Haapalainen, Riikka: An institution and a mock institution – two case studies on the critique of public presentation of art

In 1968, ’ the Museum Director’ Marcel Broodthaers, Belgian conceptual artist, send a press release to inform of a new museum, Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles (Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles). The actual press conference was later held in the living room of Broodthaers’ Brussels home, which was decorated with wooden art shipping boxes, museum stationaries, and postcard reproductions of French 19th century paintings. Only art was missing.

In 2001, Jakob Jakobsen and Henriette Heise published a newsletter announcing the launch of a new university, Det Fri Universitet i Københav (Copenhagen Free University). The university with its gallery spaces and artist residencies was part of their ordinary and material domestic life for six years. In 2011, the university activities were re-launched in the Trauma 1-11 retrospective exhibition in the Roskilde Art Museum. Only images were missing. Even if more than three decades and different artistic climate separate these two art projects, they are both about the same. They actively challenge the normative and hegemonic ways in which art is exhibited and knowledge on art is produced. Their main criticism focuses on the defining power possessed by art institutions, and on the structures that support and maintain the power: how social, political and economic interests actively define and legitimize the practices of art. In this paper, I critically discuss the methods of these two activist art projects and their means to generate institutional critique and post-representational exhibiting practices.