Performance and Learning

Written by Intern on July 13th, 2017

Working at the Institute of Cultural Inquiry for the past month has allowed me to unearth my unique relationship to the AIDS Chronicles. When I first signed onto the project, I mentioned that I wanted to learn more about LGBT history; my intent, however, was not to glean more information but to take an active role in shaping the queer narrative. With the pages of newspapers in my hands, the AIDS epidemic became less abstract. The tactile experience made my understanding of the AIDS epidemic more personal and real.

Last week we had a visitor from the Museum of Contemporary Art and she joined two artists from the Monkey Head project along with Lise, Sue-Na, Hanna, Jed and I for a Socratic Seminar-esque conversation. One of the major threads of the discussion was focused on the artistic influence of performance. When we try and recreate history or embody an individual, the similarities in our respective situations can help us feel more connected to them in the absence of personal familiarity. We force ourselves to walk in their shoes by living in their world. In a lot of ways, I feel that my work with the AIDS Chronicles is another pathway for connecting to the past. I am reading through the front pages of the New York Times and I am simultaneously examining the headlines as a person who knows the future up until June 6, 2017, and as someone who has no knowledge of what comes next. In this manner, I am both clairvoyant and suspenseful, historic and present.

In another, less abstract sense, I am also learning a lot about specific events from the late 20-th century and the early 21-st century. I am certainly more equipped to discuss the 1994 Republican Revolution or the 2014 ebola pandemic because I read every article relating to those events from their given years.

Intellectually, this experience has been quite fulfilling.

— Sonya

OBJECTS2 / SILENCE = DEATH PIN / NYTCREDIT: Courtesy of William Dobbs


Greetings and Salutations from an ICI Intern!

Written by Intern on June 22nd, 2017

Hello —

My name is Sonya Kalara and I am excited to be working at the Institute of Cultural Inquiry as the office gears up for the 25-th anniversary of the AIDS Chronicles. I remember the first time I came across the Chronicles; the red pages caught my eye, and the solemn word “obituaries” kept my stare. It is an honor to contribute to a project that not only honors the victims of the AIDS crisis, but indicts the media for its silence and apathy regarding the casualties.

I am a rising freshman at Harvard University. As of this moment, my major is unclear, but I hope to someday attend law school in order to become a civil rights lobbyist or a politician; I am also looking forward to volunteering with legal groups in the Los Angeles Area during the summer. I am also hoping to catch up on my fiction reading, specifically The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

Although I don’t consider myself to be much of an artist, I do love to take photographs, write short stories, program in Python / C++ and make poetry. The ICI is one of the most inspiring spaces I have ever been in, so this summer is going to be filled with artistically invigorating experiences. Stay tuned for more commentary!

— Sonya



Hello from the new ICI Editorial Fellow!

Written by Intern on June 15th, 2017

My name is Hanna Bahedry, and I’m so pleased to be writing as the ICI’s Editorial Fellow for Summer 2017. As Editorial Fellow, I’ll be assisting the institute on both the AIDS Chronicle Project as it nears its 25th anniversary, and With Everything But the Monkey Head, a project based around the fantastic concept of “theorizing art’s untheorizable.”

I graduated from Wesleyan University with an English & Creative Writing degree and a Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory certificate. I’ve been fascinated with ICI ever since I noticed the funky, unassuming headquarters one day while filling my car at the nearby gas station (and yes, it is even cooler inside). I’ve spent the bulk of my time since graduating working in publishing, as well as hostessing at an Italian restaurant, bookselling on the Promenade, and manning the front desk at a local meditation studio. I connected immediately with ICI’s rhizomatic, contemplative approach to art, research and culture, and I’m so grateful to now be a part of this wonderful team. We consume visual culture all day every day, often unthinkingly or even unwillingly, and I’m excited to be working for an organization that asks us to consciously contemplate both what that means and how it feels. I look forward to a dynamic experience at ICI this summer!




Written by Intern on June 14th, 2017

My name is Jed Surio and I am one of the new interns here at The Institute of Cultural Inquiry. I am originally from Manila, Philippines and I am currently an art history student here in Los Angeles. My main academic interest is the intersection of art and design with contemporary culture, society and everyday life. I am also very much interested in how classical ideas from the arts and humanities, such as music, literature, philosophy and theatre, can be integrated into popular mass media.

This summer, I will mostly be working on the AIDS Chronicles project, a key endeavor of the Institute since 1992. As the project approaches its 25th anniversary, I hope to learn as much as I can through my research and contribute to the wonderful overarching goal of AIDS awareness.

Here’s to a great summer at the ICI!


– Jed



Closing thoughts at the end of my ICI internship

Written by Intern on August 23rd, 2016

The end of the summer is approaching, and, sadly, so is my time working with the ICI. I came in as the Curatorial Assistant Intern, to help with the operations for the current project “With Everything but the Monkey Head.”

I’ve learned a lot about why curation is essential for a project of this scale. While also learning how essential it is to communicate information visually, particularly for the public and curious spectators beyond the doors of the Institute.

I must say that I came to the ICI intrigued, knowing very little about the organization itself and its mission. By now, I can confidently say that I may have some small idea about the driving mission for ICI, although it remains very open for interpretation. This is a richly introspective space that the organization operates out of, a space that encourages different modes of thought.

I am very grateful and humbled to have had this opportunity, and look forward to taking what I’ve learned here with me as I move on to future ventures.

All best,

Post script: The library here is incredible! I’ve spent a lot of time here admiring the expansive book collection.