Sruti Bala
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Gestures of institutional critique
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In the context of contemporary art, the concept of 'institutional critique' refers to the scrutiny of the power of institutions through artistic means. This chapter focuses on the challenges and conundrums of institutional critique from the vantage point of participatory practices. It examines the formation of participatory art as a genre, specifically community-based, applied art, as emergent from the critique of mainstream art institutions. The chapter examines their disciplinary configurations within the arts. The history of participatory theatre practices across the world testifies to an institutional critique in a combination of gestures of fleeing from, forging new and transforming existing relationships to institutions. The chapter also examines the institutional affiliations and entanglements of participatory projects, and how they operate within or against their supporting institutions in different ways. The disciplinary variations of participatory art demonstrate how nomenclature is a contextual practice.

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