Each year, a Curatorial Fellow is invited into the institution. In 2017 Grégory Castéra (co-founder of Council) joins us for a sustained period of research on the notion of ‘assembly’.

An assembly practices the art of gathering people in order to decide how to act for themselves and for those they represent. Assemblies are common to cultures around the world and are practiced at different levels of society – family, trade union, state, militant group, business, and religious community. Shared by all, assemblies are situations of collective intelligence from which new forms of political representation may emerge.

Created in 2013, Council develops long-term inquiries to renew the representation of social issues. Assemblies is Council’s latest inquiry and yet its emphasis on structure makes it the underpinning question of all Council’s activities. The project at Witte de With represents its first iteration and constitutes its initial research, gathering together a group of researchers, thinkers and experts in order to create a space for dialogue and experimentation in assembly-making. The many forms of the assembly are investigated here through the means of contemporary art and culture production, cross-fertilized with sciences and politically engaged practices. In an attempt to study, compare, experiment with and formalize different experiences, protocols and ethics of assembly, this long-term inquiry will become an anthology of the forms of assembly in 2019-2020.

Eight essays will be commissioned to experts from various fields and will form the raw material for the program. Starting from historic, contemporary or fictional study-cases of assembly, each essay will describe one component of assembly-making: spoken-word protocols, intellectual devices, design and architecture, choreography of negotiations, amongst others. The analysis of these components will focus on their potential for emancipation and knowledge production, and on the conditions and ambivalence of their adaptability to new contexts.

A Reading Group composed of students and members of Witte de With’s general audience will gather on a monthly basis from March through December 2017 to collectively read, discuss, and edit the essays. The sessions are moderated by Grégory Castéra. Focusing on assembly-making as a knowledge we all share, the involvement in the reading group doesn’t imply any degree or expertise.

Starting from a selection among the commissioned essays, four events will be organized throughout the year in response to Witte de With’s program of exhibitions. These events will include the physical and digital publication of the essays, and may include screenings, performances, conversations, dinners and drinks.