Connective Tissue

The Museo Reina Sofía’s Study Programme in Critical Museology, Artistic Research Practices and Cultural Studies

Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt), Reticulárea (installation). Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, 1969. Photograph: Paolo Gasparini, Fundación Gego Archive © Fundación Gego
Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt), Reticulárea (installation). Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, 1969. Photograph: Paolo Gasparini, Fundación Gego Archive © Fundación Gego

Presentation

The first edition of Connective Tissue, the Museo Reina Sofía’s Study Programme in Critical Museology, Artistic Research Practices and Cultural Studies, will be held in 2023. The course aims to set out an advanced and experimental study plan, which runs for a year and culminates in students obtaining an Independent Qualification. Enrolment is free and the Programme is aimed at people with far-reaching interests in museology, artistic practice, humanities, critical theory, cultural management and political imagination. Through immersion in an educational research environment, it looks to strengthen multidisciplinarity, commitment to research, procedural learning and didactic autonomy.

In the design of Connective Tissue, the Museo has activated an anatomic metaphor in reference to diverse organic tissue, the main role of which is to support and integrate, protect and structure, other tissues and organs. Connective tissue determines the form of bodies and their arrangement in spaces, and it is also the subject of growing attention in medicine and physiology. Its participation is critical in a broad range of connective, nutritional, therapeutic and mechanosensitive channels. To think of an educational research programme which “weaves the weaving of fibres”, with flexibility and a diverse specialisation, is to speak of an interdependent, situated and multi-distributed understanding of the role of a museum in the work and research taking place inside it.

Connective Tissue is the Museo Reina Sofía’s first training programme for researchers. It stems from the restructuring of its Study Centre and its interwoven research groups, which comprise connective tissue with two types of devices: Seminars (with regular, monthly sessions) and Critical Nodes (a concentrated series of one-off encounters and events). These Seminars and Nodes will put forward subjects for discussion and aspects of academic innovation which are today central to humanistic and artistic knowledge. The two devices are also complemented with other activities from the Study Centre, such as the Chair programmes and other spaces of knowledge and work — lectures, activations, schools, workshops, reading groups, etc. — involving the Department of Public Activities as a whole.

The Museo in its entirety offers participants in this Programme a space of dialogue and knowledge transfer that stretches beyond the traditional conception of teaching devices. As a result, students will develop their work in the course as Resident Student Researchers and, upon the conclusion of the Programme, will receive an Independent Qualification issued by the Museo Reina Sofía. This first edition, a pilot, will run for nine months: the first six months will involve participation in the Seminars and Nodes and the remaining three the completion of a final project.

Programme Structure and Requirements

The Research Matter works by combining the devices mentioned: Nine Seminars and Ten Critical Nodes. These thematic Seminars are planned annually and through monthly sessions lasting approximately three hours. The coordinators and initiators also make up a salient group of emerging researchers in their respective fields. They will define the schedule, lines of work and the objective of each Seminar, while the Critical Nodes are structured around activities in different formats (encounters, study days, work sessions, congresses) at specific points throughout 2023. Although these Seminars and Nodes work independently, they cross over via common force lines, feeding into each other as they welcome participants from the Museo’s Study Programme and foster their involvement.

In this first edition, the Programme’s participants will choose a minimum of nine research units from the proposed Seminars and Critical Nodes. Of these nine units, at least five must be Seminars, and participants are free to choose a combination of Seminars and Nodes from the remaining four. If they wish, participants can increase their choices in up to 19 total elements from the Research Matter.

In addition to regular attendance, Seminar participation entails reading and reflecting on materials and topics previously assigned to each session, and requires participants to actively refer to the guidelines and tasks assigned by each Seminar or Node. The Programme coordinators will evaluate how well each Resident Student Researcher performs within each Seminar and Node, and dialogues will take place between coordinators and participants with a view to certifying students’ successful completion of the Programme.

Final Research Project and Successfully Completing the Programme

Each Resident Student Researcher is responsible for carrying out a Final Project, which can be freely chosen in both format and content. The said project will entail an academic thesis, an artwork, a curatorial project, some form of artistic production or any institutional device. Moreover, the Final Project will always require support processes to be carried out at five successive junctures along the course: topic choice (until 15 March 2023), brainstorming (March 2023), a project presentation in different Seminars (until 1 June 2023), a project development presentation (during the First Study Centre Research Encounter, from 22 to 24 June 2023) and the final project defence (September-October 2023). Different committees, made up of coordinators from the Seminars and staff in the Museo, will take part in support processes leading to students successfully completing the Programme.

After Resident Student Researchers have defended their final projects, they will receive an Independent Qualification in Critical Museology, Artistic Research Practices and Cultural Studies from the Museo Reina Sofía. The diploma will stipulate the Seminars and Critical Nodes studied, in addition to the title and subject matter of the final project.

