A project by the Frans Hals Museum and Studium Generale Rietveld Academie, curated by Melanie Bühler, supported by the Goethe-Institut
This website is part of the project The Art of Critique, a collaboration between the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem and Studium Generale Rietveld Academie, supported by the Goethe-Institut Amsterdam.
The initial project would have consisted of a series of events in which students of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie would have actively participated. The events would have taken place in the exhibition space of the Frans Hals Museum to accompany the exhibitions of The Art of Critique: Image Power, Representation Critique and Structure Critique.
As it is no longer possible to come together for events like these in the flesh, we have moved the project online.
The Online Environment
This online environment, in which you can experience the first exhibition Image Power, that was on view at the Frans Hals Museum between March and September 2020, is part of the project that asks what constitutes a practice of Institutional Critique today.
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, art academies, auction houses, artists’ studios, the art market, and art criticism). The exhibition series links the embodied, feminist forms of critique of Andrea Fraser, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas (in the collection of the Frans Hals Museum) to those employed by artists working today.
Just as the practices of Institutional Critique point to the conditions under which art is shown, the online environment created by Giulia Bierens De Haan, graduation student Graphic Design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, questions how we display information about artworks by using a series of categories, commonly used in the museum context, as a structure to display information about them. Through these categories, one can experience the exhibition Image Power. By having these categories so explicitly brought out in the open, one becomes also aware, however, that ordering information is never a neutral act but always preconditioned on how the world is viewed in a larger sense.
On the exhibition project The Art of Critique
The artistic movement of Institutional Critique feels particularly urgent today, as we are witnessing an intense moment of “institutional critique” in society at large: fueled by social media, the critique of institutions – think of phenomena like #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and the large scale climate protests – is practiced everywhere with an intensity and at a scale that feels unmatched.
At the same time, one can question whether it still makes sense to treat the art world as a separate institutional field now that art institutions align themselves more and more with profit-oriented thinking and impulses generated within the art field are quickly swallowed up by a larger creative industry.
Taking into account these developments, The Art of Critique asks what constitutes a practice of Institutional Critique today.
Institutional Critique Today
March 7 until September 27, 2020
Frans Hals Museum, location Hal
Image Power – the first chapter of the exhibition trilogy The Art of Critique – is a group exhibition featuring twenty international artists whose work questions the role of art in our image-driven age of social media and political unrest.
What does art have to do with the 100 million images posted on Instagram every day? The past years have seen the rapid integration of technology into both everyday life and, simultaneously, the art field. Museums have gone from advertising strict no-photograph policies to welcoming selfies and suggesting hashtags. Museum collections that were once only accessible through restricted internal databases are now fully searchable online, and users are encouraged to like and share as much as possible. While the latter example suggests a process of democratization, the former perhaps also allows us to imagine museums being reduced to mere “content farms” in the service of social media.
Online communication has become more and more visual, and visual codes have become increasingly sophisticated. New platforms have emerged that place a greater focus on images than their predecessors. We have gone from blogs to Facebook and from Instagram, via Snapchat, to TikTok. Images are everywhere. How does the field of art, which has traditionally been the domain of image production, relate to these platforms? And how is it being reshaped by them? Artworks by Dena Yago, Gina Beavers, FLAME, Jaakko Pallasvuo and Louis Ashcroft thematize important aspects of this new landscape and the role and function of art therein.
Many works in Image Power show that the consequences of art and its institutions – meaning art history, artists and museums – reach beyond the world of art alone, that they also affect society in a larger sense. The artworks also show that the opposite applies too. Some artworks draw from the ways critique is presently voiced elsewhere and apply this to the sphere of art: they bring the strategies of the #MeToo movement to art history (Betty Tompkins), for instance, or use the figure of the whistle-blower as a stand in for the critical artist (Nora Turato). Many of the artworks challenge their own status as artworks as they also relate to and draw from other fields such as fashion, or the world of consumption and luxury.
