The Contemporary Artists’ Intervention as an Apparatus of Critique of the Contested Modern Museum

The Contemporary Artists’ Intervention as an Apparatus of Critique of the Contested Modern Museum

One strand of my research concerns the connection between the present and the past, which I chose to investigate in detail during my MA through the specific activity of the artist’s intervention in the museum.  I am particularly interested in this method of curating and positioning of contemporary and historical artworks and objects, both physically and conceptually.

The abstract of this paper is as follows:

This paper examines the artist’s intervention as an apparatus of critique of the museum in modernity (and its contestations). Whilst much other research has focused on the impact such projects for museum and artist, this paper specifically addresses the methods of critique used by artists to critique characteristics of the museum as a modern institution. This ranges from examining collections and collecting practices to instigating a new or alternative narrative in the museum space. 

Examples including Eduardo Paolozzi’s Lost Magic Kingdoms (1985) at the Museum of Mankind, Sophie Calle’s Appointment (1999) at the Freud Museum and Grayson Perry’s Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman (2011) at the British Museum are used to examine the artist’s intervention as a critique of the modern museum. This research is contextualised in institutional critique and museum history, engaging with the discourse of modernity in particular. The intervention has become an important curatorial strategy for both artists and museums by producing new ways of looking at both the institution and the past.

This thesis is held in the library at Chelsea College of Art & Design.


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