Alexander Provan

2013–2015 Vera List Center Fellow
Alexander Provan is a writer and editor living in New York City, whose fellowship is part of the Alignment cycle of VLC programs.,

Provan is developing a research project on standards, which will inform an upcoming issue of Triple Canopy, public programs at The New School, and a series of essays to be published as a book. He will consider standards as both liberating and homogenizing forces that facilitate global communication as they bind activities across space, cultures, languages, disciplines, and regimes. Provan will investigate historical and contemporary standards having to do with industrial production and trade, the regulation of time, digital file formats, and the metrics of global governance—seemingly disparate phenomena that together indicate a broad structural shift in the way cultural practices are determined.

Provan will question how the representation of these invisible infrastructures, by incorporating the codes and characteristics of standards, might give rise to new forms of aesthetics and politics, even consciousness. How might one employ the standardizing elements of reading today—whether metadata tags or Library of Congress Classification—in service of illumination and formal innovation? How do the standards governing the circulation and visualization of information online enforce a logic of control? How and where can we meaningfully exploit and resist standardization?

Provan is the editor of Triple Canopy, a magazine and editorial collective based in New York, Los Angeles, and Berlin. He is also a contributing editor of Bidoun, a magazine of the arts and culture of the Middle East and its diaspora. His writing on digital culture, aesthetics, literature, and politics has appeared in Artforum, Frieze, The Nation, Art in America, The Believer, n+1, and Bookforum, among other publications. Provan is the recipient of a 2011 art and research grant from the Centro Cultural Montehermoso Kulturunea,Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, where his project Popular Legacy was exhibited in the summer of 2012.

With Triple Canopy, Provan works on collaborative artistic and literary projects, public programs, print objects, and technological experiments, so as to cultivate a critical perspective on the relationship between technology, culture, and the politics of public space. Triple Canopy is devoted to sustained inquiry and creative research—to making a public, and thus a living culture, one that accumulates and reverberates rather than being bracketed and bucketed, monetized and dispersed. Triple Canopy has recently participated in exhibitions and organized public programs at the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver; Artissima 18, Torino, Italy; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson.