About the Foundation
Mission and Overview
Statement of Values
Donations and Funding
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Slought Foundation is founded by Aaron Levy, together with French philosopher Jean-Michel Rabate and Argentine artist Osvaldo Romberg. The organization begins as an intergenerational collaborative, leveraging cultural diversity as a curatorial asset. Derived from the word 'slough,' the name of the organization was selected to suggest ecological metaphors of rejuvenation and reinvention. Live events are initially held at the University of Pennsylvania. These include presentations by architect Daniel Libeskind and philosopher Slavoj Zizek, among others. A website is launched to host recordings from these programs as well as over 50 hours of newly restored audio from the Vancouver 1963 Poetry Conference. These recordings feature New American poets such as Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, and Robert Duncan, and constitute one of the largest online archives at the time.
Slought Foundation incorporates as a non-profit in Pennsylvania and receives 501c3 designation. Space is leased in a former Deco/Beaux-Arts building from 1924 with the support of the University of Pennsylvania. Programming is envisioned as a bridge with surrounding communities which are socio-economically challenged and lack access to cultural institutions. The first event premiers John Boskovich's film North starring Gary Indiana, which revisits Celine's novel about politically compromised figures following World War II. The inaugural exhibit, Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting, revisits Raul Ruiz's avant-garde film classic of 1979 as a curatorial experiment and features Jasper Johns, Sol Le Witt, Gerhard Richter, Alexander Calder, Oskar Kokoschka, and Josef Albers. Edward Fry's correspondence in organizing Documenta 8 in Kassel, Germany is displayed, offering the public a rare window into the institutional complexity of curating.
Slought Foundation opens Cities Without Citizens, an exhibit at the Rosenbach Museum and Library and Slought Foundation that explores changing definitions of citizenship and offers a new model for archival interventions. The publication features contributions by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and others, and together with the exhibition begins the organization's engagement with human rights discourse. Detente, an exhibit exploring provocations by Russian contemporary artists, inaugurates a series of cultural exchanges with international individuals and institutions. Slought Foundation opens Show for the City to coincide with the elimination of cultural funding in area public schools. The exhibit features work by youth from neighboring schools in West Philadelphia and is organized with the Center for Community Partnerships and the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. A performance by Paris-based Sunny Murray inaugurates Slought Foundation's live music program. The series, which revisits Philadelphia's rich Jazz legacy, is popular with West Philadelphia communities.
The exhibit Kovert Konflagration Kovenant by blind African-American sculptor David Stephens responds to Philadelphia's vexed history of racial tension and cross-burning. The foundation nearly loses its lease in supporting the artist's symbolic re-appropriation of the practice, but is supported by the African-American community and receives national press coverage for the first time. William Anastasi's me altar's egoes also opens, covering the galleries with thousands of painstakingly copied pages about Jarry, Joyce, Duchamp, and Cage. Architecture Against Death engages the controversial work of Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, and signals the organization's growing commitment to contemporary architectural practice. Meanwhile, Sun Ra meets Napoleon continues the organization's archival interventions responding to Philadelphia's rich history of popular culture. The exhibit is accompanied by Interstellar Space is the Place, a concert with Rashied Ali and Marshall Allen that for the first time brings descendants of John Coltrane's and Sun Ra's bands together to perform. Neurotic Cities, a rare collaboration with the Barnes Foundation, explores the troubled history of the collection and its relationship with the city. in which the thinking man finds himself in an orphanage premiers at Slought Foundation. This film collaboration with Girard College exposes a previously unknown room in historic Founder's Hall that features material culture from 1845 stored in haphazard accumulation.
Slought Foundation inaugurates a series about artistic provocation with Die Aktionen: 1962-2003, an exhibition exploring the work of legendary Viennese Actionist Hermann Nitsch. This is followed by Conflict: Perspectives, Positions, Realities in Central European Art, curated by Lorand Hegyi for Le Musee d'art moderne de Saint-Etienne, which challenges prejudices about the contemporary culture of Central Europe. The Revolt of the Bees, opens at the University of Pennsylvania's Rare Book and Manuscript Library with a seminar by Anthony Grafton, and proposes a new culture of memory and archiving inspired by Daniel Pastorius's legendary commonplace book The Beehive. Slought Foundation inaugurates a series of projects with prominent European philosophers, beginning with Cities, a public seminar and exhibit by Helene Cixous that responds to the flooding of New Orleans following Katrina. Other events include Hal Foster in conversation about Body Art & Performance, and Arthur Elsenaar and Remko Scha performing Morphology / Face Shift, which revisits Darwin's and Duchenne's historic studies on emotion through live electrical stimulation of their facial muscles. Slought Foundation also premiers Zizek! in advance of its theatrical debut and organizes a conversation about the public intellectual craze.
