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Friday March 15 | Session 16:30 - 18:00 (20 min)
De Brakke Grond | Grote Zaal

The paper deals with the question of institutional critique in relation to participatory art. It reflects on the conundrums of institutional critique, exploring the formation of participatory art forms as emergent from the critique of mainstream art institutions. It compares a number of approaches to institutional critique citing recent examples from different parts of the world. Sometimes the gesture of critique consists in building counter-institutions, and sometimes in fleeing them. Institutional critique, understood as the explicit use of an artistic practice to interrogate, oppose or break out of art institutional frameworks has very asymmetrical trajectories across the world and across domains. The paper argues that the changing institutional conditions of participation expose not just the norms of a certain institution, but also its specific traditions of institutional critique. Whereas in European art practices, it is often assumed to be necessary to be anti-institutional to be critical, the paper argues that in many parts of the world, the role artists and participatory art works in building and sustaining institutions has been the hallmark of critical practice. 

Sruti Bala is Associate Professor in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her research interests are at the crossroads of theatre and performance theory, cultural analysis, post-colonial theories and feminism. She is Principal Investigator of the five-year NWO-funded research project "Gendered and Sexual Citizenship in the Dutch Caribbean" in co-operation with the University of Curaçao. She is also part of a long-term research collaboration with the University of Cape Town investigating translation in theatre and performance against the backdrop of global asymmetries. The paper is drawn from her recent publication "The Gestures of Participatory Art" (Manchester University Press, 2018).
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