Cube root

By GREG COOK  |  March 1, 2010

If Fraser's videos have lost some of their sting, that's because she and her comrades won. Museums took the criticism to heart. (Whether they changed all that much is another matter.) And as it inspired numerous creative projects, institutional critique went mainstream — from art collaboratives like Boston's Institute for Infinitely Small Things to cable television's The Daily Show. These fake institutions have morphed into actual institutions that do just what their joke names say they do. What TV reporter offers harder-hitting interviews these days than Jon Stewart?

This transition from 1990s postmodern parody to 2000s earnestness corresponds to the shift from the lite, comfortable, easy-money '90s to the holy-shit seriousness of September 11, wars, torture, Katrina, and the Great Recession. What may have felt edgy then often seems obvious now, even tedious — small potatoes. And was anyone ever really threatened by a monologue satirizing the silly, maudlin, egotistical blather of artists and curators? Egad!

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