[-empyre-] introduction to the Institute for Aesthetic Research

daniel p. lichtman danielp73 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 10 02:08:37 EST 2009

Dear -empyre-,
Thank you very much, Renate, for the introduction. Here's a brief
description of the project that David and I have set up.

Best regards,
David and Daniel

Institute for Aesthetic Research--

As part of the exhibition America For Sale at Exit Art, in New York
City, artists David Baumflek and Daniel Lichtman have established a
think tank entitled the Institute for Aesthetic Research. Through
weekly discussions at Exit Art [at which Tim and Renate recently led a
very interesting discussion on this month's topic for empyre], an
online wiki, and hopefully this discussion forum, participants in the
project will collaboratively produce a web and print publication that
explores the possibilities of cultural production in contestation, or
outside the realm of current economic and political conditions.  The
content and distribution system of this publication will be
collectively decided and enacted.

The form of the think tank is inextricably linked to the rise and
dissemination of Neoliberal politics.  In the past several decades,
the rapid increase in the number and influence of think tanks has
affected a remarkable shift of power away from democratic processes.
Funded by private contributions, often by corporate capital, the think
tank conducts scholarly research into political issues from the
standpoint of its sponsors.   By authoring policy recommendations from
a seemingly impartial and detached organization, the think tank is an
extremely effective  way of implementing the benefactors’ ideology.
Conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation and the American
Enterprise Institute have issued publications of tremendous
consequence in the formation of public sentiment and governmental
policy.  Influential members of these Washington think tanks were
central to the planning of the 2003 invasion of Iraq as well as the
framing of its reception by the American public.

The Institute for Aesthetic Research attempts to translate the
traditional role of the think tank into the sphere of cultural
production and visual art.  While the traditional think tank situates
itself between the academy, special interests and government, the IAR
will consider how to place itself within the circuits of distribution
and legitimation of aesthetic objects and ideas.

With the aim of moving beyond Neoliberalism in cultural production,
the IAR is itself an experiment in the dynamics of cultural-political

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