Research Tools

Extradisciplinary Investigations

Towards a New Critique of Institutions

Gov’t Office in Baku (Ursula Biemann, Black Sea Files)

The artistic frame has expanded beyond the border of the painting, beyond the perimeter of the gallery or museum. Now it encompasses the entire society, where each artistic intervention is a catalyst of awareness and a pointer toward possible change. But how does that society work, of what does it consist? To fulfill the promise of a socially transformative art, we need the research tools of extradisciplinary investigations.


What is the logic, the need or the desire that pushes more and more artists to work outside the limits of their own discipline, defined by the notions of free reflexivity and pure aesthetics, incarnated by the gallery-magazine-museum circuit, and haunted by the memory of the normative genres, painting and sculpture?

Pop art, conceptual art, body art, performance and video each marked a rupture of the disciplinary frame, already in the 1960-70s. But one could argue that these dramatized outbursts merely imported themes, media or expressive techniques back into what Yves Klein had termed the “specialized” ambiance of the gallery or the museum, qualified by the primacy of the aesthetic and managed by the functionaries of art. Exactly such arguments were launched by Robert Smithson in his text on cultural confinement in 1972, then restated by Brian O’Doherty in his theses on the ideology of the white cube.1 They still have a lot of validity. Yet now we are confronted with a new series of outbursts, under such names as, bio art, visual geography, space art and database art – to which one could add an archi-art, or art of architecture, which curiously enough has never been baptized as such, as well as a machine art that reaches all the way back to 1920s constructivism, or even a “finance art” whose birth was announced in the Casa Encendida of Madrid just last summer.

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