Lorna Mills and Sally McKay
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This eveing I attended a packed out panel discussion that attempted to address the following questions: "Is art criticism still able to galvanize debate or has its effectiveness been diminished? Or are there no issues? Is the art system now too complex for debate, or has the art community advanced beyond this need, having found other ways and forms of engaging discussion?"
Highlights include the following quotes:
panelist Mark Cheetham: Debate needs a context of contestation, and that needs to be staged.
panelist Sarah Milroy: The citadel has fallen to the art-hungry hordes.
panelist Catherine Osborne: Assumed knowledge is a failing.
The panel was lopsided in favour of journalism and accessibility (two things that I like), and therefore art criticism per se (another thing that I like) did not get a fair kick at the can. Philip Monk apparently felt that his role as moderator prevented him from truly advocating for the 'lost' discourse. Some riled-up audience members such as Andy Patton, Xandra Eden, Jessica Wyman and John Bentley Mays, spoke up for critique, but in the end Monk, somewhat fatalistically*, declared a consensus that art criticism is irrelevant, and the statement was met with an overall sense of quiet, defeated resignation. Ouch!
I told someone the other day, dismayed at my lack of a master's degree, that I got my learnin' at the school of hard knocks. HAh. Not true. I'm basically uneducated. But I do occasionally read (and also sometimes publish) art theory and criticism. My budding series of Canadian art quotes ( 1 / 2 / 3 / and JR ) is a tiny testament to the peaks of the discourse that have inspired me along the way. Reading art criticism (and here I will melt art theory into the same puddle, tho I know there's a distinction) may be the provenance of freaks and social deviants ...but I know you are out there!
Join me and post your favourite art criticism and theory quotes (with bibliographic citations, please) in the comment section below.
*or mabye he's right, and I'm a Pollyanna. Okay okay ... I am a Pollyanna. But that doesn't mean he's right!