Department of Fine Art
Examining the operations of artists within institutions and the potential for care under capitalism.
I am interested in the relationship between artist and institution, specifically when an artist is given power and agency to reform an institution’s structure for a period of time. For some independent institutions this deployment of power could be understood as a “de-professionalised” return to their origins as artist-founded spaces, for others it may indicate a more radical desire to scrutinise their operations and address their position in capitalist and/or colonial systems. Either way, it coincides, more broadly, with a greater awareness on behalf of art institutions of their complicity within the very systems they may seek to critique on a programmatic level.
In recent years a small number of independent institutions have redefined relationships between the artist and the institution by inviting artists into their organisation in long-term positions of power.
As an embodied strategy, this may hold potential for the radical reform of art institutions whereby artists — upon whose “decommodified labour” institutions depend — are given power to determine the structures, budgets, and operations of those very same institutions. At the same time, this strategy requires scrutiny as the employment of artists in these positions of critique may also further extract their value, while bolstering the credibility of the institution and its waged workers therein.
Post 2020, the institutions of art are facing a crisis of purpose, as well as a reduction of resources. This current moment necessitates new, non-extractive models of instituting.
It is the purpose of this research project, therefore, to examine the operations of artists within institutions as a potential strategy of care under capitalism, and address the institutions of art as non-neutral sites of power and privilege.