Resources > Institute for Provocation
19 May 2011

Institute for Provocation

The Institute for Provocation (IFP) is a Beijing-based workspace and think tank hosting residencies, research projects, workshops and lectures. IFP aims to be a crossway between disciplines and attitudes in the realm of art, architecture, design and urban studies. Through its wide network of actors, makers and researchers in China and beyond, IFP can provide intelligence to our residents and collaborators who themselves become a part of the network. Together with these, IFP is constantly investigating both theoretical and practical issues about the city and its structure, its history, its way of working as an organism.

Through its wide network of actors, makers and researchers in China and beyond, IFP can provide intelligence to our residents and collaborators who themselves become a part of the network. Together with these, IFP is constantly investigating both theoretical and practical issues about the city and its structure, its history, its way of working as an organism.

IFP is the collaborative intelligence of architects/researchers/curators Chen Shuyu and Max Gerthel (Beijing) and editor/curator Els Silvrants-Barclay (Brussels). As an organization, IFP shares their generalist approach to both theory and practice, emphasizing the possibilities offered by interdisciplinary strategies and work modes. As a workspace, IFP focuses on the thinking process before or even beyond the actual creation of an artwork: collection of drama-turgical information, testing of different architectural scenarios, experimenting with new media or disciplines, and so on.

Through the continuity of its 6-month-long residency programme (since 2009), IFP has gained experience in curating research projects with long-term agendas, where often a manifold of transformations and adaptations form an essential part of the process. IFP continues to invest in artists and projects that have stirred IFP’s artistic agenda, if possible concluded within the framework of small-scale curatorial projects.

With a specific interest in public space, IFP aims to provoke new narratives about the city, its spaces and locales through self-initiated interventions and research projects. By exploring various readings of contemporary public space, IFP tries to open up this field of study to non-acedemic actors and situationalist approaches. Located in the heart of Beijing's Dongcheng district in between the touristic nanluoguxiang area with its souvenir shops and snack bars, and a very local hutong area, IFP forms a part of a small but growing cluster of non-commercial art spaces within boundaries of the old city. The location provides an insight into the convergence of an ancient dwelling typology and its contemporary incarnation, rapidly transformed into depleted versions of 'cultural industry'.

Space, territory and geography are the primary contextual platforms in which the arts operate, interact and thus should be understood; but they also make out the contemporary and critical substance that when performed, free us from borders, institutes, ideologies and markets. Consequently, IFP taps into content generated in China but also connects with the new contexts, artistic architectures and mobilities established inside and in partnership with China. IFP thus supports mobility of artists and researchers by being a work station firmly grounded in its own Asian context.