After an ambitious and successful first year of initiating and archiving digital collaborations, Intermission Museum of Art (IMA) is pleased to partner with Stand4 Gallery and Community Art Center in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY, to mount a physical manifestation of the archive. IMA’s archived volume i exhibitions from June 2020 through June 2021 will be included, featuring collaborations from: Jodi Hays + Ayanah Moor | Lindiwe Matshikiza + Flora Parrott | Lynn Silverman + Jason Sloan | Mira Dayal + Marina Kassianidou | Lauren K. Alleyne + Matthew Fischer | Mike Cloud + Nyeema Morgan | Aurora de Armendi + Jessica del Vecchio | Kate Casanova + Sarah Faye McPherson | Jaimini Patel + Carli Toliver | Ana Čavić + Sally Morfill | Rose van Mierlo + John Ros.

This exhibition represents a new collaboration between Stand4 Gallery and IMA whereby hosting the digital archive, Stand4 Gallery becomes IMA and vice versa. This symbiotic relationship enhances each counterpart while implementing an additional layer of collaboration. As a fictional museum and performative project, IMA challenges the status quo on the social role of museums by engaging with its fictional structures of operation. It explores the tangible effects fictionality has in the social and economic world and suggests alternative models of exhibiting while sparking meaningful conversations. Its online form enables IMA to exist in several places at once and reach multiple audiences. It is neither real nor unreal, but can be read as a critical text. Its second form is performative: IMA is both artwork and museum. It can only exist through the hospitality of others.

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Saturday, October 2nd, 11AM-12PM

Stand4 Gallery Founder and Artistic Director, Jeannine Bardo, will host IMA Founding Directors and Curators, Rose van Mierlo and John Ros, via Zoom for a discussion about IMA, collaborations and institutional critique.


a museum of (un)real things

by Rosanna van Mierlo, August 2021

in the months leading up to launching ima i had been doing research on the relationship between feminist art, fictioning and subversive activism. this was “pre-covid”. our ability to be alarmed struggled to extend to any crisis happening in the unfamiliar “over there”. we still existed comfortably in the collaborative fantasy that we could have globalism economically, but not socially, or—god forbid—corporally.

at the time, i was interested in how fictioning could be a tool for resistance, for tracing and drawing modes of escape, theoretically but also practically. i wasn’t interested in aesthetics, formalism, or the surface of things. instead, i wanted to think about fictioning as a kind of wayfinding into the future, or strategy for becoming in times of crisis. i wanted to extend the term to investigate not just art-practice, but also its institutional contexts. ima was a way to put theory into practice; both museum and art project, real and fake, it asked a question simply by being there. what makes a museum? what does it allow for and what does it negate? what is its relation to power and crisis? and how does it deploy fictioning as a means of self-justification, as well as erasure?

originally conceived in the middle ages as a public construct of legal inviolability,
fictioning evolved through literature and performance to what we now commonly think of as “fiction”: a story or character that is written or performed. however, fictioning exists much more broadly, making itself felt in almost every aspect of our world: socially, politically, sexually, artistically. fictioning brought us money, the economic market, instagram, wire transactions, legislation, fake news, gender, the list goes on…

the problem then becomes how to describe something so all-present. at the time of this writing, i still speak about fictioning with discomfort. it is a term i find myself, more often than not, wrestling to control. fictioning as practice is a slippery slope. at other times, i find some footing, finally getting comfortable with its specificity. the problem is not that
fictions are untrue; the challenge, instead, is their undeniable realness in our lives. as such, fictions are not merely personas, or even stories, they are mechanisms, formulas, and tricks. they burrow small side-steps to dominant narratives, outlining loopholes to the unknown like teasing a thread on an old woolen sweater. before you know it, the whole damn sleeve comes apart and you keep getting it caught on things.

fictions are similarly activated by desire, curiosity, and an openness to getting caught unexpectedly. the question that delineates a fiction is not traceable by asking “what is it”, but rather by asking “how does it operate”? fictioning is part of the social contract. fictions are rules, agreements, or legal and monetary constructs we have collectively signed up for. even though we, on some level, know fiction’s abstract unrealness for what it is, we have faith in the real, measurable outcome of the processes they allow for.

against this rather precarious framework it becomes interesting to look at institutions, as they are drawing their basis for existence from being, first and foremost, something that is “in operation”. a business out of operation is defunct. similarly, museums run on the premise of operation, turning art into visitor numbers, capital, or engagement figures. at its core, the idea of the museum is, of course, ridiculous. it is nothing more than an architectural construct, cemented by a web of fictions; contracts outlining its value and status.

both meschac gaba’s museum of contemporary afrikan art and ian allan paul’s guantanamo bay museum of art and history have valuably explored the fictionality that underwrites the museum as a concept, while at the same time using fictioning as a suggestion for a better future. by absolving locality, architecture and other physical denominators, they operate solely on the fictions that give the museum life. working within that fictionality alone, they are able to expose those same operations as absurd, politically failing or economically undesirable. fictioning becomes the only mode for political agency left to us. this is the operative methodology that drives ima forward, into unknown terrain. ima is not a thing, not a “what”, but a fictional tool for institutional questioning. it is an operative non-entity that tries to open up a space for unexpected conversations.