Melanie Bühler: KRITIK. Institutional Critique in the Age of Networked Capitalism (11.12.2019)
Institutional Critique is commonly defined as an art practice that questions, comments on, and criticizes the institutions involved in the production, display and commerce of art (e.g. museums, galleries, auction houses, artists‘ studios, the art market, and art criticism). Increasingly, though, it has become hard to define what these institutions specifically constitute as art institutions. Indeed, one may validly question if we can still talk of art as constituting a separate sphere in society. On the one hand, museums have been forced to become more and more attuned to a commercial rationale. On the other, ideas and strategies native to the art sector are quickly swallowed up by a broader visual economy. This development has been intensified and accelerated by the increasingly image-driven culture of social media. Thus, while many art institutions align themselves more and more with profit-oriented thinking, artistic strategies have become influential in a wider social and economic field, their competencies repackaged as cultural capital. Curation has become a lifestyle term, museums become drivers for tourism, art districts foster gentrification, and artists are hailed as Instagram influencers, while being sponsored by luxury brands.
Melanie Bühler is the curator contemporary art at the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem (NL) since 2018. Prior to this, she worked as an independent curator. Recent exhibitions include Noise! Frans Hals, Otherwise (Frans Hals Museum, 2018), Photography Today: Private Public Relations (Pinakothek der Moderne, 2017), Inflected Objects –an exhibition series at Future Gallery, Berlin; De Hallen Haarlem (both 2016) and Swiss Institute Milan (2015). She is the founder and curator of Lunch Bytes (2010-2015) — a project on digital art and culture for which she collaborated with Art Basel; CCA, Glasgow; ICA, London; and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. a.o. She is the editor of No Internet, No Art (Onomatopee 2015), co-edited The Transhistorical Museum(Valiz, 2018) and her writings have appeared in various exhibition catalogues. She contributed a series of texts on photography and digital culture to Fotomuseum Winterthur’s research platform Still Searchingand has written for Metropolis M and Mousse Magazine.