Faced with waning state support, declining revenue, and forced entrepreneurialism, museums have become a threatened public space. Simultaneously, they have assumed the role of institutional arbiter in issues of social justice and accountability. The canon of Institutional Critique has responded to the social embeddedness of art institutions by looking at the inner workings of such organisations and has found them wanting.

In After Institutions, Karen Archey expands the definition of Institutional Critique to develop a broader understanding of contemporary art’s sociopolitical entanglements, looking beyond what cultural institutions were to what they are and what they might become.

Karen Archey speaks to Pierre d’Alancaisez about the histories and futures of Institutional Critique, the museum’s neoliberal catch-22, and about an exhibition that didn’t happen.

Karen Archey is Curator of Contemporary Art at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Formerly based in Berlin and New York, she worked earlier as an independent curator, editor, and art critic, writing for publications such as Artforum and frieze.

Join my newsletter

If you’re enjoying my work, sign up for occasional updates.