Contemporary Art Again and Again: Formal and Informal Institutionalism
Lecture by Suhail Malik
“The ‘artworld’ could become more formalized … but most people who are interested in art would probably consider this a bad thing. Such formality would threaten the freshness and exuberance of art.” George Dickie
The current formation of contemporary art is characterised by two variants. On the one hand, art is a blatant mechanism of elite formation revolving around cliques operating via museums, galleries, curators, exhibiting artists, writers, collectors, celebrities, schmoozers, and other power players. On the other hand, art is to be reclaimed against such formal institutions of art and elite formation, and maximally so when it is indistinct from other areas of social practice, even to the point where the designation of ‘art’ is superfluous. With this expansive variant, art is freshest and most exuberant when ‘Art = Reality’.
But does it then maintain its status as art? Can it? Should it?