Tulosta sivu3-08 In English


The critics, the curators and the lifestyle change of art

taavakasvot Everyone who is actively working with contemporary media knows that the status of traditional art criticism has been marginalized radically, especially in the newspapers within the last ten years. The space for writing and the interest of the publisher have shrunk and the internet has exploded.

This is an international phenomenon, which the art critic of the British newspaper The Guardian, Adrian Searle, has characterized in the following way: “They blame the internet and the rise of the blogger. They blame the dumbing-down of newspapers and the replacement of criticism with the sparkling, if vapid, preview featurette. – – Artists are creative, and creative is sexy and good. Critics are a comedown.”

“Some have hair sprouting from their ears [these kinds of individuals can certainly be found in Finland as well]. They’re always complaining; they’re untrustworthy, they are full of hate and spite and they make everything all so complicated, when all we’re really trying to do is sell a lifestyle. Fuck ‘em”, Searle was ironizing (The Guardian 18th of March 2008).

One art critic gentleman of a very mature age, holding a commission of trust, was very much against me, valuing me or especially prizing me this spring. Apparently his view on art criticism is such that the only form of it is the traditional review.

Of course according to this kind of a definition these columns, for example, are a hundred percent uncritical. As for this view I am not interested in its substance (I cannot see any) but in its ideology instead.

In my view the content of art criticism and all the definitions of it always contain ideologies, which are conscious, unconscious, systematic or fragmentary. According to my own definition, all value judgements either in the printed or electronic media can be regarded as criticism.

Perhaps some of the people sitting in numerous committees are in need of a lifestyle change? Perhaps it is in vain to keep up with a fixation with old ideals, if the reality does not offer anything to support them?

The death of art criticism has been discussed up to the point of lethal boredom, but what if we started looking at art life and all the unused new opportunities?

“We should get rid of stereotypical images of star curators”, Kaisa Heinänen, the founding member, secretary and board member of the Finnish Curators’ Association says. Sponsors and other people responsible for funding should realize that hardly anyone lives on art criticism, not to talk about curating. But there is a need for them, especially after the explosion of the biennials and the art market.

Adrian Searle has a comment on “bad art”: “Some critics think that it is great to be writing now, as if they were praising the fact how great it was to be an undertaker during the 14th century plague.”

Taava Koskinen