The Institute for Wishful Thinking

2015 Resident Artist Collective
Venue: ONE Columbia office, 1219 Taylor Street
Workshop: Thursday, April 16 at 6:00 PM in the ONE Columbia office

Institute for Wishful Thinking

Can People With a Temporary Disruption of Our Normally Linear Perception of Time Consider

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Creation With a Film Festival Audience

The Institute for Wishful Thinking

April 2015 Columbia, SC

In English grammar ‘future perfect’ refers to a verb tense used for actions that will be completed before something in the future happens. The Institute for Wishful Thinking (IWT) begins with this seemingly mundane rule to interpret the Indie Grits 2015 theme, Future Perfect. Intriguingly, however, behavioral economist Keith Chan, Professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management has a hypothesis about future perfect and other future tenses: People who speak languages that express the future by adding additional words to verbs (as happens with English’s future perfect tense) tend to perceive the future as something intrinsically separate and even alien. As a result they have a harder time preparing for the future in crucial ways such as saving money or exercising to stay healthy. (1) While Professor Chan’s conclusions are controversial, it is interesting to consider if such linguistic-induced estrangement from the future might also prevent us from finding workable solutions to pressing social or environmental problems. Taking this one step further we hypothesize that our imaginations are bound by similar rules when we try to visualize what the future might look like or what we want it to look like.

In response, the IWT proposes another hypothesis: if films immerse their audiences in transformations of time and space then perhaps film festivals, Indie Grits included, create environments of saturated temporal disruption. Might we use this temporarily discontinuous perception of time to think outside the limits grammar imposes on our imaginations and consider more creative approaches to the future?

To test this hypothesis the IWT invites Indie Grits audiences to participate in an experiment. At our space at One Columbia they will be asked to color and transform a broad selection of coloring book style line drawings or to fill in connect the dot images made from photos of Columbia, South Carolina and its environs. These drawings, which represent South Carolina’s past and present as well as possible futures, give participants the opportunity to build, un-build, shape and reshape regional space according to whatever time (past, present, future) frame they choose. (Ideally a number of participants will agree to work with images both before and after screenings to serve as control groups.)

For participants who are less familiar with the city of Columbia or for those who prefer to visit some of the actual sites depicted in the line drawings and connect the dots images for reference, IWT agent Bibi Calderaro has designed a self-guided tour of selected points of interest that lie within walking distance of the One Columbia space.

Institute for Wishful Thinking

The Institute for Wishful Thinking (IWT) is a collective project that shifts the role of artist from cultural critic to change agent, offering practical assistance and possibilities for change to individuals and organizations in the form of wishes. The IWT formed in 2008 for Perifieric 8 Biennial in Iasi, Romania, an exhibition whose modest theme, Art as Gift, contrasted with the overblown scale of most international art biennials. In keeping with this, IWT acknowledged the staff of Periferic 8, which, like the staff in most art institutions, worked anonymously behind the scenes.

In 2009 IWT designed the winning proposal for a new building at 339 Lafayette Street, NYC, known as the Peace Pentagon. Headquarters for dozens of activist, progressive organizations for 40 years and now in need of repair the call for proposals asked: How can a building mobilize for peace and justice? IWT’s project repurposed an obsolete ocean liner rescued from the ship breaking industry in Asia as the Peace Pentagon’s new home.

Launching their ongoing project Artist in Residence for the U S Government (self declared) in 2011 at Momenta Art in Brooklyn, the IWT proposed that artists possess untapped creative and conceptual resources that can be applied to solving social problems. As part of the exhibition It’s the Political Economy Stupid, curated by IWT agent Greg Sholette, which opened at the Austrian Cultural Institute, NY in 2012 and traveled internationally, the IWT contributed projects about New York City’s response to its bankruptcy in the 1970s. In 2014 the IWT became Artists in Residence for the Harlem Biennale, proposing their methods for soliciting wishes in response to the Biennale organizers’ desire to query a broad public. The collective has also participated in symposia at the Austrian Cultural Institute and the School of Visual Arts in NY, at Platform, Vaasa, Finland and the College Art Association, Los Angeles.

IWT members Bibi Calderaro,* Maureen Connor,* Andrea DeFelice,* Susan Kirby,* Tommy Mintz, * Matt Mahler, John Pavlou, Nanthania Rubin, Greg Sholette. (names with asterisks are participating in Indie Grits.)