“Institutional Garbage” is a constellation of events, documents and online spaces that, taken together, comprises the “administrative residue” of imaginary exhibitions. Itself supported by a variety of institutions (Green Lantern Press, the Hyde Park Art Center, Sector 2337, Every house has a door), the project has a website as its primary home. Correspondingly, this review will treat the site, its contents and its form of presentation as the primary forum in which the project’s intellectual and artistic ambitions are made legible.
The landing page looks like a rectangular floor plan, replete with doorway, and this itself betrays the residue of less ephemeral exhibition spaces. (It looks a little different on a mobile platform, something discussed in the correspondence between Caroline Picard and Lara Schoorl that serves as a curatorial statement.) The site is a little glitchy and navigation is sometimes challenging. Works litter the digital space. They are mostly textual, comprising curatorial proposals, reports from institutions that don’t exist and syllabi for classes untaught. Rowland Saifi’s “Statement for a Configured Curriculum” responds to an “Institutional Curriculum,” while Jill Magi’s “Curious, Fugitive, and Inedited (The Art Labor Archive of Teaching Days)” proffers “the detritus of in-class writing exercises” culled from an “unfunded institution located in the artist’s imagination.” Some of the contributions are fascinating models of the Kafkaesque art world; some are overwrought conceptual duds.
But the merits of individual entries are, by and large, not the exhibition’s point. Rather, “Institutional Garbage” makes several valuable propositions. First, that online (or, more accurately, multi-platform) exhibitions constitute another category of alternative art spaces. Second, that bureaucracy can be examined productively by creating an artificial bureaucracy of multi-institutional maneuvers. This strategy, which claims a skepticism about modern and contemporary institutions while reinforcing those institutions’ centrality, reads like a straightforward reformulation of critiques already leveled by figures like Marcel Broodthaers. But the show’s scrappy ambition is a testament to the promise of online exhibitions and their capacity to expand the discourse of contemporary art. (Luke A. Fidler)
Through December 31 at hydeparkart.org/exhibitions/eminstitutional-garbageem and presented by Hyde Park Art Center and Green Lantern Press