meta-meta: book of instructions

meta-meta: book of instructions by Misha Ilin
Washington Project for the Arts, 2023
Softcover, smyth-sewn binding, 9.25 x 6.5 in.
132 pages
$50.00 — Order here

WPA Note:
This book is part of meta-meta, a project organized by artist Misha Ilin as part of his residency at WPA. In addition to this book, the project included an exhibition at WPA’s Project Space from October 14–December 9, 2023.

meta-meta: book of instructions (2023) delves into Misha Ilin’s utilization of instructions as a medium, tracing its evolution from his initial explorations of strategies of care through his ongoing research into human responses to environments of excessive authority and control. The book, which functions as both documentation and a game manual for future activations, consists of a curated selection of 65 (out of more than 800) instructions, arranged variously by theme, affect, and project through a Table of Contents that mimics the design of a periodic table.

The arrangement of the book and its contents draw parallels to the tradition of artist instruction books such as Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit (1964) and more contemporary endeavors like Hans Ulrich Obrist’s and Boltansky Brothers’ Do It project (1993 to present). The book traces the evolution of instruction-based artworks, from a simplistic means of audience engagement caught in the dichotomy of submission and control, to a potent form of personal resistance and reclamation of agency in response to the inherent tension within this duality. Furthermore, it explores the linguistic capacity of instructions to serve as forms of knowledge and experience, thus articulating the emerging relevance of this medium as a main means of communication with language models and machine interfaces.

meta-meta: book of instructions is annotated with edited transcripts from a series of correspondences and conversations between Ilin and experts in various fields, each exploring different topics relevant to the artist’s interests in instruction-based work. These experts include artists Harrell Fletcher, Alexandro Segade, Constantina Zavitsanos, poet and writer Raphael Rubinstein, curator T. Jean Lax, and scholar and critic Hannah Higgins. These exchanges cover a range of topics that explore the role of instructions as a tool for creativity, communication, and control—across performance, politics, bureaucracy, and pedagogy.

About the Artist:
Misha Ilin (he/him) studied art at the National Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow. In 2016 he moved to the United States to pursue his art career and received his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2019. Misha has recently exhibited at M+B Gallery, Los Angeles; the kitchen, Berlin; Modern Art Museum, Shanghai; and Washington Project for Arts, DC, among other venues. Misha currently lives and works in New York.