Art after Infrastructure: New Models of instituting in the Arts after the global crisis of 2008
How do art and curatorial practices institute social and aesthetic imaginaries? How is this related to infrastructure, and has this changed after the 2008 socio-economic crisis and ensuing changes to the infrastructures and distributions of culture?
Using 2008 as a jumping off point to view infrastructure both affirmatively and negatively, as a boundary condition for artistic and political possibility and failure, I hope to propose a new theoretical tool to analyse instituting after infrastructure.
Specifically, I will examine a series of artistic practices and organisations from across Europe that directly respond to, critique, or re-build at the intersection of technological and social infrastructures. These case studies are situated in key art and infrastructural histories. In particular, the research will be framed by the development of two proposed shifts in art practice and theory: 1) from artistic institutional critique to an infrastructural critique (i.e. from a focus on institutions as vessels of power to the interoperating ecologies of conditions that enable them); and 2) from politically or socially engaged artistic and curatorial practices that critique the institution from within towards those that produce thresholds and disruptions with these to institute anew.
Ultimately, the timeframe explored here sets the practice and organisation of art against an arc of a shifting globalisation, austerity and returning nationalisms. At stake, therefore, is the scope of the institutions of contemporary art to create new political horizons, autonomous space, to generate critique and intervene in or disrupt the infrastructures, cultural policy and spatial politics that enable them.