Die Nachleben der Institutionskritik

Hannes Loichinger
Fine Arts and Media Art, Painting
2020W, artistic Seminar (SEK), 2.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S03450


English title: "The Afterlives of Institutional Critique"

In his essay "From Work to Frame" (1987), art critic Craig Owens wrote that reflections on the division of labor, the manifold 'frames' of art, and the institutional critique of the 1960s and 1970s will undoubtedly appear to many readers as "ancient history." He nevertheless insisted on these developments and an ongoing analysis of the "lookers, buyers, dealers, makers" (Martha Rosler) involved in artistic production. Owens argued that this analysis lays the groundwork for a materialist cultural practice that "subverts and subordinates to itself the conditions from which it stems." This practice, Owens continued, requires constant renewal, since social developments have effects in the artistic field—and new positions from which artists can produce critical work emerge.

Accompanied by countless "birth pangs and the incessant deathbed proclamations" (Julia Bryan-Wilson), the history of practices informed by institutional critique—which 'began' with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Gustave Caillebotte, Marcel Duchamp, or the Conceptual Art of the 1960s / 1970s—, continues to the present day; trapped between the poles of activism and aesthetic practice. On the occasion of Hans Haacke's retrospective „All Connected“ (24.10.19–26.01.20) at the New Museum in New York, the art historian James Meyer was prompted to make the following statement: „Perhaps the real story of institutional critique at present is its migration from the aesthetic to the non-aesthetic sphere—the protests and boycotts by artists and museum employees in response to the perceived inequities and hypocrisies of institutions that present themselves as serving the public interest.“

In the seminar a selection of canonical works and texts on institutional critique will be discussed with the objective to work out the terms and conceptual frameworks relevant to this discourse. By comparing different genealogies, we will try to develop insights into contemporary forms of institutional (or infrastructural) critique.

Examination Modalities

Conditions for participation: attendance on a regular basis; an interest in reading and joint debate; a presentation on one of the artists/texts/topics discussed in the seminar

Credit points: for writing (1) a paper, (2) an assignment combining practical and theoretical elements, or (3) a practical work. If the enrolled students are interested, we can also decide on producing a publication that brings together the materials as well as the results of the seminar.


Course language is English. Further information will follow at the beginning of the winter term.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


06 October 2020, 12:00–14:00, "Project room, painting department, Oskar-Kokoschka-Platz 2, Schwanzer Trakt, 6th floor, room 623 "
13 October 2020, 12:00–14:00
20 October 2020, 12:00–14:00
27 October 2020, 12:00–14:00
03 November 2020, 12:00–14:00
10 November 2020, 12:00–14:00
17 November 2020, 12:00–14:00
24 November 2020, 12:00–14:00
01 December 2020, 12:00–14:00
08 December 2020, 12:00–14:00
15 December 2020, 12:00–14:00
22 December 2020, 12:00–14:00
29 December 2020, 12:00–14:00
05 January 2021, 12:00–14:00
12 January 2021, 12:00–14:00
19 January 2021, 12:00–14:00
26 January 2021, 12:00–14:00

Course Enrolment

From 14 September 2020, 12:00 to 30 September 2020, 23:59
Via online registration

co-registration: possible

TransArts - Transdisciplinary Arts (Bachelor): Artistic and art technology foundations

Fine Arts (2. Section): Writing and Talking about Art, Contextualising Own Artistic Work

Fine Arts (2. Section): Free Electives out of Artistic and Research Practice

Individual courses: possible