Chicago Artist Writers seeks to fill gaps in critical response to exhibitions at Chicago’s alternative, temporary, and nonprofit spaces.
rachel de joode
This is a pretty excellent read, though I felt that I liked it despite itself: the editor's commentary, while the more effective half of the article, did more to criticize rather than clarify the author's argument for to the show. I'm still fuzzy on what Josh thought.In the interest of this project, I'd advocate for conversational redundancy (Brandon writing a separate review of the same show in response) rather than repurposing the editorial role as present expositor/dissenter. I'm saying this as a fan of the editorial content - but I would have liked it better as a fully realized argument about the show.
My role as an editor in this project was an experimental one. I set myself up with the challenge of expanding the frames of reference editors work in. I did not visit the show before receiving Josh’s writing so I was only able to respond directly to his piece and indirectly to the work as installed through emailed images and my own (minimal) research. The collaboration as a whole, though involving multiple parties, was more like a relay race handoff than a back and forth group effort. Ultimately, we did less to criticize the work than make a new artwork within the confines of this blog. My goal was to embody the generative qualities inherent in the experience of an artwork and to prioritize the language that trails behind. Since the original piece of writing was formatted in a loose and unconventional manner, by criticism standards, I approached my task as editor in an equally loose and unconventional manner. Normally, an editor works invisibly, behind the scenes, to attenuate or sharpen another writer’s argument. My approach attempts to make explicit an underlying structure and not in a way that is about the structure per se, but to open a new space to play within. My text was written in red as a structural decision to separate and identify the different voices as well as a tongue-in-cheek decision to enhance the didactic nature of the comments. The red text also loosens it rigor and criticality over the course of the piece to draw out the changing of one’s views over time and in public.My fascination with editor’s notes as tiny public/published corrections, very occasionally deployed, illustrate the group nature of writing as well as the position an editor takes on the side of the reader. My desire was to invert the structure of the situation (perhaps selfishly) to de-prioritize the art show and de-stabilize the centeredness of the artworks in question. I suppose this happened by not playing the part of an editor but working as an artist at the desk of an editor. At that point, objectivity is pretty much out the window and what we individually and actually think of the show has to be gleaned/interpreted from the form of the piece. Actually, the idea to organize another whole body of work to criticize the criticism was tossed around for a second.I chose to format the piece and release it as a download to play with the structure in how we read online art criticism. Yes, it is a mildly interactive and yes the .docx file is locked so you the reader can’t actually make any further changes (though I suppose this comment thread sufficiently extends the texts) but all that serves to further differentiate the project from the rest on the blog. I am proposing that (and I may be in the minority on this) what is said about and trails in the wake of an artwork, is as important, if not more important than the original work. But moreover, it’s not just what is said, but how it is said. Though confusing art criticism with creative writing may very well render both ineffective, it perhaps provides a potentially interesting counterpoint or extension to both histories (Frank O’Hara, et al.) J.Bryan Louder’s Slate review of a recent unnecessarily harsh review by Pete Wells in the New York Times of Guy Fieri’s new restaurant says it best (which is not to say I’m claiming to achieve this goal, only strive for it): “Indeed, what Wells has done here is to stretch the limits of what food criticism is “supposed” to do—in the conservative Times, anyway. He has taken up Katie Roiphe’s assertion that, in an era when Yelp provides all the “good or bad” restaurant reviews we need, “the role of the true critic is actually quite simple: To write on a different level, to pay attention to the elements of style.” If the critic delights or enrages with well-crafted prose, she has done her job.Of course, not everyone thinks of criticism this way. Luke O’Neil mockingly asked in Bullett: “Is this entire review a very expensive piece of conceptual art?” My answer: In a certain sense, yes, that is exactly what it is. And?”