by tom moodyComments Off on casual criticism, professionally presented
This paragraph from Jennifer Chan's essay on internet art commodification haunts me:
In terms of art criticism, independent yet reputable art review blogs such
as networked_performance, Furtherfield, and Art Fag City offer casual criticism
and image posting to reinforce the exhibition value of net art through the
reblogging and citation of existing art practices. The aforementioned image
blogs are run by contemporary artists who are active within internet art
communities. The presence of such websites forms an alternative venue for
tastemaking and art distribution. While operating without large jurying committees
at museums or galleries, the apparent anonymity and professionalism of these
media aggregating website-galleries cause them to appear as though they are
institutions in and of themselves.
It's good to acknowledge alternative venues but other assumptions in that short statement could use more scrutiny:
(1) Galleries and museums are institutions. Most galleries start with an opinionated person hanging a professional looking sign outside a ground floor retail space (with reduced rent to attract higher-paying tenants) and many never leave this stage.
(2) Institutions are marked by large jurying committees. Yet museums routinely turn curation chores over to solo artists, such as Jeff Koons or (shudder) Rob Pruitt.
(3) Art review blogs exist to "reinforce exhibition value." Possibly these sites write about certain art because they like it and feel it isn't being covered adequately elsewhere.
(4) Art review blogs are about "tastemaking," "media aggregating," and/or "art distribution." This a tawdry explanation for criticism.
(5) Affecting "apparent anonymity and professionalism" is a bid for institutional status. Only the battered photocopy look is acceptable for zines?
-- Someone from the group of people that everyone's always complaining about being lumped together in the same online gallery exhibitions.
Per Nicholas O'Brien: "One such criticism of the overall impact of these spaces comes from the striking similarity of artists shown in these venues."
It's not that the artists are similar to each other, it's that the shows are similar for including the same group over and over. When one of these artists criticizes the work of another (as happened in Paddy Johnson's GIF show last year), ugly name calling quickly commences.