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Counter-Institution: Performance and Institutional Critique (TAPS 342)


What are institutions? How do they think? What motivates their actions? What is their relationship to communities and individual artists? Do they promote or constrain free artistic exploration? These are some of the questions that have been animating critique of institutions in Western art over the past several decades. Contemporaneous with performance art, institutional critique transformed and expanded the very idea of this art practice. In asking, for example, how a museum performs, what it performs, and for whom, institutional critique points to its own position inside complex institutional web generated by modern capitalist society. In this class, we will look at sources of institutional critique in the work of Kazimir Malevich and Marcel Duchamp, the representatives of the first generation such as Adrian Piper, Hans Haacke and Art & Language, and the second generation, such as Fred Wilson and Andrea Frazer, to recent engagements with institutional critique by artists such as Hito Steyerl.