A Maior (founded in 2011, Portugal) // Louise Ashcroft (1983, England, lives in London) // Gina Beavers (1978, Greece, lives in NYC) // Tony Cokes (1956 US, lives in Rhode Island) // Tracey Emin (1963, England, lives in London) // FLAME (artist duo founded in Brussels in 2010, lives in Berlin) // Sylvie Fleury (1961, Switzerland, lives in Geneva) // Andrea Fraser (1965, USA, lives in Los Angeles and New York) // Florence Jung (1986, France / Switzerland, lives in Paris) // Sarah Lucas (1962 England, lives in London) // Marlon Mullen (1963, USA, lives in Richmond) // Ima-Abasi Okon (1981, England, lives in London and Amsterdam) // Jaakko Pallasvuo (1987, Finland, lives in Helsinki) // Heji Shin (1976 Korea, lives in Berlin) // Cole Speck (1991, Canada, lives in Alert Bat, BC) // Tenant of Culture (1990, The Netherlands, lives in London) // Betty Tompkins (1945 USA, lives in New York) // Nora Turato (1991, Croatia, lives in Amsterdam) // Christine Wang (1985, USA, lives in San Francisco) // Dena Yago (1988, USA, lives in New York)
In the museum shop a special edition of a T-shirt by PMS (a project by the artist Marlie Mul) is available (PMS stands for “Premenstrual Syndrome”)
The Art of Critique consists of three exhibitions: after Image Power, of which the digital version is still online, the second exhibition is planned for the autumn of 2021 in the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem. Until then, The Art of Critique is expanding the online program with a monthly new video contribution that matches the themes of the project. (See INFO)
news news news From November 15 there is a monthly video upload with work by artists that will remain online for 30 days. This gives everyone the chance to see video works that are usually only accessible by visiting the museum.
November 15th - December 15th: “Dead Relevant“ by Louise Ashcroft.
Louise Ashcroft (UK, 1983) was commissioned by the Frans Hals Museum to create a new work for the exhibition Image Power; Institutional Critique Today. Ashcroft accessed the museum through the images and videos on its website and in its online collection. She links the yields of these visits with other snippets of online information to create a collaged story. The shameless use of images – pulling them out of context, cropping, splitting, reconfiguring them and mashing them up – is a fundamental characteristic of contemporary internet culture, and of memes in particular. The work raises questions about image rights, the ability of museums to take care of the legacy of their art collections, and how both of these concerns collide with a contemporary image culture in which images can be shaped and used as pleased. The work alludes to the bottomless contextless-ness that the internet seems to produce and the freedom that this allows when it comes to finding new meanings and relations.
More information coming soon.
May/June 2020, Online
On the online circulation of images, the museum as “content farm” and the role of critique as part of this environment.
With: Louise Ashcroft (artist, London) and Fritha Jenkins (artist, London), FLAME (artist duo, Berlin) and Shama Khanna (curator/writer, London).
May 15, 2020 at 3pm: Live Performance Concrete Conversation by Louise Ashcroft and Fritha Jenkins.
Warped speech, broken eye contact and frozen facial expressions have infuriated our screen-based communications since the pandemic struck. But how might we use images to more inventively communicate our physical and emotional experiences through our screens? In this performance, Louise Ashcroft will have an image-based conversation with her best friend (and occasional collaborator) Fritha Jenkins using the Zoom video conferencing platform. The subject of their conversation is the Frans Hals Museum online collection, with works and interpretations being evoked and interpreted through odd sculptural gestures and object collages improvised with domestic clutter in their own homes at opposite sides of London. E.g. Pasta tongs become the jaws of a dog in a 17th century painting.
June 5, 2020: Presentation Flatness - Attempting to Decentre Power by curator and critic
Shama Khanna will talk about the different forms of criticality enacted by her long-running curatorial platform, Flatness. The attempt of this multi-format project and website www.flatness.eu is to reconstitute the terms and conditions under which artworks are produced and framed: aiming to reduce feelings of exhaustion, overexposure and compulsion. Drawing on pre-Web 2.0 online histories combined with a reflexive interest in the desires of artists working semi-digitally, Flatness presents a more porous context for artworks to be shared as part of a genuinely networked culture.
June 12, 2020: Presentation FLAME - How the Invisible Hand of the Internet interferes with Art
FLAME will be talking about their three paintings in the current exhibition at the Frans Hals Museum which are part of their series called Art Stacks. Art Stacks are sets of appropriations of canonized artworks as seen and reconfigured through the lens of an automated mind. The lecture will offer some thoughts about the changing perceptions of art on the Internet and how art itself is being molded into its ever narrowing suggestions. FLAME is Taslima Ahmed and Manuel Gnam, two artists currently living in Berlin.
- Image Power (March 7 - September 27 2020)
- Structure Critique (November 2021- February 2022)
- Representation Critique (Spring 2022)
by Louise Ashcroft.
More information coming soon.
June 12, 2020: How the Invisible Hand of the Internet interferes with Art -performance/presentation by artist duo FLAME, can be watched here.
June 5, 2020: Presentation Flatness - Attempting to Decentre Power
presentation by curator and critic Shama Khanna, can be watched here.
May 15, 2020: Concrete Conversation by Louise Ashcroft and Fritha Jenkins, a recording of the live performance can be watched here.