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In 2018 Het Nieuwe Instituut embarks on a new programme around the theme of burn-out. The initiative addresses the exhaustion of a growing number of human and other bodies, as a symptom of the presence of exploitative structures within society throughout institutional, political and biological ecologies.

To ‘burn out’ is to stall, break or become otherwise unusable. In other words, processes, procedure and participation simply stop working. Yet, ‘burn-out’ is also an opportunity to break open, promote action and catalyse change towards new structures and relations. How can new, unconventional approaches to research, administration, communications, critical thought and practice be developed and utilised to challenge the inevitability of burn-out? Which other approaches might be considered?

Het Nieuwe Instituut's annual Call for Fellows was organised around this theme and curated with Ramon Amaro (HNI Fellow 2017). The three selected proposals are Welfare Capitalism and the Female Working Body by Elisa Giuliano, How to Read a Story about Burn-Out by Natalie Dixon and The Bodega (aka the avondwinkel) as a site for Archival Practices by Malique Mohamud.

In addition to this year’s fellowship programme, a series of activities and collaborations will shape a public programme. Under the title Life Hacks, a programme curated by Silvio Lorusso, and organised jointly by Het Nieuwe Instituut and Piet Zwart MA Experimental Publishing, will explore various approaches and techniques that people adopt to design or redesign their lives. The programme looks at self-optimisation and re-invention, against the backdrop of growing labour precarity and an intensified entrepreneurial regime.

A series of performative and participatory Warm-Up and Anti-Burn-Out activities will run alongside the weekly Thursday Night Live! programme, learning from the notions of radical empathy and collective care.

Burn-Out builds upon the long-term research on changing labour conditions and ethos addressed through Automated Landscapes and Work, Body, Leisure.