Wednesday 18 May 2011

The Outside Chance of Art Criticism

May 18, 2011 Art and Education

The Outside Chance of
Art Criticism

Seminar on the occasion of the launch of the Nordic and International editions of Kunstkritikk 

Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, 19 May 2011, 2–6 pm

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A decade ago, art criticism was perceived to be in a state of crisis. How has it changed since then? What are the new potentials of art writing, how can we use it?

When the journal October held its influential roundtable on The Present Condition of Art Criticism (published in 2002), art criticism was widely perceived to be in a state of crisis. This situation was confirmed by numerous books, texts, talks and seminars over the last decade. James Elkins put it bluntly in 2003 when he stated that "art criticism is massively produced and massively ignored."

However, as this more or less academic debate unfolded, art criticism itself was changing. In various formats and genres, from online art reporting via performative writing to critique of capitalism, art criticism gained a new direction and strength or at least a new, productive instability that was not apparent at the beginning of the decade.

Some of the debate surrounding art criticism absorbed these tendencies. The theorist Irit Rogoff took a linear but also productive approach with her widely circulated idea of a shift from "criticism via critique to criticality." Rogoff leaves traditional criticism little honor and states that we have moved on from "finding fault" to "an emphasis on the present, of living out a situation, of understanding culture as a series of effects rather than of causes, of the possibilities of actualising some of its potential rather than revealing its faults." However, if we widen our understanding of art criticism it is perhaps possible to see that the best writing performs both the critique and the criticality that Rogoff refers to. Especially the hybrid mix of criticism, theory and activism that is currently beeing played out and tested both in ink, online and in live formats around the world seem difficult to pin down and is repeatedly pointing to artistic and political potentialities.

Against the background of these recent debates, and on the occasion of the launch of the online art journal Kunstkritikk's Nordic and International editions, the seminar "The Potential of Art Criticism" will explore some of the possibilities for art criticism in the new decade. We will not deny the methodological difficulties and institutional challenges that continue to confront art criticism, but rather ask what potential art criticism has to inhabit the paradoxes of contemporary cultural production. Perhaps there is also a latent hope in reevaluating the seemingly outdated task of "reviewing and judging art" as a part of a constant process of challenging the way we experience the world and imagine the future.



2:00 pm–Welcome
Mats Stjernstedt, director, Kunstnernes Hus
George Morgenstern, dean, Oslo Academy of Fine Art

2:15 pm–Introduction
Jonas Ekeberg, editor, Kunstkritikk

2:30–3:00 pm              
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About e-flux journal But Were Too Afraid To Ask
Anton Vidokle, founder and editor, e-flux and e-flux journal

3:00–3:30 pm              
Why Perspectivism is not fun at all
Fredrik Svensk: co-editor, Paletten and staff writer, Kunstkritikk

3:30–4:00 pm              
Coffee break

4:00–4:30 pm              
Critical Considerations
Jennifer Allen, editor, frieze d/e

4:30–5:00 pm
It is about nothing less than writing and reading
Chus Martinez, Head of Department, dOCUMENTA (13)

5:00 pm
Chair: Jacob Lillemose, art critic and staff writer, Kunstkritikk

Free entrance, limited seating. Advance booking is strongly recommended to Seminar co-produced by Kunstkritikk, Kunstnernes Hus and Oslo Academy of Fine Art. After the seminar there will be a reception/party at Kunstnernes Hus from 8pm–late. DJs Peter Amdam and Ina Blom.

Kunstkritikk is an online art journal founded in 2003. Updated daily, Kunstkritikk brings criticism, commentary and news from the field of contemporary art. On May 19th Kunstkritikk expands and will start publishing three parallell editions: one Norwegian, one Nordic and one International.

Kunstkritikk is published by The Norwegian Critic's Association and receives major funding from Arts Council Norway. The Nordic and International editions are supported by The Freedom of Expression Foundation, Oslo.


Anton Vidokle is a visual artist and has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Shanghai Biennial, Lyon Biennial, Dakar Biennale, Liverpool Biennale, Tate Modern, London; Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana; Musée d'art Modern de la Ville de Paris; Museo Carrillo Gil, Mexico City; Portikus, Frankfurt; UCLA Hammer, LA; ICA, Boston; Haus Der Kunst, Munich; P.S.1, New York; among others. As founder of e-flux (1999), he has conceived and presented projects such as An Image Bank for Everyday Revolutionary Life, the Martha Rosler Library, e-flux video rental and Time/Bank (with Julieta Aranda). Most currently Vidokle co-edits e-flux journal.

Jennifer Allen is the editor of the new bilingual German-English magazine frieze d/e. Based in Berlin since 1995, Dr. Allen has written for a host of international publications and lectured at many universities and academies. In Norway, she taught at the Kunstakademiet i Trondheim and co-directed The Fire Project with Hans Hamid Rasmussen.

Chus Martínez, is from January 2011 Head of Department in the curatorial office of the Artistic Director of dOCUMENTA (13). She is currently also the director of a new theory magazine, published by MACBA, called INDEX. Born in Spain in 1972, Chus Martínez has a background in philosophy and art history. Since July 2008 until now, she has been the chief curator of MACBA in Barcelona. Previously she was director of the Frankfurter Kunstverein (2005–2008); the artistic director of Sala Rekalde, Bilbao (2002–2005); and director of the project space of La Caixa Foundation, Barcelona (2001–2002). For the 50th Venice Biennale (2005), Martínez curated the National Pavilion of Cyprus under the title "Gravy Planet," and in 2010 co-curated the 29th São Paulo Bienial. Martinez lectures regularly at the Royal College in London, the Oslo Fine Art Academy, and HISK in Antwerp. She has written numerous catalogue texts and her critical essays have appeared in magazines such as Kaleidoscope and Artforum.

Fredrik Svensk is a critic, writer, editor, curator and educator. From 2011, he is co-editor of Paletten Art Journal and a part of the editorial reference board at Kunstkritikk. He is a Lecturer in Art- and Culture Theory at Valand School of Fine Arts, University of Gothenburg. In his research he is currently focusing on the politics and aesthetics of alternative art educational formats, as well as paratexts of contemporary art exhibitions. He is also a member research group OTCOP, investigating the conditions of production in contemporary art, initiated by Baltic Art Center. He has been contributing to  Glänta, Vector, SITE, Sarai, Neue Review, Anarchitecture, Paris, Res Publica, Art Monitor, Göteborgs‐Posten and Aftonbladet. He is the co‐translater of Gilles Deleuze's Différence et répétition. In collaboration with Lisa Rosendahl & Henrik Andersson he was a curator at Röda Sten Art Center, Gothenburg (2006–2008) with projects just as: Äkta Vara (true being / true commodity), and Art After Education.

Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC009201