The popularity of Institutional Critique – the artistic practice which takes the management of museums and galleries as its subject – has waxed and waned since artists like Michael Asher in the 1970s began to rearrange gallery walls and floors as though the fabric of the exhibition space was more interesting than the artefacts. Touliatou’s intervention at PEER – stripping a section of drywall, moving a door, and altering the gallery’s location on Google Maps – returns to this tradition as though nothing had changed in the meantime.
She has a point: the very purpose of art institutions is once again in question. But can Institutional Critiques’ failed experiments produce different results today? Touliatou’s twist takes her to the museum store where she assembled a collection of dozens of ceramic figurines of Jennings Dogs, the ornamental canine guardians found in the gardens of suburban homes whose 2nd-century Roman predecessor belongs to the British Museum. These gestures remind the gallery that it is a social space in which the vernacular should be at home. Unfortunately, they also inadvertently point to the gallery’s sorry end: art-free but dog-friendly.