Saturday, March 3, 2007

more on COI

There is an ongoing Seattle discussion about a critic supposedly curating his collection into an exhibition. It started at the Slog and continued at Artdish. Several times I wanted to jump in, but felt I had maybe too much to say that was hovering yet still beside the point - as I am not in Seattle, have not seen the Mary Henry show (unfortunately!), don’t know much about Matthew Kangas, etc.

But I do know a bit about what can happen when a writer wants to collect here. It wasn't cool for the writer to review and collect, seen as a potential ‘conflict of interest’ (and no, this writer had not reviewed that particular artist or show).

But what about creating an intimate relationship with art as part of your critical practice? Can you really do that if your relationships are all based on gallery and museum visits and books? Art is an ongoing conversation and a real critical practice can be similar to a real art practice – it doesn’t happen in flashes or at a distance.

Mind, one should never ‘pay’ for a review with artwork! These questions apply whether someone buys the work or it was given to them. Art can change your life and change your mind, but it has a harder time doing that if you don’t let it in. To let it in takes a certain commitment, even if it was a gift. To live with it demands something that critiquing does not (that also applies to people who curate and hang shows, who write press releases and all – I’d call that ‘living with it’ too!).

After all, what does a critic do but give an opinion? It is all based on bias, every bit of it - and the writer is allowed, maybe even celebrated, for their bias. But the really great writers love, they don’t just like. And they often surround themselves with what they loved enough to let in.


DoubleJ said...

I think its fine to write on an artist one has collected. Its one thing to rite a review and like a show... its another thing to live with a piece and love it.

This can actually backfire for the artist as the writer might love the work they have so much they hold everything else to it as a standard.

In the old Ab-Ex/Pop days of the school of new york critics were constantly writing about artists they owned.

David Pagel writes about artists he has collected and even talks about them in such terms. Art is about experiences and relationships why not write about what you live with?

Ideally, a critic isnt a vampire who sucks the blood of an artist, critics pick artists they love and advocate for them (without writing a blank critical check).

Advocacy is earned and for certain types of critics its fine to be invested.

Anonymous said...

This is how I understood your comment during the interview with PORT, when you spoke about being ‘invested’. It was not just a matter of seeing something and needing to write about it because you are paid to do so, like an assignment. It’s about living with art (and artists) on a much more intimate scale, that kind of investment.

As to being biased, I never dreamed that you wouldn’t be – or that any critic wouldn’t be. It’s not reportage. For me, criticism comes under the heading of opinion, a slippery thing - best when it has not only information behind it, but also experience. And that’s where living with art comes in.


DoubleJ said...

Yes, that's it. I acknowledge that investment... it's a way of giving artist's traction (which theya ll need at some time or another).