Casco is an open and public space for artistic research and experiments. We consider artistic practice as a way of engaging with the world we live in and as an investigative, imaginative, and inventive practice.
The artistic practices we focus on are cross-disciplinary, open to collaboration and process driven. Our work traverses design, theory, and the wider social sphere. Correspondingly, our activities encompass not only exhibitions, but also research, production, applications, workshops, forums, debates, actions, performances, screenings, education, and publishing. Central to these activities is the support for artist-led projects and other collaborative initiatives, initiating long-term visionary research projects, and fostering meaningful partnerships. Above all, we are committed to sharing with our varied publics both the process and the results of these initiatives in a variety of forms.
Founded in 1990, we are located in the city of Utrecht with its over 300,000 inhabitants in the heart of the Netherlands. The local urban environment, including its various communities, histories, and contemporary development, is the field of our engagement. Integrating this location into our work with artists and other practitioners from around the world, we actively take part in international social and artistic development in various formal and informal networks crossing all levels, local, national, and international.
The aim of our work is to contribute to forming non-capitalist cultures and possibilities for life for which we believe art could play an essential role, not as an insular avant-garde but in alignment with other initiatives and social movements. Instead of accumulation, alienation, apathy, and competition, a culture that we envision is comprised of sharing, caring, and living and working together. In this light, we see our organization and space as a micro society that might reflect such vision. It’s a tough but worthwhile venture.
Casco was directed by Lisette Smits from 1996 to 2005. She was succeeded by Emily Pethick in August 2005; in June 2008, Binna Choi took over and is the current director.
Casco’s first building was a storefront on Oudegracht, a busy commercial street in Utrecht. In January 2007, Casco moved to the Nieuwekade on the edge of the city center with a moderately bigger space. The interior structure was designed by Berlin-based designers ifau (institute for applied urbanism) and Jesko Fezer, and later by London-based artist Nils Norman. More than triple the size of Casco’s existing space, the new premise is a nineteenth-century school building and former convent located in the Museum Quarter of Utrecht, alongside the historic courtyard Abraham Dolehof. The space is designed by architects Jesko Fezer and Andreas Müller in collaboration with designer Maximilian Weydringer. Multiplying the motif of the arch as a recurring element in the building as well as an important support structure in architecture, the architects designed a new “grand arcade” running through the space differentiating work and meeting spaces, the library, and an indoor garden.