IDA (Institute for the Decolonization of Art) is an art collective based in Stockholm since 2016 with Estella Burga, Macarena Dusant and Isabel Löfgren.
IDA approaches issues in power structures within contemporary art from a decolonized perspective. This entails the identification of mechanisms of exclusion and understanding which strategies are being used by marginalized artists, artist groups and collectives with which IDA shares a background of migration, outsiderness, transculturality and assimilation.
IDA investigates knowledge structures and knowledge production in contemporary art through concepts such as diaspora, creolization and decolonization with the aim to reflect and initiate discussions about art's structural system from from an artistic and cultural perspective. Can we write another (other)) art history (ies)?
IDA works paradoxically by connotating, in Swedish, a woman's name "Ida" and in Spanish and Portuguese, relating to a spatial direction able to come back: ida y vuelta/ida e volta. The latter carries a thought of a bumerangian quality: to project onto something and then return. People with double identities always find themselves back to an in-between state and back into a foreignness.
Estella Burga has an artistic background as a photographer and is a cultural and artistic producer specialized in the field of participant-driven processes and projects. She contributes with artistic leadership, creative processes and production expertise and management within Swedish art institutions.
Macarena Dusant’s practice as an art historian and writer is permeated by matters of power structures, representation and marginalization in contemporary art. She has worked with artists and artistic practices as well as with exhibitions. She contributes with comparative knowledge of art institutions and cultural life in Sweden and a theoretical approach to participative art practices.
Isabel Löfgren is an artist and researcher. She is experienced in creating collective and participatory artistic processes focusing on divided cities, migration and feminism. She contributes with research expertise to the project as well as with an artistic leadership in the collaborative processes with artists and communities.
The common thread in our competences is artistic practice and processes reinforced by philosophy, art history and critical power perspectives. In this project our different experiences are crucial for the collective work of writing about decolonized artistic processes and differentiated art histories.
Diaspora Art Archive
THE DIASPORA ART ARCHIVE is a long-term research project that seeks to document, interact with, and create research possibilities by and about the working and living conditions of diaspora artists in Sweden. IDA's initial funding for a pre-study for a future diaspora archive includes several initiatives. The research aims to expand into opening the field for diaspora artists and subjectivities to become more visible in the contemporary art field.
We began the pre-study for the archive with a series of interviews with artists with diaspora backgrounds from several generations. The project asks the question: can we write another art history? We have also studied collections in the country's main art institutions and analyzed to which extent artists of diaspora backgrounds are represented in public collections. Lastly, we are continuously doing research into best practices in an international context.
What is Diversity?
WHAT IS DIVERSITY? is a research project that aims to problematize the notion of diversity in the Nordic context by questioning the use of this term in public policy. We began this project by sending a poetic questionnaire to over eighty art institutions in Sweden about how normative they are. This is in response to a similar questionnaire given out in 2006 when the term "diversity" began to enter the vocabulary of institutions in response to a questionnair called "what is diversity?" Even though many institutions have been open to be more inclusive, more than a decade later some of the inital goals have not been fully met.
The research project also includes inviting institution directors, curators and artists from an international context to share their international experiences with issues of diversity, thus problematizing this notion further. We believe at the end that diversity, inclusion and similar terms are better understood within the realm of social justice.
NUESTRAS MADRES is a performative artwork by the art collective IDA performed at the AHRA Architecture & Feminisms Conference in Stockholm in November 2016, which consisted of a collective ritual and a poetry reading. The ritual created a safe space where a group of participants sat around a table taking turns in sharing their stories about their mothers while embroidering their mothers' names on a single tablecloth. These were synthesized into a poem which presented the following day as a performance to the conference participants.
Even though the role of mothers and their knowledge is usually connected to the private sphere, the knowledge of our mothers and their mothers shared en la mesa - over the table - is important in the construction of political subjects. How has this knowledge helped us survive in society as women, queer, indigenous, working class, Muslim, immigrant - as human beings? In this project, IDA investigates issues in private and public space connected to knowledge production and gender normativity.
Young filmmakers: Letters from Jordbro
LETTERS FROM JORDBRO is youth project with young filmmakers done in 2017. In this project, four teenagers tell their stories by filming and writing a script in the form of a letter meant to be sent to a receiver of their choice. The project is a public commission by Haninge municipality south of Stockholm done in collaboration with a local youth center, Porten, whose mission is to provide a place for young people in the community to meet, create and have a place of belonging.
Four short films were created by the filmmakers themselves within IDA's creative approach focusing on writing another (and one's own) art history. The films premiered in September 2017 in a cinema and has since been shown in schools and is available for viewing online.
Echoing voices of resistance
WE HEARD THAT is a performative poem. IDA was asked by Arts Out of Office, a network of artist-run spaces across the Nordic region and Central Europe, to summarize a day of talks, workshops and panels between several artist-run organizations in May 2018. During the entire event, participants were also asked to draft a list of demands to be sent to the Culture Ministry as a manifest that gives voice to those cultural actors who are most vulnerable to changes in cultural public policies in case of power shifts towards conservative governments. Acting as a sounding board and echo chamber, IDA composed a poem which was read aloud collectively while the manifesto containing all demands is written simultaneously and projected live. This performative reading follows IDA's creative participatory process in which we invite groups, communities and peers to engage in collective practices.
Research Trip to NYC
In May 2018, IDA visited institutions, curators and artists in NYC looking at alternative models for institutional practices with a strong community engagement.
We visited Medium Tings, Magnum Foundation, photographer and author Qiana Mestrich from Dodge&Burn, EnFoco, Studio Museum i Harlem, Queens Museum, A Blade of Grass, Brooklyn Museum, and exchanged experiences and ideas.