Slought Foundation enters into a formal affiliation with the University of Pennsylvania's School of Arts and Sciences. Tactics opens, a retrospective about the early video works of pioneering artist Dennis Oppenheim. The exhibit explores the artist's use of his own body as a site of experimentation, and reflects the organization's interest in the changing relationship between artists, institutions, and the cultural dissemination of their work. The videos are displayed alongside Wave Forms, a public art project commissioned by the City of Philadelphia's Redevelopment Authority and the Percent for Art Program. This is the organization's first public sector collaboration and its first engagement with public art. Primal Secretions opens, continuing the organization's exploration of artistic provocation and post-War artistic practice. It revisits the legendary works of Gunter Brus through rare photo and video documentation. Cross-Catalytic Architectures features the architectural engineer Cecil Balmond in conversation and explores the relationship between architecture and the biological sciences. Film as Critical Practice, an exhibit and conversation with Thomas Y. Levin, Anthony Vidler and others, explores the cinema of Guy Debord and the Situationist International. Bareback Subcultures, addresses the pornography of risk and avant-garde film practice in the gay community, and The Test Drive, an event and book launch, features Avital Ronell in conversation about the American obsession with testing and experimentation.
In the spirit of the conceptual information shows of the early 1970s, Slought Foundation inaugurates a series of international exhibitions about the organization's history. The first iteration, Slought in Berlin, opens at Galerie Heike Curtze Berlin. In conjunction with Slought in New York, Slought Foundation collaborates with Cabinet magazine on In Defense of Sloth, a conference about the cultural history of laziness at The Cooper Union in New York. The Ways to Post History opens in Philadelphia, a retrospective about Braco Dimitrijevic featuring live animals as well as The Casual Passer-By I Met at 3.01 pm, Philadelphia, a series of outdoor portraits by the artist of casual passers-by, displayed on historic facades of University of Pennsylvania buildings to create perturbations in the public's habital engagements with the public sphere. This project is Slought Foundation's first public art commission from an artist and coincides with a curatorial seminar at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the first in the country to explore critical theories about art and provide students with curatorial experience. Ecstatic Truth opens, featuring films and photographs of Werner Herzog, along with On the Ecstasy of Ski-Flying, a public conversation with the filmmaker. The exhibit German Video from the Ingrid Oppenheim Collection, in collaboration with the Kunstmuseum Bonn, showcases film work by German artists from Joseph Beuys to the present, many of which had not previously been exhibited outside of the institution let alone in the United States. Democracy and Disappointment features Alain Badiou and Simon Critchley on the politics of resistance. Evasions of Power, a two-day international conference in collaboration with Goldsmith's College in London and Eastern State Penitentiary, explores the relationship between literature, architecture, and geopolitics and features speakers including Samuel Weber, Carlos Basualdo, and Thomas Keenan.
Slought Foundation presents Into the Open, the Official U.S. representation at La Biennale di Venezia, 11th International Architecture Exhibition (2008), with assistance from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The exhibit subsequently travels to the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, and, later, the National Constitution Center and Slought Foundation in Philadelphia. Other exhibitions include Power Fields, a retrospective exploration about the work of Vito Acconci and the Acconci Studio, with From word to action to architecture, a presentation by the artist, and North, an installation with John Palmesino of Territorial Agency in which the organization is submerged in water. Another Tomorrow, in collaboration with the Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum in Graz, Austria, features young video art from their collection. Slought Foundation also continues its exhibition program with Slought a Paris, with la maison rouge - fondation antoine de galbert and Sciences-Po in Paris, France. Peter Weibel presents a seminar entitled Is there a world beyond media? Art as a rewriting program at the Slought Foundation.