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Locating Simon Critchley’s ‘interstitial distance’ in the practices of The Freee Art Collective and Liberate Tate

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In the art institutional landscape, a blurring of boundaries between the state and the market is effectively transforming public art institutions into semi-private ones. In response to these developments, a New Wave of critical institutionalism has recently emerged with the goal of contesting the neo-liberalization of the public art institution. Existing literature in this field reduces the strategies these critical institutions employ to a dichotomy between attempting to reform public art institutions from within, or abandoning them completely in order to set up alternatives that exist outside the state system and its market logic. The former thinking follows a strategy of ‘engagement-with’ as theorized by Chantal Mouffe, while the latter adheres to the post-Operaist strategy of ‘exodus’. Within the field of left-wing political philosophy these strategies have been challenged by a third position put forward by Simon Critchley, which proposes that radical politics should take place at an ‘interstitial distance’ from state institutions, a strategy that involves opening spaces of opposition against the state from within state territory. Although Critchley does not apply this thinking to the field of art, it is my contention that his strategy of interstitial distance offers a third path for the critical institution, one which, I argue, is exemplified in the practices of the UK-based art collectives: Freee and Liberate Tate.
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Keywords: anarchic meta-politics; critical institutionalism; dissensus; divine violence; interstitial distance; public sphere; war of position

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National College of Art and Design (NCAD)

Publication date: December 1, 2014

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  • Art & the Public Sphere provides a new platform for academics, artists, curators, art historians and theorists whose working practices are broadly concerned with contemporary art's relation to the public sphere. The journal presents a crucial examination of contemporary art's link to the public realm, offering an engaged and responsive forum in which to debate the newly emerging series of developments within contemporary thinking, society and international art practice.
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