Retreating in/from art institutions | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 25, Issue 50
  • ISSN: 0845-4450
  • E-ISSN: 2048-6928



All too frequently individuals working in art institutions are faced with the frustrating contradiction that the quality engagement with art and ideas that are the institution's raison d'être, and the concentrated research and writing that are a vital part of, for instance, curatorial work are compromised by workload and have to be eked out in less-than-efficient spurts, fit in after regular working hours, or postponed altogether. This text explores some of the reasons conditions of overwork exist in art institutions and how slow time for working with art, artists and ideas might be reprioritized by looking at recent examples of art institutions that have employed strategies of retreat and withdrawal. The text also proposes that given the prevalence and normalization of conditions of overwork as well as an increasing reliance on unpaid labour in the field, art institutions have an ethical responsibility to refuse such exploitative conditions and commit to doing less when human and financial resources are insufficient.


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