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Video: The Unmanageable Artist | A Respondent talk by Howie Chen

On Thursday, March 16th, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art presented a respondent talk with New York based artist, writer, educator and curator, Howie Chen. Chen’s background in economics conjoins with a visual acuity resulting in a unique critical perspective towards the production and dissemination of art. For this talk, Chen took up managerial technologies in Western democratic societies as they have been shaped by increased demand for autonomy and a creative life. As a template for self-sufficiency, the ‘unmanageable’ artist now faces a critical crisis of contradictions and precarity. Using managerialism as a backdrop, he examined current dissonance within art discourse and its relation to the rise of neoliberalism and reactionary politics today.

As a respondent, Chen’s poetic, critical and interdisciplinary methodology resonates with Keefer’s treatment of class, interest in the visual language of marketing, exploitation of public trust, and abstracted circulation of information addressed in her solo exhibition, FIRST CLASS, SECOND THOUGHTS, INTERMINABLE SWELL currently on display at Plug In.

Howie Chen is a New York–based curator engaged in collaborative art production and research. His curatorial and institutional work experience includes the Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMA PS1 (New York). He is a founder of Dispatch, a NYC curatorial production office and JEQU, a research project to assess how sociological and cultural economic approaches to art world debates can augment artistic critique. In 2003, with artist Mika Tajima, he formed New Humans, a moniker for collaborations with musicians, artists and designers that was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and has more recently undertaken projects at SFMOMA (San Francisco) and South London Gallery. Writings include IRL (Primary Information) and Transformers (Badlands Unlimited). Chen was recently The Jane Farver Memorial curator in residence at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP).

Plug In ICA extends our gratitude to our generous donors, valued members and dedicated volunteers.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council. We thank the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for their support of our 2016 and 2017 program, as well as Investors Group and Wawanesa Insurance for the direct support of our youth programs.