International Necronautical Society (INS)




Founded in 1999 by Tom McCarthy, the International Necronautical Society (INS) is an expansive, networked organisation that slides between the worlds of art, fiction, philosophy and media. 'Famously described as "replaying the avant-garde along the faultline of death"' (Art Monthly, London), the INS is formed through the appropriation and repurposing of a variety of art forms and cultural 'moments', in particular the now-defunct structures and procedures of early twentieth century avant-gardes (the manifesto, autocratic top-down management etc.) and political, corporate or conspiratorial organisations (the Soviet-style committee, sub-committee and sub-sub-committee, Hearings, Inspectorates, Reports etc.).


The INS spreads itself as both conceit and actuality (often blurring these into one another) and has become widely known through exhibitions, publications, residencies and events such as:

Launch of the First INS Manifesto by General Secretary Tom McCarthy, London

First First Committee Hearings, Lux Gallery, London

INS Residency, Office of Anti-Matter, Austrian Cultural Institute, London

INS Residency, DasArts Foundation, Amsterdam

General Secretary's First Report to First Committee: Navigation Was Always a Difficult Art, published by Vargas Organisation, London and delivered at Royal Geographical Society, London

Second First Committee Hearings: Transmission, Death, Technology, Cubitt Gallery, London

Proclamation: First Committee Purges

General Secretary's Second Report to First Committee: Calling All Agents, published by Vargas Organisation, London and delivered at Institute of Contemporary Arts, London

Calling All Agents: INS Broadcasting Unit, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London

INS Inspectorate Berlin: Advance Reconnaissance, Sparwasser HQ, Berlin

INS Inspectorate Berlin: Aerial Reconnaissance, Sparwasser HQ, Berlin



The INS's current concerns include encryption and transmission, inscription and erasure, surveillance and death.

'It is possible to think of the INS as a cultural narrative, a viral entity that exists due to a growing number of participants and collaborations with fellow artists and writers. Many people fail to see the point of the INS's weird research and read it as an ironic joke or a ridiculous mission of mapping death in the style of an expedition ... Without addressing allegations of necrophilia [the INS] considers death only as a space of representation, a realm to be explored and brought out by means of a set of practices such as drawings, maps, texts and speeches (craft as the INS calls it) ... As a tactical and philosophical hybrid between Futurist farce and agit-prop manipulation of the communications network, the INS functions as a complete artwork. The combination of anachronistic artistic models like the manifesto ... the recuperation of discourses obsessed by control structures (governmental agencies, secret services, party committees) all represent a parody of a totalising project about knowledge, not death.' (Untitled, London)

'... it generally stands as a cipher for the outer limit of description, for the point at which the code breaks down-a point that is often alive, as McCarthy points out, with secret desires ... It seems that this is what the INS stands for: a horror of finished truths and a compulsive probing of the possibilities and failures of language ... The INS is a group of rogue agents who have infiltrated the worlds of art, literary criticism and philosophy. (Art Monthly, London)