What Is the Purpose of Institutional Critique Today? | Keil | Polish Theatre Journal

ISSN 2451-2966


Marta Keil

What Is the Purpose of Institutional Critique Today?

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I believe that a genuine and effective campaign for art as a democratic instrument can only succeed if the methods and conditions of producing art are rendered more democratic; and the programme of social emancipation ought to begin with a critical examination of the mechanisms, structures and internal relations in force within the organization we are responsible for. I am in no doubt that public arts institutions remain a priceless good, requiring care and attention, but in my view the campaign for their survival will only be efficient insofar as we reflect critically on how these institutions are organized, how they operate, and whom and what they realistically benefit. In this context, I understand institutional critique as a critical enquiry into the practices, structures and methods of working in art. I find it equally important to expose the institutional framework and the process by which it is delimited – in doing so, I am especially mindful of the fact that defining borders inevitably leaves out fragments of territory. I will attempt to answer the question about the practicability of institutional critique in the current socio-political and economic context, and address the issue of why this type of critique is more vital today than ever.


Marta Keil

(1983), performing arts curator, based in Warsaw, Poland. Since 2012 she curates together with Grzegorz Reske Theatre Confrontations - international performing arts festival in Lublin ( She created and curates the East European Performing Arts Platform ( Worked as curator and dramaturg with i.e. Agnieszka Jakimiak, Rabih Mroué, Agata Siniarska and Ana Vujanović. In 2014 and 2015 she worked as curator at Teatr Polski in Bydgoszcz ( and co-curated Festival of New Dramaturgies ( One of the initiators and curators of the Identity.Move! project ( Editor of the book “Dance, Process, Artistic Research. Contemporary Dance in the Political, Economic and Social Context of “Former East” of Europe”, published in 2015. PhD student at the Polish Academy of Science's Art Institute. She writes a blog