Enrolment Procedure, Required Documentation and Admission Dates

Enrolment in the Museo Reina Sofía Study Programme is free. This first edition aims to welcome a group of fifteen Resident Student Researchers.

Applications must be sent via an enrolement form by 23 January 2023. Once this form has been filled out, it must be submitted, with the documentation required to complete the process, to the following email address: tejidosconjuntivos@museoreinasofia.es. The required documents are:

  • Cover letter (2 pages): a key element for selection, where candidates must outline their interest in the Programme and explain how it ties in with their previous trajectory and future plans.
  • CV (3 to 4 pages): this should include contact details and information on candidates’ educational background, their trajectory, contributions and other merits, as well as three names provided as references.
  • A relevant sample of candidates’ work. This can be a PDF text (academic article, book chapter, project report) or a link to a website (artwork, online documentary, portfolio, etc.).
  • A record of academic, artistic and professional qualifications at undergraduate, graduate, and/or postgraduate levels.

Document reviews and notification of acceptance will be carried out in order of receipt. Candidates chosen in the first selection process may be called in for a personal interview, either in-person or online. Rejected applications will go into a waiting list.

The aim is to form a diverse group in disciplinary and experiential terms, which means that candidates are welcome from any field and with different qualifications and different education and working backgrounds. On account of the Programme’s conception, the bulk of the Resident Student Researchers are likely to be made up of people embarking upon their professional, intellectual and/or artistic career, and those with some form of training and/or prior experience. Furthermore, the Museo strongly encourages people who express differences and forms of diversity in their artistic and research practices to apply.

Times, Spaces and Commitment

  • The Museo Reina Sofía Study Programme requires strong and exacting commitment.
  • The proper functioning of the Seminars is the responsibility of all Resident Student Researchers, and a repeated lack of application (unjustified absence, systematic deficiencies in preparation, and so on) will be regarded as a serious failure to meet the course obligations.
  • Apart from exceptions highlighted in class times at the start of the course, Seminars will be scheduled on weekday afternoons/evenings. The Nodes, meanwhile, could ultimately be carried out at different session times. Throughout the Programme, specific information will be provided on dates and times.
  • In most cases, the Seminar sessions are in-person and take place inside the Museo Reina Sofía. However, some Seminars will adopt systems of online work or a combination of both formats. Ultimately, work may be carried out in other spaces. The vast majority of Nodes will be in-person.

Description of the Study Centre’s Research Matter, 2022–2023

Throughout 2023, the programme of content and activities with the dates of the Seminars and Critical Nodes will be published. Until that time, please write to tejidosconjuntivos@museoreinasofia.es with any further questions.

