Vera List Center Fellowship


From 2013 until 2015, I’ll be a fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School.

From the Vera List Center’s recent announcement:

The center’s fellowships support individuals whose work advances the discourse on art and politics, in relation to a curatorial focus theme Alignment for 2013–2015. The appointments provide the opportunity to further develop such work by drawing from the academic resources of The New School, expanding on the work in collaboration with students and classes, and bringing it to the public through the Vera List Center’s interdisciplinary public programs.

Alexander Provan will embark on a research project on standards, which will inform an upcoming issue of Triple Canopy, public programs at The New School, and a series of essays to be published as a book. Provan’s research will consider standards as liberating and homogenizing forces that facilitate global communication as well as binding activities across space, cultures, languages, disciplines, and regimes. Provan will investigate historical and contemporary standards having to do with industrial production and trade, the regulation of time, digital file formats, and the metrics of global governance—seemingly disparate phenomena that together indicate a broad structural shift in the way cultural practices are determined.

Provan will question how the representation of these invisible infrastructures, by incorporating the codes and characteristics of standards, might give rise to new forms of aesthetics and politics, even consciousness. How might one employ the standardizing elements of reading today—whether metadata tags or Library of Congress Classification—in service of illumination and formal innovation? How do the standards governing the circulation and visualization of information online enforce a logic of control? How and where can we meaningfully exploit and resist standardization?

The VLC’s initiatives evolve around curatorial topics of particular urgency and broad resonance. In 2013–2015, the topic is Alignment, usually referred to as the “proper or desirable relation of components to one another.” With distinctions blurring between nature and culture, individual and group, and political and economic systems, we hope to examine the phenomena of alignments in political, economic, and scientific spheres and, in so doing, will ultimately ask questions of political agency.

The 2013–2015 Vera List Center Fellows
Alexander Provan is a writer and editor living in New York City. He is the editor of Triple Canopy, a magazine and editorial collective based in New York, Los Angeles, and Berlin. He is also a contributing editor of Bidoun, a magazine of the arts and culture of the Middle East and its diaspora. His writing on digital culture, aesthetics, literature, and politics has appeared in Artforum, Frieze, The Nation, Art in America, The Believer, n+1, and Bookforum, among other publications. Provan is the recipient of a 2011 art and research grant from the Centro Cultural Montehermoso Kulturunea,Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, where his project Popular Legacy was exhibited in the summer of 2012.

With Triple Canopy, Provan works on collaborative artistic and literary projects, public programs, print objects, and technological experiments, so as to cultivate a critical perspective on the relationship between technology, culture, and the politics of public space. Triple Canopy is devoted to sustained inquiry and creative research—to making a public, and thus a living culture, one that accumulates and reverberates rather than being bracketed and bucketed, monetized and dispersed. Triple Canopy has recently participated in exhibitions and organized public programs at the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver; Artissima 18, Torino, Italy; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson.