry was submitted in line with the requirements, and was accepted for consideration by the Research and Development team at Het Nieuwe Instituut (Marten Kuijpers, Landscape and Interior; Tamar Shafrir, Things and Materials; Katía Truijen and Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Digital Culture), who made a preselection of 35 projects from the total 243 submissions that best exemplified the criteria announced in the terms of the call.

Both the pre-selected proposals and the entire application set were made available to a jury comprised of Tom Avermaete (professor of Architecture, Delft University of Technology), Guus Beumer (director, Het Nieuwe Instituut), Anselm Franke (curator, Haus der Kulturen der Welt), Vinca Kruk (designer/artist, Metahaven), Marina Otero Verzier (head of research & development, Het Nieuwe Instituut) and Jana Scholze (associate professor, Curating Contemporary Design at Kingston University). The jury was asked to read all 35 pre-selected proposals and invited to nominate any other projects for inclusion—an opportunity of which they indeed made use.

The jury meeting was held on 12 April 2016 in Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. Proposals were evaluated on the basis of idiosyncrasy of subject and methodology, depth of investigation, connection to Het Nieuwe Instituut’s mission, potential to cross disciplinary boundaries, and potential for exchange and collaboration between fellows. During the preselection and the selection process, Het Nieuwe Instituut’s team members and jurors abstained from voting on proposals by individuals or groups with which they are affiliated or have a conflict of interest. The jury’s decision and the report was published and presented on 28 April 2016.

Alchemic Dialogue by Füsun Türetken

“Based on the concept of panmetallism by Deleuze and Guattari, this research formulates a critique on capital and conflict through materials, more precisely metal. It includes an analysis of key marketplace forums, like Wall Street and the London Metal Exchange, and investigates the production, destruction, and the reformation of the World Trade Center Towers in order to write a forensics of power emerging in the post 9/11 era. Taking the architecture of the World Trade Center, the icon of American Capitalism, as point of departure, the study reflects on conditions of raw material, mining and the world of finance, and then turns to the afterlife of the World Trade Center metals as they become reincarnated in commodities, be it soup cans or aircraft carriers. The narrative is structured according to the periodic table, the system of chemical elements, which I associate with events and metals. The narrative identifies nodes of a rhizomatous network of metals that represent objects, subjects and institutions and their entanglement in the moment the system collapses.”

Comments from the Jury

The Jury was impressed by the sophistication of Alchemic Dialogue. The proposal deals with the notion of “material” in a way that, until now, has not been sufficiently addressed. The research methodology proposed by Füsun Türetken appropriates the periodic table and treats its elements as nodes in the network of metals, in order to unveil a fascinating narrative around a series of historical events, subjects, and organisations. The research will be visualised and made public through film and installation pieces.

Türetken’s proposal is unique in its approach to physical matter as a condensation of political and financial resources and imbalances, with implications for the construction of space, the circulation of currency, and the manufacture of objects. Using the medieval concept of alchemy as a paradigm for the interaction and transformation of metals, her approach evokes the kaleidoscopic viewpoint necessary to understand how materials, both as landscapes and as unitised commodities, interact with society to acquire meaning. Türetken bridges between many different disciplines — design, material studies, archaeology, geopolitics, and economics — to offer a provocative investigation into the invisible forces shaping design.

Honorable mentions

m-a-u-s-e-r

Acknowledging that architectural culture, at least for the last two hundred years, has been advocating the white/future revolution in a literal sense, m-a-u-s-e-r retrieves its black/past moments and elements. It is in the dialectics with openness, light, and transparency that dark spaces can become a means by which alternative forms of architecture can be imagined.

Víctor Muñoz Sanz

Lights Out! is a timely and solid proposal that analyses the production of space for and by fully-automated industry. Lights Out! reveals how economic decisions and industrial processes function as key factors in the development and direction of spaces and entire territories.

Michèle Champagne

Positive Properties is a visual and qualitative research project that maps the phenomenon of unbridled optimism in the contemporary design culture and discourse. With an in-depth visual audit, readings and interviews with authors, Michèle Champagne proposes to develop a vocabulary and visual language to describe and draw this new bubble of positive thinking. Her project suggests that critical perspectives and positivity intersect in complex ways in contemporary media, generating their own inertias and multiple, overlapping truisms, recreating reality in the design sphere as a dynamic version of itself.

Marina Otero
Tamar Shafrir, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Katia Truijen, Marten Kuijpers, Víctor Muñoz Sanz
k.truijen@hetnieuweinstituut.nl
Jan Robert Leegte