Ms Frida Viktoria Sandström

Research project: Art Criticism as Social Critique


The work-in-progress title of my PhD thesis is "Art criticism as social critique. The disintegration (Johnston), deculturation (Lonzi) and objection (Piper) of art critical subjectivity in Italy and USA, 1965-1975."

In what way does social critique concern art criticism in the context and period of 1965–1975 USA and Western Europe? What does social critique tell us about the "law of movement" of art criticism? The three cases are Jill Johnston (1929–2010), Carla Lonzi (1931–1982), and Adrian Piper (1948–) – all providing different examples of social critique during the period of study, and in a US-European context. This period and context are marked by manifold changes in the manifestation of a capitalist mode of production and corresponding social movements, in which the analysis will be situated and contextualised. 

In my study of the writings of the three cases, I will analyse their ideas on and practical reconfigurations of the practice of art criticism, part of a refusal, critique or occupation of critical subjectivity and hence of identity, including the concept of art. I understand this approach as part of an overarching engagement with the conditions of possibility for a subject of an aesthetic judgment in general and the social reproduction of this subject in late capitalist modernity, in particular. A subject that in this historically specific context also includes the subject of social critique.

What I attempt to point out in Johnston's, Piper's and Lonzi's activity is therefore not something like an ‘after' criticism, but rather the manifestation of a problem inherent to art critical subjectivity. Therefore, I ask how social critique may concern art criticism in the way that praxis concerns theory, and vice versa. By nature of this dialectics, the enquiry must be handled on two levels, theoretically and historically specific. I will therefore situate my theoretical references in the historical specific context of their writings, which here includes the context of the cases themselves. This makes theory a question of praxis, and art criticism a question of social critique.

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Art Criticism as Social Critique
  • Research supervisor: Professor Peter Osborne


As part of and anlongside this research, I have, together with James Day, Fredrik Svensk and Mikkel Bolt, and i collaboration with Art as Forum, arranged two symposia on the subject of art criticism: "The promise and compulsion of art criticism's universalism," 2020, and "The subject of art criticism's universalism," 2021. 

I have planned and taught the 15 ECTS MA course "Culture as mediation of indifference, or the modern crisis of representation," at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen, spring 2021

Outside of my academic engagement I work as a writer and critic, and since 2015, I am a contributing editor at Paletten Art Journal. 2020 I edited the online special issue "Editorial meeting – A Gathering Towards a Critique of the Contemporary," in collaboration with Matthew Rana and Patrik Haggren.

I write recurrently for Artforum, and am published in contexts such as, Critique d'Art, Afterall, ArtAgenda, Mousse, Frieze, e-flux Journal, Art Papers, Camera Austria, Kunstkritikk, Dagens Nyheter and Aftonbladet kultur. 2015 I was the editor of the anthology KROPPSFUNKTION (Stockholm: 2015).

As a guest teacher and lecturer in Contemporary Art and Dance Theory, I have visited Umeå Academy of Fine Arts, Konstfack - University of Arts Craft and Design, Gerlesborg School of Fine Art, Linköping University, DOCH - Stockholm University of the Arts and at Akademin Valand, all in Sweden. 


  • MA in Aesthetics, Södertörn University (2018)
  • MA in New Performative Practices, Stockholm University of the Arts (2016)
  • BA in Journalism, Gothenburg University (2015)