Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ARTICLE- Of Temporarily Not Writing Art Criticism- Ace Wagstaff

“Of Temporarily Not Writing Art Criticism”

Art criticism, or perhaps the attempt to indulge in art criticism is “neither a recreation of nor a substitution for artistic experience”[i]. So what the hell am I doing trying to critique art? Being a supposed practicing artist, a post graduate student in a diploma of education course and now, attempting to maintain a constant critique of local artists run spaces and their exhibitions, I feel I am not really succeeding at any. Reel Big Fish echo my lament in their song “Don’t start a band”, informing those of potential not to begin anything creative, nobody wants to hear it or see it[ii]. I cant help but feel that there may be a degree of truth in this contradictory and obviously cheeky tune. I don’t even want to hear myself, why would anyone else? (bare in mind its also not my intention to write an article of self loathing but merely explore my dismay and creative block to write at present).

I have seen a lot of exhibitions and galleries in the last two months but haven’t felt either inspired enough to write of anything seen or that which I have written I feel hasn’t been any good. Obviously I do not want to make an enemy of every artist which has exhibited in the last two months in Melbourne and must inform you that these two observations are not fact: I’m sure what I’ve seen has been fantastic work and the problem lies with my inability to engage by asking the right questions of it and myself in order to form a half decent analysis of the work[iii]. When it comes to art criticism to be able to apply a series of higher level questioning is essential[iv].

The answer to getting on with viewing, enjoying and writing about art may be connected to another problem in my life. Perhaps there is a subconscious disappoint about never getting that NERF gun for Christmas as a child or the fact I’ve never had sex with maple syrup and table tennis paddles. Hmm… both are entertaining possibilities but I know they are mere untruthful distractions to seduce me away from focusing on the topic at hand and prolonging the inevitable truth as to why I cant sit down and write (which I don’t think I have the confidence to acknowledge to myself let alone divulge so publicly by writing it here).

I want to swear, Im frustrated. I want to unload a barrage of F--k’s, S--t’s and maybe even a few C--t’s but I know it would be futile. Pointless. Barbaric. All I've done is succeeded in sounding, no, writing, like a selfish, pretentious, opinionated, little twat. Maybe I should break something instead but again, a barbaric action is probably worse than screaming profanity. Best not to do anything I guess. I feel like I cant do anything, like Rivers Cuomo, I don’t do anything, I like to think that punching or swearing will not make any difference in the scheme of things[v]… not like uncouth, stupid people who know who to act and are satisfied through their impulsive yet purposeless actions. Destructive actions, in all fairness, are about as useful as art criticism.

[i] Hamblen, K. A. 1984, Studies in Art Education, Vol 26, No.1, National Art Education Association.
[ii] Reel Big Fish 2005, “We’re not happy ‘til you’re not happy”, ‘Don’t start a band’ 3:18.
[iii] Gall, M. D. 1970, The Use of questions in teaching. Review of Educational Research
[iv] Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (Eds.) 1964, Taxonomy of the educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook II: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay
[v] Schuftan, Craig 2008, “triple j: The Culture Club - Weezer's fanfare for the underground man” (http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/triplej/cultureclub/cc_weezer.mp3)


art kids said...

i think the more i think and talk about art, as exhausting as it can be, helps me to be a better artist.

also i think that if the dialogue about art is not there, there is not really any reason to make art. for me, anyway. you aren't making it in a vacuum, cue a reference to relational aesthetics. (okay too tired to remember any relevant quotes.)

unfortunately it's all at the stage where art criticism is eating itself and starting wars with the rest of the world, eg henson/polixeni controversy. and what all that shit in the newspapers makes me think is that artists and critics need each other, because nobody else wants to be our friend.

anyway i'll talk to you soon; take care.

art kids said...

okay that first sentence needs those two clauses to be connected somehow.

michaeldoubrava said...

Any critic courageous enough to celebrate the artistic importance of the film _The Omega Man_ within the history of Western culture deserves a million kudos, and a cup of tea.

Anonymous said...

i agree what you wrote is a waste of time
thats what was good about books and publishing people considered and edited their disorganised rantings. i too should be working.

Abhayan Varghese said...

Yep. Swearing wont make much of a difference. And the only way to write something is to simply write it.

But critiquing art is a far more serious process. It takes you on an emotional journey 'cos you have to find out the truth in the art and then connect it with what the artist is trying to say.

I am writing about an artist friend of mind and its absolutely killing me. Going to post it in a couple of days at www.thelastvigilante.blogspot.com

Good luck with your process.