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Misha Ilin: meta-meta

October 14, 2023 – December 9, 2023

[Presentation & Publication]

Location: WPA Project Space

meta-meta is an expansive multi-year interdisciplinary project organized by DC and New York-based artist Misha Ilin, comprising a new book of the artist’s instruction pieces (published by WPA) and an exhibition that brought the book to life through an installation that functioned as the mise-en-scène for a series of public programs and fresh experiments.

The project, which was initiated at WPA through a research residency in 2021, engages the history and methodologies of artistic engagement with instruction-based practices (from Fluxus to Artificial Intelligence) to extend Ilin’s ongoing investigation of modes of resistance to authority and control.

 

meta-meta: Exhibition

Over the course of seven weeks, meta-meta unfolded in WPA’s Project Space, the same space where Ilin’s inquiry began, as an Artist-Organizer-in-Residence in 2021. Ilin presented a reconstruction of his residency in the form of an installation that served as a site for re-activations of his instruction pieces and a laboratory for new experiments organized through a series of public programs devised in collaboration with artist Harrell Fletcher, musician Joshua Coyne, and scholar and critic Colby Chamberlain.

These conversations and experiments further elaborated Ilin’s multi-year research of instruction-based practices: from the Fluxus movement of the 1960s, whose principles intentionally blurred the distinction between life and art, to artists today using instructions as a language of communication with AI interfaces to introduce new forms of creative expression.

 

meta-meta: Public Programs

Misha Ilin’s meta-meta is accompanied by a series of public events that situated his engagement with instruction-based practices within a broader context, including: a workshop with Some People Press/Harrell Fletcher to develop new conceptual strategies for economizing social practice and mapping both tangible and intangible exchanges; a musical performance with Joshua Coyne derived from a score that will be recomposed by the audience in real time; and a conversation with scholar and critic Colby Chamberlain, taking a deep dive into Ilin’s publication’s organizational logic and its design as a game manual for future activations.

  • Saturday, October 14 | Exhibition Opening & Book Launch
  • Thursday, October 26 | Workshop with Some People Press
  • Thursday, November 2 | Musical Performance with Joshua Coyne
  • Friday, November 17 | Discussion with Colby Chamberlain

 

meta-meta: Publication

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

Including correspondences with: Harrell Fletcher, Hannah Higgins, T. Jean Lax, Raphael Rubinstein, Alexandro Segade, and Constantina Zavitsanos.

Misha Ilin’s meta-meta: book of instructions (2023) delves into the artist’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 70 (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.

This arrangement showcases not only the morphological changes of instruction within Ilin’s practice as it traverses through the book, drawing 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). It also situates itself within the broader artistic canon exploring how instruction-based practices, while employing conceptual developments of the Fluxus movement, continue to evolve in response to contemporary discourses.

In this respect, the book’s inquiry extends beyond documentation and game play. It shows how instructions can be effectively employed in projects that scrutinize the relationships between hosts and guests, immigration bureaucracy, issues of censorship, and formation of knowledge, revealing the complex nature of power imbalances in various contexts. It also 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 critic and scholar Hannah Higgins. These exchanges cover a range of topics, mapping the field of instruction-based practices from its historical connections to artistic movements, and exploring its role in performance, power dynamics, political manifestations, and pedagogy.

 

Misha Ilin: About the Artist

“Several years ago, I left Moscow to pursue my life as an artist in the US, becoming what is termed a ‘culturally relocated person’—one who abruptly yet voluntarily relocates to the West. Born in Protvino, an off-the-map research city in Russia, and summering in Mordovia, a place known more for its prisons than scenery, I realized that the quiet orderliness of Protvino and the ubiquitous penitentiaries of Mordovia became more than just receding footnotes in my life narrative. These facts of my biography—random yet rhythmic, mundane yet uncanny, closed yet infinitely open—taught me to see beyond the apparent and seeded my artistic interest in humanity’s reaction to environments of overwhelming control.”

Misha Ilin 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 receive his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art 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. mishailin.com

 

meta-meta: About the Project Contributors & Participants

Colby Chamberlain (he/him) is faculty in residence at the Cleveland Institute of Art and previously taught art history at the Cooper Union and Columbia University. His scholarship has appeared in publications including ARTMargins, Art Journal, caa. reviews, Grey Room, and October, and he contributes frequently to Artforum as a critic. His book Fluxus Administration is forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press.

