Beyond Systems Aesthetics: Hans Haacke’s Pedagogical and Parasitic Art


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History


Drawing upon recent studies of art, technology, and systems theory, this dissertation historically contextualizes Hans Haacke’s understudied oeuvre. This project identifies and explores continuities—such as an interest in systems, education, and the activation of spectators—linking all of the artist’s works. The study also provides fresh readings of the tactics Haacke mobilizes in his artwork. Two claims undergird the project: that Haacke’s art is “pedagogical” and “parasitic.” His artworks can function as irritants to the institutions that host them. Haacke’s works bring politics and economics, traditionally believed alien to art, into galleries. In addition, the artist undertakes acts of “paracitation,” redeploying extant structures or codes in order to educate and inform his public. Thus, following this account, Haacke’s artworks catalyze reactions; upon engaging them, viewers strike new positions and slightly change their ways of acting in the world.