Art & Criticism

Like a fellow classmate, I did enjoy reading Round Table: The Present Conditions of Art Criticism published by The MIT Press Journals. I fantasized about people sitting together and discussing without interruption and wondered if I would ever have the pleasure. (oops was I being sarcastic?) I did also note that this article is just the beginning of what could be so many discussions about art, artists, critics and writing (and magazines and their audiences). There is a goldmine of topic starters.

As I read I made notations and these are some of the main ones and based on my understanding of the discussion and context.

The role of critic has been diminished. The reasons, as far as I can tell, are complicated. Art has become more about investment rather than commentary or visual discussion among other reasons. Storr mentions (203) that the language in criticism is difficult and I agree. I would not go so far as to say it should be dumbed down, but sometimes that is exactly how it makes me feel, like a dummy. What I conclude when I approach difficult articles is that someone like me makes the art and someone else writes the criticism, but I may not be the person it is written for. At least not at my level. Ha, no one is writing about my work anyway! lol.

I appreciated parts of the discussion where teaching (at least for me) was occurring. The delineation between the economic and intellectual markets, for instance. Or the way in which writing legitimizes certain art practices. And the discussion around judgment and interpretation was useful. Also helpful was Buchloh’s explanation of academic criticism versus the artist critic. I agreed with Molesworth’s comment (207) that “there is always a benefit to a discursive.”

I wondered where some comments leave me. Baker says “a younger generation that has not had as much public discourse to develop that their criteria are (210),” and Miller repeats it with “the invocation of the youth culture…either older artists are affirmed as quasi-masters, or the artist is young and their work has to have some kind of relation to D.J. Culture or something similar. (218)”

I was interested in the discussion surrounding collaboration as I am also just finishing the Web2.0 class which discusses peer to peer networks and mass collaboration as culture creators. Buchloh (215) points out that thinking we are actually collaborating is a false assumption based on the way power is, in reality, distributed. Something that I realized in the other class too is that mass collaboration is only democratic when everyone has a computer, has an Internet connection, and has the tools to create. Hello, there may be 1 billion people like that, but that leaves over 5 billion of them without. Poor and illiterate (and mostly female too?) people would be my guess.

An affirmation for me was the discussion surrounding site-specificity and context. For round-table participants, as writers, it is important, but also for artists. As Fraser says (223) “I do believe that artists have a responsibility to think critically about their contexts…” Storr also comments (224) that for writers it is important “not to get stuck in one register.” Ditto that for artists!

Purely fun was the comment by Storr on 215 where he says, “No I don’t. And that is insider or coterie talk, because you’re saying, ‘Yes, you know who they are,’ and I don’t know who they are. So tell me.” I laughed so hard.

I suppose that critics could be helped if I subscribe to October magazine?