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Phase 2: Beginning my Fall Fellowship

Friday, October 13th, 2017

New York Public Library, 1998.

After wrapping up my first fellowship working on the Monkey Head project–and taking one long, deep inhale–it’s time for me to dive right back into it with a second fellowship! I’m so grateful that Lisa and Sue-Na have asked me to stay on for a few more months to work on a completely different project, as I feel so at home in this creative, collaborative, inquisitive space.

This time, I’ll be the Editorial Fellow for the AIDS Chronicles project, ICI’s flagship project. I’m thrilled to finally get involved with the AIDS Chronicles, as it’s so foundational to the ICI, not to mention such a crucial and relevant project that I connect to personally. There’s a lot to do as we gear up for the project’s 25th anniversary at the end of 2019. I’ll be doing research for the catalogue we’re making about the project, tracking down information about all the artists who have participated in the project over the years, as well as researching funding. This project is so large and expansive–and so inherently visual and spatial–that trying to confine it to two-dimensional pages will be a challenge. Finding an inventive and dynamic way to represent it on the page is an exciting challenge I’m ready to tackle.

I’ll be blogging weekly about my experience from our editor’s blog, so make sure to follow my journey at I’m sure there will be much more to say about this once I get started, but for now, there’s a stack of articles on my desk about the book as a metaphor that aren’t going to read themselves.



Wrapping up my first ICI Fellowship

Friday, October 6th, 2017

After four months of living inside artist lab books and dreaming of malfunctioning printers, I’m finally saying goodbye to the Everything But the Monkey Head project. This fellowship has been such a rewarding experience for me as I learned the ins and outs of what makes this unique institution tick and immersed myself in the creative output of our resident artists.

My main role for this fellowship was to assess the mass of fascinating material generated by each artist participating in the Monkey Project and organize them into a kind of master document. Each artist followed a specific template during their residency for the project–e.g., create a lab book, write two blue board maxims, participate in the finnisage–yet each artist’s output was delightfully different. Within this uniform skeleton structure, the artists built drastically different spaces, relied on unique materials, and asked particular guiding questions to create something wholly theirs. I loved flipping through each artists’ lab book as I scanned them into the computer, marvelling over the intricate pencil drawings in Pam Posey’s, the sumptuous transparent maps of Anna Ayeroff’s, the ghostly faces appearing and reappearing in Greg Cohen’s. Each artist had run wild with their prompts, plunging themselves into new and strange worlds that I felt privileged to travel in, if only for a short time.

Once the mass of created content had been digitally gathered, I went about organizing them into one document, a declaration of the project’s mission as a whole followed by a distillation of each artist’s output. The act of wrestling the expansive results of the project into a book, a necessarily finite thing, posed its own problems. I did my best to make the text a playful object with porous boundaries, a thing I poured love and attention into; I engaged with the concepts posed by the project and the artists themselves, scribbled on the pages, pulled abstruse keywords through the pages using cut outs, and toyed with different materials for each page. I wanted the book to be fun to touch and to look at, and most of all I wanted to honor the work each artist had done by making the book more than just a static collection of scans. I wanted it to be in conversation with the messy and inviting questions we were asking about art and the circular relationship between action and theory.

Flipping through the massive binded book, you can see just how many avenues each artist walked down, how many doors were opened from the simple (yet deeply complicated) guiding question we began with: how do we theorize art’s untheorizable? Each project follows its own logic and creates its own world, and taken together, it becomes dizzyingly apparent just how malleable, dynamic and generative that guiding question was. The role I played in Monkey Head was small, but I’m proud that I got to be a bit player contributing to this interesting project.


— Hanna

Closing Thoughts

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

What an enriching past few months it has been at The Institute!

As my time here comes to an end, I realize more and more how much I have truly enjoyed working with great ideas and even greater people. I’m so thankful to have been able to contribute to the AIDS Chronicles project because it helped me learn so much about art, HIV/AIDS activism, journalism, and social thought. At the end of every work day, I walk away feeling satisfied knowing that what I put in becomes part of something much bigger.

The ICI itself is such a wonderful environment and I am very humbled to have had the opportunity to spend the summer here!


All the best,