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Title: From outside to inside : changing strategies and practices of institutional critique 1960-2014
Author: Preston, Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0004 5365 0541
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available