Seminars

  1. Forms of Culture: research conducted around practices, processes, products and languages in collectively building formalizable knowledge from the philosophy of design and with TCC (Think+Construct+Communicate) methodologies. Work which fosters an emancipatory and collective participation design by way of minimum reproducible devices is at the heart of this Seminar’s concerns. Coordinated by Pablo Jarauta (European Institute of Design), this group of researchers and designers will focus on the projective study of forms in the cultural sphere.
  2. Literature and Social Imagination: the focal point of this Seminar is literature, socially and historically situated, as conflicting production. From such premises, literary forms are understood not simply as spaces of representation but as laboratories serving political imagination and the collective desires of an era. Therefore, literature as an interposed construction from different institutions, and from literary history, demonstrates its importance in fights for legitimacy and collective participation. The Seminar is set in motion by David Becerra, Raquel Arias and Carolina Fernández Cordero (philologists from the Autonomous University of Madrid, UAM).
  3. Language, Power and Capital: a field of educational knowledge in which the conflictive intersections between language, institutions and speakers are found, and where language is a common good in perpetual dispute. Debates on political communication, new technology, neoliberalism, markets, norms, institutions, social change, culture wars and citizenship form the main lines of this Seminar conducted by Alberto Bruzos (Princeton University), Jorge Gaupp (Museo Reina Sofía), Luisa Martín Rojo (UAM) and Laura Villa (UAM).
  4. Radical History: the focus here is the study of collective relationships with the past. Its landscape bears witness to forms of producing, disputing and sharing history in the context of the Spanish State, with its collapses, erasures and utopias. A critical vocation, with disciplinary challenges and political conversation, turns historiographic work into a dispute on the limits, origins and meanings of historical experience and collective agency, from an understanding of categories and archives through the expression of the future potency of pasts to be shared. The Seminar is articulated by historians Juan Andrade (Complutense University of Madrid, UCM), Carme Bernat (University of Valencia, UVA), Xavier Domènech (Autonomous University of Barcelona, UAB), Mónica Moreno (University of Alicante) and Pedro Oliver (University of Castilla La Mancha, UCLM).
  5. Necropolitics, Aesthetics and Memory: a study of the historical links between aesthetics, resistance and political violence. The Seminar is organised in a dialogue with other research projects: the main one, coordinated by Oier Etxeberria (Tabakalera), Ana Teixeira Pinto (Universität der Künste, Berlin, Leuphana University, Lüneburg) and Germán Labrador (Museo Reina Sofía), accompanies the exhibition Evil Eye. A Parallel History of Optics and Ballistcs (Tabakalera) and centres on the study of technology and aesthetics in relation to colonialism, from the origins of drone perspectives. On the basis of this and other investigations under way (in the sphere of memory studies), the Seminar interrogates citizen forms of testimony, resistance and care confronting the history of modernity as an extractive alliance between states, elites and markets.
  6. Iberian Cultural Studies: the aim of this Seminar is to conduct work around the confluence between cultural history and art and literary studies to consider the possibilities, methodologies and challenges of situated cultural studies. Therefore, it welcomes diverse research projects already under way which interrogate the intersections between work, gender, class, culture, utopia and community in Iberian contexts and beyond their limits. The complex relations between aesthetics and history, between politics and culture, citizenship and democracy, will be at the heart of these discussions. Coordinated by Germán Labrador (Museo Reina Sofía), this space under construction will feature the involvement of different researchers, including Aurora Fernández Polanco (Complutense University of Madrid, UCM), María Rosón (UCM), Maite Garbayo (University of Barcelona, UB), Julia Ramírez (UB) and María Ruido (UB), among others.
  7. Black Iberian Studies: this proposal from Radio África seeks to blur the social imaginaries which have shaped Blackness in the Spanish State, questioning and fracturing grammars, stereotypes and the secular dehumanisation of the Black subject. At the present time, in awakening Blackness, there is the overriding need to incorporate new narratives in the public sphere. The absence of a reflection on Black presence and its resistance in Iberian spaces speaks of collective and institutional amnesia, when not complicit in racial capitalism and slave and colonial history. The plurality of the Black experience, inside and outside the territory of the archive, contrasts with its silence in the historical construction of Iberian States. Opposite this, there is a search for Blackness in material and oral archives, in historiography, the visual arts, literature, music and in popular culture to create a written and visual narrative allowing for the re-evaluation of its cultural contribution and the recognition and empowerment of Africans and people of African descent in the Spanish State. Tania Safura Adam, Edileny Tome da Mata, Kira Bermúdez and the research team from the Black Spain project will lead this pathway towards Blackness in the form of collective and situated research.
  8. Rethinking the Museum: this questions the practice of the museum institution as an ideological and political device. The museum, and in particular the art museum, has historically been an affirmative space, a certain kind of narration, a certain type of practice and practitioner, and so on. Yet, far from its unequivocal operation, the museum is run in constituent ambivalence: between an organisation of hegemonic thought and a production space of other knowledge, multiple narratives and the experimentation of the Commons, configuring a unique space of human and non-human co-existence. It raises the questions: How does the institution abandon its affirmative place to work from interrogative frameworks? What institutional practice can be put forward in re-shaping the museum device, so determined historically and administratively? In short, can the museum evolve into a “sympoetic” organisation? Coordinated by Claudia Delso and Mabel Tapia (Museo Reina Sofía).
  9. Research and Artistic Practice: a collective reflection on the forms of artistic production from the logics of research and the analysis of the intersection between aesthetics, advanced research and creative practices. The study of a repertoire of trajectories in which the relationship between research, academia and creative logics becomes structural in artistic formalisation, allowing for investigations from the relationships between research and creation in transfers, alliances and uniqueness. The Seminar is coordinated by artist Matteo Locci.