Joshua Coyne (he/him) is a composer, arranger, violinist, and music director based in New York. Known for his command of music and broad versatility both onstage and off, he enjoys developing multi-disciplinary projects that combine musical genres as well as vocal, instrumental, dance, and spoken word performance. His work has been featured at the Kennedy Center, The Sculpture Center, and the Socrates Sculpture Park.

Harrell Fletcher (he/him) is a Portland, Oregon based artist and educator who likes to go on walks and collect wild mushrooms. He’s been creating participatory art projects for over twenty-five years, including collaborations with Miranda July and Jens Hoffmann. His work was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial and is held in the permanent collections of MoMA, NY; SFMOMA, San Francisco; and SAIC, Chicago.

Hannah B. Higgins (she/her) is a Professor in the School of Art and Art History at UIC and founder of the interdisciplinary BA in IDEAS. Her books include Fluxus Experience (University of California Press, 2002) and The Grid Book (MIT, 2009). With Douglas Kahn, she co-edited Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of Digital Art (University of California Press, 2012).

Thomas (T.) Jean Lax (they/them) is a curator and writer specializing in black art, queer study, and performance at the Museum of Modern Art. A native New Yorker, Lax holds degrees in Africana Studies and Art History from Brown and Columbia Universities and is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at NYU where they are working on a project about mothers.

Raphael Rubinstein (he/him) is Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston and a New York based art critic and poet. His blog The Silo won a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant and received a Best Blog Award of Excellence by the International Association of Art Critics. In 2002, the French government presented Rubinstein with the award of Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters.

Alexandro Segade (he/him) is an interdisciplinary artist whose projects propose speculative group identities through performance, video, and installation. His group, My Barbarian, had a 20-year survey exhibition at the Whitney Museum in 2021. He is the author and illustrator of the graphic novel The Context (Primary Information, 2020), and Assistant Professor in Visual Arts, at University of California, San Diego.

Constantina Zavitsanos (they/them) works in sculpture, performance, text, and sound have been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, New Museum, Artists Space, The Kitchen, Participant Inc, and Performance Space, New York. With Park McArthur, they wrote Other Forms of Conviviality (Routledge), and “The Guild of the Brave Poor Things” in Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (MIT Press).

Upcoming

Past

Thursday, June 18, 2020 | 8–8:45pm
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Thursday, September 17, 2020 | 7:30–8:30pm
Artist Talk with Vyette Tiya, and Theresa-Xuan & Antonius Bui
Thursday, September 24, 2020 | 7:30–8:30pm
Artist Talk with Akela Jaffi & Emily Ames
Thursday, September 10, 2020 | 7:30–8:30pm
Artist Talk with Jamie Garcia & Juliana Pongutá Forero
January - March 2021 |
Bound
Friday, March 12, 2021 | 8–9pm
Radical Disobedience
Thursday, March 11, 2021 | 7–8pm
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Thursday, February 18, 2021 | 7:30-9pm
El Fondo Como Protagonista (The Background as Protaganist)
Friday, January 23, 2021 | 6:30-7:30pm
Virtual Arepera with Mercedes Golip
Friday, November 17, 2023 | 7-8pm
meta-meta: Conversation with Colby Chamberlain
Thursday, November 2, 2023 | 7-8pm
meta-meta: Performance with Joshua Coyne
Thursday, October 26, 2023 | 6-7:30pm
meta-meta: Workshop with Some People Press
Saturday, March 11, 2023 | 1:30pm
Destroy the World
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 | 5:30-7pm
Queer Life Force: Breathwork + Embodiment Practices
Thursday, March 2, 2023 | 7-9pm
How to build a world (one kiki at a time)
Saturday, February 18, 2023 | 1:30pm
Abolition of Policing—A Critical Theory of Police Power
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2023-2024 WPA Season Kick-off & BBQ
Thursday, September 21, 2023 | 7-9pm
2023 Wherewithal Research Presentations
Thursday, July 27, 2023 | 6–7pm
Ama BE: We (too) Grow On Water
Saturday, September 30, 2023 | 1-4pm
Ama BE: Open House
Calling all artists What question fuels your practice? Submit Your Idea How does your process manifest?
Calling all artists What question fuels your practice? Submit Your Idea How does your process manifest?
Calling all artists What question fuels your practice? Submit Your Idea How does your process manifest?