readings for Oct 2nd

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"Have we actually done better at playing our part in a system we have chosen to enter than our
predecessors did, or have we failed to do better than they did or even as well as we could."
The institutional critique impulse not only ties into the desire for a positively productive "re- socialization" of their own activities going beyond the boundaries of the art field, but also into the impulse to critically query one's own role as an artist and the forms of artistic self-confinement. Adrian Piper succinctly formulated the task of self-criticism that becomes apparent in this essay.
Adrian Piper argues in her essay "Power Relations within Existing Art Institutions" that the decision to take on the identity of an artist is preconditioned by a degree of economic comfort and privilege. Youth coming from less financially stable families are more likely to pursue practical professions such as engineering and law. The socioeconomically determined aesthetic interests of these fortunate individuals consequently define not only what is quality art, but even what counts as art. I am curious to what degree this is true and the popular, romanticized image of the "starving artist" is false. There should be a study done on the most expensive/influential contemporary artists and their socio-economic backgrounds, and whether there is a correlation between the two.
Adrian Piper is also very much concerned with the spectator's position and relation to the artwork, but the pieces she produces are addressed directly to the spectator in a much more personal and confrontational manner.
Piper's text, positions itself from the point of view of the Museum's social and political relations with its public. Right off she says: 'Galleries and museums are public spaces. Public spaces are political arenas in which power is gained, recognized, underwritten, disputed, attacked, lost, and gained.' So consequently she states that: 'Galleries and museums are political arenas in which strategies of confrontation and avoidance are calculated, diplomacy is practiced, and weaponry tested, all in the service of divergent, and often conflicting, interests.' While these strategies also encompass the architectural and institutional aspects that Buren often deals with, in her works and texts Piper turns the attention directly on the user: 'We who collaborate in perpetrating the existence of galleries and museums are not spectators but participants, not audiences but players, planning and executing tactics for our own self-interests. 'Indeed a large part of her text is taken up with statements about how the power relationships stabilized by Galleries and Museums are starting to become unstable due to the actions of artists, critics and audiences.

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