From outside to inside: Changing strategies and practices of institutional critique 1960-2014

Preston, Victoria (2014) From outside to inside: Changing strategies and practices of institutional critique 1960-2014. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

Established accounts of institutional critique either turn it into an art historical genre that is past and finished, or suggest that it is pointless because it is always co-opted by the institution. This thesis contests the canonisation of institutional critique by positing that there has been a change in the agents of critique from the academic critic, to the artist, to the curator. The research also argues against the supposed futility of institutional critique by drawing on Foucault to consider critique in particular instances rather than in general. Thus each case study considers whether or not a particular artwork or project was understood as critical at the time and, if so, in what capacity. In the course of examining the shifts in the critical agent from artist to curator, I also identify a sequence of correlative changes. First there is an expansion in the location of critique from mainstream USA museums to a wide range of art institutions globally, including biennials. Second there is a change of focus in the objects of critique, from the physical attributes of the exhibition spaces to modes of display, museum processes, and the politicisation of content. Third there are different strategies of critique, as artists and curators variously pursue mimetic, subversive and symbolic strategies in their institutional investigations, and develop new ones. Overall, the research demonstrates that institutional critique moves progressively inside the institution, and becomes an embedded activity, particularly when independent curators take up positions as directors of experimental institutions. The thesis concludes that institutional critique has become more politicised and more complex and that some of its strategies and practices have helped to re-function institutions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2014 14:54
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2015 17:37
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/103

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