Art and Contemporary Critical Practice: Reinventing by Gerald Raunig, Gene Ray, Hito Steyerl

By Gerald Raunig, Gene Ray, Hito Steyerl

‘Institutional critique’ is healthier recognized during the serious perform that built within the overdue Nineteen Sixties and early Nineteen Seventies by means of artists who offered radical demanding situations to the museum and gallery approach. considering then it's been driven in new instructions by way of new generations of artists registering and responding to the worldwide modifications of latest lifestyles. The essays gathered during this quantity discover this legacy and strengthen the versions of institutional critique in ways in which pass well past the sphere of paintings. Interrogating the transferring kinfolk among ‘institutions’ and ‘critique’, the participants to this quantity research the earlier and current of institutional critique and suggest strains of destiny improvement. enticing with the paintings of philosophers and political theorists reminiscent of Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Gilles Deleuze, Antonio Negri, Paolo Virno and others, those essays ponder the mutual enrichments among serious paintings practices and social routine and complex the stipulations for politicized serious perform within the twenty-first century.

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A vacant white room with lights is still a submission to the neutral […] The function of the warden-curator is to separate art from the rest of society. Next comes integration. Once the work of art is totally neutralized, ineffective, abstracted, safe, and politically lobotomized, it is ready to be consumed by society. (Smithson, 2001: 16) It would be too simple to reduce the scope of Smithson’s criticism to the museum-bound forms of representation and curatorship that it directly refers to. The operative structure that it describes, namely the ‘political lobotomization’ of the potential charge of artistic works that follows from isolation and neutralizing reintegration, can also be observed often enough where art works in public space, intended as political interventions, only provoke meager debates about art or occasionally about cultural policies, instead of really triggering the intended political discussions.

In either of its historical emergences, institutional critique was a practice mainly, if not exclusively, conducted 29 Simon Sheikh by artists, and directed against the (art) institutions, as a critique of their ideological and representative social function(s). Art’s institutions, which may or may not contain the artists’ work, were seen, in the words of Robert Smithson, as spaces of ‘cultural confinement’ and circumscription, and thus as something to attack aesthetically, politically and theoretically.

While I would certainly agree with any attempt to view art institutions as part of a larger ensemble of socio-economic and disciplinary spaces, I am nonetheless confused by the simultaneous attempt to integrate the art world into the current (politico-economic) world system and the 30 Notes on Institutional Critique upholding of a ‘we’ of the art world itself. Who exactly is this ‘we’? If the art world is seen as part of a generalized institutionalization of social subjects (that in turn internalizes the institutionalization), what and where are the demarcation lines for entry, for visibility and representation?

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