Bureau for Open Culture

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Operating between 2007 and 2014, Bureau for Open Culture was an itinerant, nonprofit curatorial and publishing initiative that collaborated with museums, universities and foundations to make projects in dialogue with contemporary artists and writers.

Work by Bureau for Open Culture was made possible with support with from individuals, art institutions, academies, bookstores and foundations in the fields of visual and performing arts. Its exhibitions often responded to the social, economic and urban conditions of the cities in which they occurred. Bureau for Open Culture collaborated with individuals and organizations from disciplines such as architecture, philosophy, design and urban planning to produce work.


Founded in 2007 by James Voorhies, Bureau for Open Culture realized much of its early work with Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio. The exhibitions it produced for CCAD presented art by emerging, established and historical artists such as Ryan McGinley, Eve Sussman, Candida Höfer, Guy Debord, Gordon Matta-Clark, N55, BANK and Clemens von Wedemeyer. In Columbus, Bureau for Open Culture collaborated with institutions and organizations such as Columbus Metropolitan Library, Grandview Heights Public Library, Third Hand Bicycle Co-op, and Ohio State University.

Program Highlights[edit]

In 2012 Bureau for Open Culture produced the performance lecture a kind of forever present at Bernhard Cella´s Salon für Kunstbuch 21er Haus in Vienna, Austria.[1] It was also awarded a project fellowship at the Siena Art Institute in Siena, Italy and produced the research exhibition L'ECLISSE redux, based on the 1962 film Eclipse by Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni.

In 2011 Bureau for Open Culture participated as invited presenters at Open Engagement, an international conference on socially engaged art.[2] It made the work On Symptoms of Cultural Industry, which investigates the role of artistic and cultural work in relation to the economic, social and physical conditions of North Adams, Massachusetts, where it functioned from 2010 to 2012.

Bureau for Open Culture collaborated with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Massachusetts to present the four-month exhibition I Am Searching for Field Character, inspired by a 1973 text of the same title by Joseph Beuys. Produced in association with the MASS MoCA exhibition The Workers, I Am Searching for Field Character was a series of public conversations, performances, installations, and workshops with visiting artists, writers and designers, including the weekly operation of a beer garden. Bureau for Open Culture worked at this time out of a previously unused industrial building on the grounds of the museum.

Bureau for Open Culture is included in the New Museum's Art Spaces Directory.

In 2009 Bureau for Open Culture invited the international artist collectives Claire Fontaine, Learning Site, Red 76, REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT and Tercerunquinto to participate in the exhibition Descent to Revolution[3] in Columbus, Ohio. The exhibition featured site-specific temporary artworks and collaborations that took place throughout the urban space of the city.

Red 76 made use of a large warehouse space in downtown Columbus, which housed many of their events, such as the Pop-Up Book Academy.[4] Learning Site’s[5] contribution to the exhibition included a pair of large sculptural sound houses called Audible Dwelling,[6] which was a combination of loudspeaker and dwelling composed of two identical units.[7] Claire Fontaine’s contribution was a solar-powered neon, which flickered between WARM and WAR. It was accompanied a group reading of Jean-François Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy and a public lecture addressing the Women’s Movement of 1977 in Italy, Autonomia and Silvio Berlusconi. REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT, or “Cleaning Society,” performed The Readymade Demonstration, which referred to the march in East Germany on November 4, 1989. It questioned the technique as a viable form of protest today. Tercerunquinto proposed to inscribe “It Was Built To Fail” on the exterior facade of Columbus City Center in downtown Columbus. The phrase is based on a statement issued by Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman about the fate of the mall. The mall has since been demolished.


Bureau for Open Culture disseminated information in digital and printed mediums. The publications include original essays, commissioned texts, new work and re-prints of theoretical writings related to the ideas initiated by the exhibitions. These publications feature writing by Susan Sontag, Michel Foucault and Claire Fontaine. They are distributed by Printed Matter, New York; Pro qm, Berlin; Motto, Berlin; Half Letter Press, Chicago; Van Alen Books, New York; McNally Jackson, New York; Salon für Kunstbuch, Vienna; Purr, Buenos Aires; Útúrdúr, Reykjavík and Art Metropole, Toronto; and at museum bookstores at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London; Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), Montreal; MASS MoCA; LA MoCA.

In 2011 Bureau for Open Culture made a publication with Printed Matter Inc., in New York City as part of their Artists and Activism series.


  1. http://vimeo.com/38145946[unreliable source?]
  2. "Open Engagement | Art + Social Practice". Openengagement.info. Retrieved 2011-12-30.[not in citation given]
  3. "Interview with James Voorhies". Rhizome. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  4. Fuller, Daniel (2009-08-17). "The Pop-Up Book Academy: An Interview with Sam Gould of Red76 | Art21 Blog". Blog.art21.org. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  5. http://www.learningsite.info/AudibleDwelling.htm
  6. "Ear to the Ground | Metropolis POV | Metropolis Magazine". Metropolismag.com. 2010-01-11. Retrieved 2011-12-30.[dead link]
  7. "Exhibit provides its own dialogue | The Columbus Dispatch". Dispatch.com. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2011-12-30.

External links[edit]

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