The Institutionalisation of Critique? – Artists’ interventions in the field of heritage

Session Convenors:

Nick Cass (Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage; University of Leeds)

Joanne Williams (Leeds University Library Galleries)

Please email your paper proposal to the session convenors using the Paper Proposal Form


Works of artistic intervention, such as the now seminal works by Hans Haacke, Fred Wilson and Andrea Fraser, made visible the institutional politics of authorised discourses within museums and galleries, disrupting systems of power and knowledge production. Hal Foster theorised these earlier forms of critical intervention with respect to the paradigm of ‘artist as ethnographer’ (1995), echoed in James Clifford’s analysis of interventions as a site-specific ethnographies which ‘decentred established centres of art and cultural production and display’ (2000). More recently, Claire Robins interrogated the pedagogic potential of interventions in museum- and gallery-based learning where they are called upon to perform interpretive tasks (2013).

While it has become increasingly common to encounter contemporary artworks in local and national museums, country houses and landscapes, these projects are often subsumed within organisational and curatorial strategies as alternative forms of interpretation or as elements of audience development in heritage contexts. Andrea Fraser conveyed concerns regarding the consequences of the ‘institutionalisation of institutional critique’ and the resulting necessity to re-examine the history and aims of this form of art practice as a means by which the urgent stakes of the present can be restated (Fraser, 2005). This panel will bring together artists, art historians, and museum and gallery professionals, in response to Fraser’s call to action. It welcomes papers that bring into contact contemporary and historical aesthetic discourses, cultural policy, and current concerns of museum and heritage practice, in order to explore the possibilities of artistic critique and intervention within the contemporary cultural and political landscape.

Submit a paper

Please email your paper proposals direct to the session convenors above, using the Paper Proposal Form

You need to provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any).

Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because the title is what appears online, in social media and in the printed programme.

You should receive an acknowledgement receipt of your submission within two weeks from the session convenors.

Deadline for submissions: Monday 21 October 2019

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