Interviews with the Swamp Thing, the Poacher and the Healer



Instituting Practices, Artistic Institutions, Activist Museums, Postdigital Memory, Conceptual Narration


Interactions with and within institutions have characteristic qualities, styles, personalities, and tone. These aspects of institutional life are difficult to capture through formal description or professional obligation. Institutions comprise performed characters, each activating infrastructural scenography in their way, infusing physical, procedural architectures with particular tonalities. How might we trace these performers? What are these performances, and for whom are they enacted?

Transcribed here are conversations with essential practitioners. These are the characters of art institutions, tracing outlines of who they are and what they do, and how they perform it. Necessarily veiled and anonymized, these personnel profiles have monikers following their ways of life within the institution: Swamp Thing, Poacher, and Healer. They recount and refract dimensions of the critically indivisible person-professional-practitioner entities that people in arts and cultural institutions find themselves impelled or compelled to become. Such exchanges about practices in institutions reveal how these contexts demand that we enact reactionary and curative roles, composed within the constraints and affordances of the scenographic infrastructure of buildings and publications, policies and procedures, presumption, and tradition.


Jamie Allen, FHNW Institute Experimental Design and Media Cultures

Jamie Allen is a researcher, artist, designer and teacher, interested in what technologies teach us about who we are as individuals, cultures and societies. Born in Canada, he lives in Europe, works on art and technology projects, writes a bit, and tries to engage himself with and create prefigurative institutions that are generous and collaborative, acknowledging that friendship, passion and love are central to aesthetic, research and knowledge practices. He is Senior Researcher with the Critical Media Lab in Basel, Switzerland.

Bernhard Garnicnig, FHNW Institute Experimental Design and Media Cultures

Bernhard Garnicnig is an artist and researcher at the Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures Basel. His artistic research explores how the interstitial space between institutions and intuition can be developed through the design of formats, surfaces and interfaces to support transdisciplinary trajectories of knowledge and practice. In 2014 he co-founded Supergood, a nomadic movement in the ambiguous space between product and performance.

Lucie Kolb, FHNW Institute Experimental Design and Media Cultures

Lucie Kolb is a researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures Basel and the Zurich University of the Arts. In 2017, she received her doctorate on artistic publishing strategies since 1960 at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. She is currently writing a theory novel on the last critical art institution. In addition, she writes criticism for art magazines, and is co-editor of the magazine Brand-New-Life.