A*DESK, International and Independent Institute of Criticism and Contemporary Art, is the initiative of a group of contemporary art professionals. The mission of A*DESK is to vindicate actively the value of creative thought and to generate debate around art and contemporary culture.
A*DESK is a critical platform focused on publishing, training, experimentation, communication and dissemination in relation to contemporary culture and art, which is defined by transversality. The starting point is contemporary art, because that is where we come from and this awareness allows us to go much further, to incorporate other disciplines and forms of thought in order debate issues that are relevant and urgent for understanding our present.
A*DESK is an international platform, flexible and in evolution, with the intention of building bridges between generations and opening up new avenues of opinion, criticism and discourse. The board of directors of A*DESK is formed by Montse Badia, Andreas M. Kaufmann and María Muñoz. Since 2019 we have had guest editors who, for one month, have carte blanche to define the theme and the texts published. With this, A*DESK is open to new inputs and also becomes a place of work and experimentation for a larger number of people. In 2020, we launch a weekly agenda, that highlights the most rellevant cultural events in town. We also intensify our activities with seminars, courses, workshops, live television programs, advisory services and specific projects to help strengthen critical thinking and give back to culture its role as a generator of knowledge and values.
History of A*DESK
A*DESK was founded, as a digital publication, in 2002 by Montse Badia and David G. Torres: as an international platform for reflection, critical thought and debate about art and its manifestations. In this first stage, which also included Chus Martínez, the magazine, a-desk.org, focussed on reflecting upon criticism and the curating of art, in a very broad sense. For this they compiled a documentary archive, with a good number of articles written by professionals from within the sector specifically for A*DESK. In 2004, the critics and curators, David Armengol and Martí Manen, joined the team, replacing Chus Martínez, to re-launch in February 2006 the online publication, reorganising the bibliographical archive thematically and confronting it with a space for criticism.
Since September 2006 the thematic organisation of the texts has disappeared leaving the magazine open to a broader range of contents and opinions about contemporary art. At the same time, A*DESK began working with educational programmes, organising the first workshops in 2007. These workshops (in Barcelona, Recife, Belo Horizonte, Rosario, Lima, Madrid, Santiago de Compostela…) have made it possible to add new voices to A*DESK and to open up critical opinion to new generations in different contexts.
As a logical consequence of the critical workshops, A*DESK three years later began a programme of Advanced studies oriented towards introducing participants into the professional arena of contemporary art, inviting guests and adding different itineraries and formats.
Since 2008, A*DESK has strengthened its identity as an international and independent platform for the development of critical thought in art. The digital format has made it possible to create a wider distribution, as well as to propose new lines of communication about art, with the incorporation of videos and audio archives of interviews, galleries, photographs, etc.
In 2009, A*DESK was constituted as the Independent Institute for Criticism and Contemporary Art from Barcelona. A*DESK is independent to the extent that it is an initiative of a group of art critics and is not dependent on any other art or public institution; it is an institute because it is dedicated to the formation, publication and development of cultural projects; its mission is the development of critical thought through culture and contemporary art; and it is made in Barcelona, that is to say from its headquarters in Barcelona it develops wide-ranging, open, urban, cosmopolitan and international thought.
In 2012 A*DESK (with a team made up of Montse Badia, David G. Torres, Esther Prat, Marina Vives, Neus Bou, Jo Milne and a large number of permanent collaborators) restructured its content on the web and revitalised its space in Gracia, Barcelona, as a place for presentations, specific events and the development of courses and workshops.
A*DESK is a flexible and evolving platform, with a constant desire to build intergenerational bridges and open up new points of view. In June 2014, the board of A*DESK changed once again, to become Montse Badia, Neus Bou and Marina Vives. In this new phase, there is a renewed focus on independent projects and a return to in-depth reviews, abandoning the daily publications to place a greater emphasis on intensity. Closer ties are developed with editors and reviewers, by establishing A*DESK as an online platform that welcomes and promotes critical reviews, debate and intergenerational collaboration, both at a local and international level. Glòria Guso joined the editorial staff in June 2017 and in November of the same year a new section called Spotlight was launched. Aimed at recovering our taste for the present, it is structured as a critical agenda of salient points.
Since 2018, Josephine Watson has been in charge of translating the articles into English and, since the end of 2018, in collaboration with the University of Barcelona, Etna Ripoll carries out the translations of the articles into Catalan. Since March 2019, in collaboration with the Faculty of Translators and Interpreters of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Andrea Damunt Hernán, Blanca Ortega Laborda, Ivette Verdaguer Fernández, Rubén Fernández Ruiz, Mireia Díaz Castelló and Neus Fernández Salavedra take care of the translations of the Spotlight section into English and/or Catalan. Since 2020, Graham Thomson and Guillem Gómez Sesé also contribute to A*DESK with English translations and since 2021, Kurt Hollander.