Vlad Morariu

Parerga: The Politics of Framing in the Current Discourse of Institutional Critique

The proposed project was the continuation of Morariu’s ongoing research on the current conditions and possibilities of institutional critique. The latter is a disputed concept, which emerged in the artistic and academic milieus of the 1980s, and has been used to describe artistic practices which analyse, inquire, expose, and at times alter the ways in which the art institution “frames” the art object both from a physical and from an ideological-conceptual point of view. Morariu argues that one needs to draw a conceptual distinction between institutional critique as a category of art history scholarship and institutional critique as a methodology for analysing, exposing, and intervening within institutional situations: Far from dismissing the importance of the first approach by Morariu on the topic is to rethink the manners in which, to paraphrase Simon Sheikh’s words, the method of criticism could be linked with the object of the institution. The project for Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen was informed by this methodological-practical approach to institutional critique. It proposed a return to one of the most important issues for the institutional critique artists of the 1970s—the notion of the frame—and sought to understand in what regard the issue of framing is still important in the contemporary critical discourse and how it affects artistic practices.In his “Truth in Painting,” Jacques Derrida defined that which seems to be a supplement of the work, the parergon—the frame—as that which “comes against, beside, and in addition to the ergon, the work done, the fact, the work, but it does not fall to one side, it touches and cooperates within the operation, from a certain outside. Neither simply outside nor simply inside.” Parerga rely on a certain lack in the work, as if the work calls for its frames, it needs them and desires them, and as such frames describe a stratum, which is separated not only from the inside of the work, but also from the outside, “from the wall on which the painting is hung, from the space in which statue or column is erected, then, step by step, from the whole field of historical, economic, political inscription in which the drive to signature is produced.” And that is why, argues Derrida,exactly this being inside and outside, at the same time, grants the parergon a critical function. Morariu assumes that institutional critique as practice and as methodology highlights exactly this being inside and outside, at the same time, of the framework, working both within an ideology of the art institution but engaging, as well, the logic of a potential liberation. During his fellowship at Büchsenhausen, Morariu focused his research on how contemporary artistic practices approach the heritage of a questioning of “presuppositions and conditions of possibility,” which relate in a straightforward manner to a sustained reflection on contemporary processes of art’s framing.

Vlad Morariu was the 2013 recipient of the City of Innsbruck Fellowship for Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen.

Vlad Morariu *1983, is a theoretician, curator, and art critic based in London. He studied philosophy at Loughborough University School of the Arts, in his PhD thesis he investigated the present conditions and possibilities of institutional critique (PhD degree 2014). He translated Arthur Danto’s “Transfiguration of the Commonplace. A Philosophy of Art” into Romanian (Idea, 2012), and published texts and interviews in collective editions such as Atlas of Transformation, JRP-Ringier, 2010, and Crisis, Rupture and Anxiety, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012. He has been a member of the ArtLeaks platform since 2011 and has been collaborating with Idea Art + Society magazine since 2007.