via Tyler Green's Modern Art Notes (MAN): [an excerpt]
About 10 days ago some friends and I were discussing how much institutional critique-style art we'd seen lately. My blogging compadre Ed Winkleman shows Jennifer Dalton, I recently mentioned Filip Noterdaeme on the blog, and so on. I thought I might do a week's worth of posts on this kind of work. Then someone said: 'You don't have to. There's a show of it that's about to open.' True: Brooklyn's Momenta Art is featuring Air Kissing: An Exhibition of Contemporary Art About the Art World. I asked curator Sasha Archibald if she'd chat with me about it.
MAN: Who is the father of some of this work? Ed Ruscha? Michael Asher? John Baldessari?
Sasha Archibald: Those influences definitely. You can cast a wider net and include Joseph Beuys and Marcel Duchamp. I attended the Whitney Independent Study Program and they definitely have a particular course of study that's unique to that program, which came about in the late seventies and has stayed pretty much the same since then. The big names talked about there are Fred Wilson, Andrea Fraser, and that generation. So in terms of my interest in doing this show, those are the more immediate influences.
You keep mentioning institutional critique -- I don't know if I classify the show as institutional critique. I think of institutional critique as a body of critical theory that stemmed from various movements in the late '80s, early '90s, generally termed "cultural studies." I see it as limited in time. I don't think it's irrelevant, but I think the conventional strategies of institutional critique are shopworn. I'm not sure they're as successful now as they were in the past. I know Fred [Wilson's] work best... he has gone from working in museums where there's a great degree of resistance to what he would come in and do... to where his approach is solicited, welcomed, celebrated.
Earlier you mentioned Jennifer Dalton: I don't think of what Jennifer Dalton is doing as institutional critique exactly, but maybe that's just my training.
MAN: Oh I think they are. Dalton, William Powhida, Elmgreen & Dragset as exploding the idea of institutional critique beyond bricks-and-mortar institutions, and are expanding those ideas and taking them to the entire system, to the entire art world, be it the market or whatever.
Archibald: But William [Powhida's] doing really well. [That's a detail from Powhida's Possible Show Titles.] I looked at his works list from a show in San Francisco and the show had sold out. [Correx from TG: Actually it didn't. Sorry about that.] Then I went to the Schroeder Romero show here in New York and every work but one had sold. And while I was there the gallery attendant was clearly courting a collector and the collector had pulled up a chair to one of his paintings, was reading the painting and slapping her thigh, laughing out loud and totally enjoying herself. I told William, and he took great delight in this, in the irony of the collector being crapped on and enjoying it. But you have to wonder if there's an actual "critique" going on, when there's such viable commercial value. The art world is very savvy now -- savvy enough to know it's better off embracing criticism than resisting it.
MAN: Why does institutional critique have to be commercially unacceptable?
Archibald: I guess my notion of critique is that it has to be unpalatable. It needs to come from a voice that's outside enough and disrupts the ordinary course of things. Maybe that's a more avant garde notion of what change is, but people should resist critique. It shouldn't be welcome. If it's painful to address, the institution's impulse is to ignore or deny or say it's not art, not snap-it-up. If it's as radical as it should be, critique hurts. [At left: Carl Pope.]