Artists and Institutional Critique: Connal Parsley

Topics in Critical Thought is returning to OSE with a series of eight seminars taking place across June and September.

This session will explore artists in their critical relations to institutions.

Facilitated by Connal Parsley.

The first session on institutional critique will start with a short piece by Andrea Fraser, to introduce us to the term and what it might mean. Fraser insists that institutional critique is not about taking an external critical position against institutions; that art making always exists within art institutions and discourses. We will explore the implications of understanding institutional critique as an attempt to take responsibility for “everyday complicities, compromises, and censorship … driven by our own interests in the field”, in two ways. First, by turning to an essay by the late Okwui Enwezor and the question of (post-)colonialism and the “contemporary”, and the figure of “permanent transition”. Enwezor considers how curatorial practice can be self-critical, working institutionally with both canonical thinking and new strands of artistic thought and practice. Second, through a recent exhibition at LA’s MOCA by Cameron Rowland, D37 (see pamphlet for pre-reading). Rowland’s piece will serve as an example of one way—perhaps different from what Fraser intended?—in which artistic practice is currently trying to reckon with the conditions of the institutions that enable it.

This short course is designed to offer an introduction to critical thought in general and provide a series of engaging talks and discussions related to topics of contemporary concern to critical theorists. Members of the Centre for Critical Thought at the University of Kent deliver the sessions alongside selected guests.

Free, no booking required.

You don’t have to have a background in theory to attend these seminars. And you can choose to come to only one, two or more of the sessions.

Accessibility info

Due to factors beyond our control, this event is inaccessible to those with limited mobility. We can record parts of the session if there is a demand. Please send an email to if you are interested.