Critical Nodes

  1. Live Arts and Critical Practices: in collaboration with the research and performative creation group ARTEA and the research project by Spain’s Ministry of Science and Innovation directed by Fernando Quesada (The New Loss of Centre. Critical Practices of Live Arts and Architecture in the Anthropocene), the Museo welcomes, annually, a research group centred on thinking about the relationships between bodies, territories and conflicts. In the current edition, entitled Collective Mourning and Planetary Mourning, coordinated by Isabel de Naverán (Azkuna Zentroa and Museo Reina Sofía), a series of six work sessions is carried out between 20 December 2022 and 26 January 2023. These sessions work on the perspective of situated ecology and from the link between body and species, from the thread tying together the collective experience of mourning as a sensitive demand opposite the current landscape of climate disaster. The Node will be complemented with activities from the Expanded Theatricalities Chair held in the spring of 2023.
  2. Environmental Studies: from the last quarter of 2022 onwards, the Museo will welcome a series of environmentally oriented activities, twenty years on from the sinking of the Prestige. The historical importance of the environmental vector in understanding Spanish developmentalism is the subject matter of a series of activities to be held in the spring of 2023. Equally, the political responses to the global environmental crisis are considered in an international seminar coordinated by Fundación de los Comunes (Foundation of the Commons), under the title Capitalocene Utopias. This Node is completed with a series of live music events, a documentary exhibition in Space D of the Museo Reina Sofía Library and Documentation Centre (Cards on the Table. The Memory of Nunca Máis and Stacked Political Cards) and the fourth edition of the Aníbal Quijano Chair on decolonial thought, directed by Rita Segato and organised around the question: Can we be ecological under an extractive episteme?
  3. Critical Sociology: in May 2023, the Sociología Ordinaria collective will organise the eleventh edition of the Encounter of Ordinary Sociology, a forum which brings together multiple approaches to the cultural and political critique of popular and subaltern social forms. The question of taste in relation to the violation of social norms and from the complex and disruptive vector of profanity encourages innovative formats of academic participation that turn this forum into a place of encounter with researchers of critical sociology. It establishes a space coordinated by Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) researchers Elena Casado, Amparo Lasen, Rubén Blanco and Antonio García.
  4. Dissident Bodies: from the working line on LGTBIQ+ in contemporary culture, the Museo welcomes initiatives of research and activation which, under forms yet to be defined — reading group, performance, seminar and public conversation — call into question the place of bodies, their vulnerability, their strangeness, their commitment and their desire. This Node, coordinated by Jesús Carrillo (Autonomous University of Madrid, UAM), deals with the violence, complexities and contradictions of the present from listening to multiple bodies, acting as a platform and speaker of struggling bodies from the pandemic era.
  5. Situated Thought: at the beginning of the summer of 2022, the Museo welcomed The Chair of Situated Thought. De-Constituent: Practices and Imaginaries to Come, directed by Ileana Diéguez (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana de México, campus-Cuajimalpa) and Ana Longoni (University of Buenos Aires). The nomadic nature of this forum allows it to be accommodated in a different Latin American context every year to gauge citizen struggles in each place and from there to weave political alliances with attuned collectives. Thus, slowly and surely, the field of situated thought emerges, an experimental territory lying between artistic practice, militant action and emancipatory thought and which traces, in public and institutional spaces, a cartography of struggles and networks of resistance. The events linked to this Node are streamed online. In September 2023, a series of activities will be held in connection to the memory of Salvador Allende’s Government fifty years later.
  6. Militant Research: for the spring of 2023, the Museo en Red team, in collaboration with Fundación de los Comunes (Foundation of the Commons), La Laboratoria and the Institute of Radical Imagination, will put forward a space of training and research around the specific nature of forms of militant research. This research takes place in activist projects associated with independent practices of organisation and through the development of liberated tools and methodologies, beyond academia, the state and the market. A latticework of collaborators and people-in-residence from the Museo’s different networks interchange experiences and knowledge in crossed conversations.
  7. Older Legacies: driven by Fundación Gabeiras, the Museo holds a series of study sessions on artists’ legacies in the context of ageing. The issue of age gives rise to multiple political, cultural and anthropological challenges from their links to archive, heritage, well-being, universal basic income, demographic imagination and the cultures of care. These sessions are part of a broader framework of research and public intervention with which the Museo collaborates.
  8. Meso-American and Caribbean Circulations: aware of the need to interrogate, from the Museo, seemingly invisible cultural spaces, this Node seeks to place value on the historical and artistic legacies of Central American and Caribbean countries, considered part of a formidable cultural continent, to which Spanish institutions and audiences have paid little attention. The patent cultural and (post)colonial links that cross through comings and goings between the peninsular and circum-Caribbean, the question around indigenous nations or Afro-Caribbean cultures, and the intensive flow of diasporic, resistance-based, transcultural, and climatic exchanges enliven a programme comprising a series of activities and events.
  9. The Guattari Dictionary: in conjunction with the exhibition Machinations (31 May – 28 August 2023), different events are welcomed with links to machined political thought: forms of film work, art and political action in complex spheres such as mental health, anti-colonial guerrillas, care and associative spaces. This Node is organised through a series of screenings, an encounter with researchers of the Machinations project and sessions devoted to a study on the work of Félix Guattari.
  10. Research Projects on Wikipedia: with the collaboration of Carolina Espinoza, across the 2022–2023 academic year, the Museo sets up a work team to develop projects in collaboration with Wikimedia España. Those interested can join this group with objectives that include self-training as wikipedians, the development of Wiki working methodologies in the Museo, and publishing and the development of encounters among wikipedians.