Complex Contemporary Art Organizations: New Transdisciplinary Models

Coordinator: Philip Nadasdy

Complexity offers new strategies for contemporary art organizations to support their missions. From the lens of arts administration, this white paper draws on complexity theory as an organizational strategy for contemporary art organizations. Rather than developing peripheral or alternative models to existing institutions, a networked infrastructure of organizations of varying sizes and disciplines would yield innovative, transdisciplinary programming and facilitate otherwise difficult to obtain resources on an ad hoc basis.

The unstable and isolated nature of contemporary art organizations in the U.S. hinders the development of mutually beneficial and sustainable networks. Complexity, though, serves as a set of tools in which instability becomes an asset, leading to emergent forms of programming and dynamically responsive organizations. Comparable international examples like L’Internationale [] and Museum as Hub [] act as stepping-stones, yet the absence of external disciplines within these networks leaves room for transdisciplinary innovation.

Drawing parallels between principles of complexity and relevant contemporary art and curatorial practices, the white paper calls on contemporary art organizations and funders to imbue these links into their organizational models, and for increased development of programming structures specifically designed to network contemporary art organizations with external disciplines. Additionally, the white paper identifies contemporary art organizations as potential public platforms for SEAD research and projects, expanding beyond higher education institutions.