Watching the Detectives

Hmm, this Tyler Green vs. Voice critic thing is veddy interesting.
First of all, I think Viveros-Faune was entirely too casual, even flippant, in
his responses to Green, and in his thinking about the whole issue. Who did he
think he was talking to? His BFF? Learned his lesson, I guess. But it’s
possible, even probable, that his involvement co-directing those two fairs
really does have (excuse; had) very little impact on his day-to-day
functioning as a critic, as ugly as it ostensibly appears. Charlie Finch attacks Green’s attack on Artnet, and makes a
good point about critics having historically been fellow
artists/lovers/enemies/friends/whathaveyou’s of the folks they review. In fact,
that used to go without saying: critics loudly championed particular causes,
artists, and institutions. But now, with all the money at stake, there’s a lot
more attention being paid to what the handful of visible critics have to say,
how and from where they say it. The papers are dying slow ugly deaths, and
certainly don’t want to risk readership to any apparent conflicts of interest
in this era, post-pc (that’s polictical correctness) revolution. 

It also points to how criticism has changed, how much less
rigorous the thinking surrounding new art is now, and how little that matters –
mainly art writing is pure reportage: "art description." Frankly, I
think ideas have simply lost, period, and art has become pure spectacle on one
end, and pure fetishistic commerce on the other (not that there aren’t plenty of solid artists hard at work). Much of the middle ground is
held by non-profits (and the academics who fill and depend upon them) who think
that art should be an ennobling educational experience, regurgitating it back
up, predigested for the school kids, retirees, and those "young
trustees" looking for the ticket to buy in to Culture.

Writing about art reflects all this. There is no critical
center from which to position oneself, no points to argue really, everything’s
fair game. With hundreds of galleries in Chelsea
alone (with thousands more pining to be there), art fairs acting to decentralize the very nature of the system, and
tsunamis of MFA’s flooding the scene all struggling to carve a saleable niche
with more and more generally negligible product, what else can we comment on
but the phenomena? Bloggers just add to the noise. Though this is a real
demonstration of how powerful they can become. Green just cost a critic his
job. Fine. But who’s watching the watcher? 

______________________________

 

On a related note, I guess people are talking about an
editorial in D
Magazine
declaring contemporary art a big con, and the people who buy it
suckers (gasp! No! What a novel thesis! Bust out the pitchforks and torches!) I
can’t find the offending article online, but that’s basically an impossible argument to defend against. Time was this kind of thing wouldn’t have mattered much to the people
producing or pushing art, or even the people buying it – more likely, it would’ve simply been
fuel for the fire. D Mag hoists its own petard even bothering to tread out this toothless old saw. But you have to have your head way up the art world’s ass to
not see the basic absurdity of the whole catastrophy – the prices, the
frenzy, the fact that Ryan Trecartin has a successful art career…

ryan_trecartin_abraham.jpg

                      
Show me the money! 

 

also by Titus OBrien

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