Posts tagged dialogue
Posts tagged dialogue
I Could Never Make it as a “Real” Art Critic
A Critical Intervention By Cassie Peterson
The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things… Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
– From Oscar Wilde’s, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”
I could never make it as a “real” art critic because I don’t pretend to possess the certainty or gumption required to distill a piece of art and then somehow, “objectively,” attach value to it. I could never in good conscience, determine the worth of a piece or proclaim something simply “good” or “bad.” So much art criticism tries to convince us that the writer is operating from some kind of neutral or expert position and that art can be reduced or understood as one thing; and that as such, it has some kind of inherent value or (non)value. Through this process of commodification, the work is reduced, reified, and objectified, whereby emphasis is rendered solely on product and not on process or method. It closes a tight lid on an artist’s investigations and intentions.
But the performing arts pose some difficulty to this process in that they are intrinsically body-based, durational and ephemeral and thus resist the typical, material bounds of an art object and the traditional economies of becoming known to the viewer. In this way, performance is already radically out of bounds, existing as its own alternative economy that explores and expresses value via other (more interesting) means. Therefore, I believe that performance writing and criticism should mimic and honor this alterity. I believe in a dialogic method of writing “with” art as opposed to writing “about” it. It is far more worthwhile to ask what a work is trying to do, rather than imagining what it hasn’t done.
I believe in a performing arts discourse that offers its subject a generous and sophisticated frame, not by imposing narratives or metaphors per say, but rather by finding a way to offer multiple entry points into abstraction and kinesthesia. I believe in criticism that diligently explores the idiosyncratic and internal logic of a piece rather than judging it based on pre-determined, external expectations. Critics should write alongside the work in a collaborative effort to create something new, both in content and process. Criticism should not just exist as some cheap, descriptive or explanatory effort to document that which cannot be documented, but should rather be a creative and generative venture unto itself.
“Art” is not an isolated domain; it is an integral part of the sociopolitical terrain from which it arises. Therefore, I am interested in and excited by criticism that works to locate and contextualize performance within contemporary social discourses and frameworks. It should work to contextualize private artistic gestures inside of public discourses. I am interested in criticism that understands Aesthetic practice as Political practice. Artistic process as Social process.
I am inspired by criticism that reads like rigorous love letters to the form(s) it is exploring. I believe a critic’s role is to start a conversation, be part of a dialogue, offer a perspective, and help make work legible through text, whilst creating something entirely new in the process. Be curious. Be generous. Be moved.