While no account of art’s institutions can be complete without reference to the art school, the literature of institutional critique demonstrates a tapered focus on the museum. The term ‘art school’ is an anachronism often used within the UK higher education community. When I refer to the art school, therefore, I have in mind something like a Fine Art department of a university or an Academy of the arts in Europe. I will argue that the art school has been neglected by institutional critique, but it has not been entirely ignored by it. Kaprow (1967, 1968), Haacke (1971, 1973, 1976), Ramsden (1975), Rosler (1979), Piper (1983) and Fraser (1985, 1992, 2005) all go to varying lengths to discuss academia and institutions in terms of conflicting values taught and produced for public consumption in the museum. This treatment of the art school focuses either on the critique of art pedagogy defined by and reproducing the dominant cultural value received in the museum or the integration of institutional critique into the taught curriculum within the art school. While research linking institutional critique to art-academia during the waves of institutional critique exists, no single study responds to institutional confrontations by critically reflecting on the interdisciplinary roles, multiple sites and discursive material reproduced by the art school after art’s social, pedagogical turns. Existing research on institutional critique after the educational turn needs to be reimagined, I will claim, using the tools of what I will call interstitial pedagogy, which is teaching and learning that takes place between institutions and both inside and outside the curriculum. Interstitial pedagogy, I will argue, expands the framework of institutional critique by contesting the operations of the art school as one of the primary institutional sites of art's formation and reproduction. As such, this practice-led study contributes to the extension of the scope of institutional critique through a detailed critical evaluation of the techniques used in self-organised pedagogical situations devised and run by postgraduate students at Chelsea College of Art (2009-2016).
What contributions can a practice-led analysis of socially engaged art embedded in the art school and guided by critical pedagogy provide institutional critique?