Commissioned by the first Istanbul Design Biennial in 2012, Adhocracy is an exhibition questioning the impact of new technologies and network culture on the practice of design in the 21st century. The exhibition brings together an international group of designers, architects, artists, filmmakers and thinkers working at the intersection of design, politics, public space and information design.

In the last few years, exponential technologies have substantially transformed how we work, communicate, and relate. Network culture today permeates everyday life, with a profound impact the way designers think and work and the nature of the objects they produce. This exhibition explores these transformations and offers a critical contextualization within the history of design. Adhocracy is purposefully heterogeneous, embracing everything from medical innovation to cultural and political criticism, and from furniture design to weapons manufacturing. Central themes are the evolving notion of authorship, the surge in collaborative open-source design practices, the “commons” as a crucial space of autonomous production and information design as a vital field of political activism.

As the theater of a fast-moving debate over society’s future, design is today engaged in a struggle between bureaucracy and improvisation, authority and the irrepressible force of networks, in search of a new language and a new commons. Adhocracy argues that rather than the closed object, the maximum expression of design today is the process—the activation of open systems, tools that shape society by enabling self-organization, platforms of collaboration that only partly conform to the capitalist model of competition, and empowering networks of production.

The exhibition, located in the Galata Greek School, included several laboratories of experimental on-site production, such as Unfold’s “Stratigraphic Manufactury,” in which local ceramists create 3-D-printed porcelain artifacts on-site. The exhibition was accompanied by a publication, The Adhocracy Reader, published by IKSV.

Curated by Joseph Grima with Ethel Baraona Pohl, Elian Stefa, and Pelin Tan
Graphic design by Folder
Catalogue edited by Avinash Rajagopal, Vera Sacchetti, and Tamar Shafrir

13 October — 12 December 2012
Istanbul Design Biennial
Karaköy, Istanbul

4 May – 7 July 2013
The New Museum
New York, US

4 September – 12 October 2013
London, UK