On art, community and Institutional Structure


While reading the different articles assigned for this week, I was really moved by the idea of art as a tool for liberation from institutional structure. Artistic production has always defied existing norms and practices, pushing the boundaries of existing conditions in society, culture, politics or even art itself. But when art becomes a participatory act, moving communities from contemplation to utilization, the results can be much more meaningful and even emancipatory.

Suzanne Lacy’s The Oakland Project is one of the best examples of this, moving away from aesthetic and moral norms as a way to rebel against the institutional structure. The artist developed a long-term project that involved high school students from the local community, using the city’s infrastructure and local television network as spaces for art purposes while allowing these people to have a voice within society.

Rirkrit Tiravanija’s work Pad Thai and others described in Claire Bishop’s text, on the other hand, operates from the inside of museums and galleries by blurring the distinction between institutional and social space, giving people the possibility to break the social structure imposed inside this kind of places. His rebellion doesn’t really liberate from the institutional structure, because the institution (the museum) supports and hosts the exhibition, but he manages to resignify the space to create a new experience for its community.

This idea of art is a social form and an emancipatory tool seems very relevant to our work inside of ITP, where we use new media and digital technologies to create projects based on interaction, socialization and reinvention of physical spaces. By the social and creative appropriation of these technologies, we are allowing new forms of expression using the same mechanisms that once were used only by institutional spaces and Societies of Control, acquiring the potential to become both political and self-liberating.

Read the articles here:

Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics by Claire Bishop
Postscript on the Societies of Control by Gilles Deleuze
Roof is on Fire by Suzanne Lacy

Leave a Reply