Round Table: The Present Conditions of Art Criticism OCTOBER

Round Table: The Present Conditions of Art Criticism

OCTOBER 100, Spring 2002, pp. 200–228. © 2002 October Magazine, Ltd. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

George Baker, Rosalind Krauss, Benjamin Buchloh, Andrea Fraser, David Joselit, James Mayer, Robert Storr, Hal Foster, Helen Molesworth, John Miller

전반적으로 모든 패널이 동의하는 부분은, 현재 비평은 분명히 위기를 맞이했다는 거. 

David Joselit: I think it’s important to think about what criticism does discursively. Traditionally its function has been to judge or to parse. To respond to Benjamin’s opening salvo, I think that criticism does still exist as an interpretive mode, but what is hard to maintain today is criticism as a mode of judgment that carries weight. Interestingly, I think that the popular press is where in fact those kinds of judgments matter today. So now you get the YBAs as a kind of popular cultural entity.(203)

James Meyer: I’d like to raise the issue of practice: specifically, the relationship of artistic practice to criticism. It seems that a lot of practice out there is uninterested in criticism. One has the sense that practice is not involved in the critical issues and the kinds of critical debates that a lot of us have thought about, and that so many of the people at this table have generated. There seems to be a loss of interest or belief in criticism as something necessary and valuable for its own sake, something to follow. And (although the connection is perhaps less than obvious) we see a disinterest in criticality as well: an artistic method engaged with critical thought, with critical issues. Much work at present does not bother to speak back to critics and to criticism. (203)

Robert Storr: If criticism is not being taking seriously, part of the fault may be that the things being said, or at least the language and style that are used to say them, are no longer effective or useful. If you want to pursue certain kinds of arguments and make certain kinds of cases, you must realize that many younger artists are disenchanted by the assumptions and tone of criticism that dominated the seventies, eighties, and to an extent the early nineties.(203)

Buchloh: We don’t want to exclude academia from our considerations; in fact that was part of Andrea’s caveat to your earlier comment. But I would like to return to my earlier point about the withering away of criticism. This was partially initiated in the context of Conceptual art. I could flip the entire logic of what I said earlier by focusing on the fact that it is from within the purview of the most radical artistic practices of the sixties and their subsequent developments that not only the commodity-status of the work of art or its institutional frame are targeted—one of the targets of this work was also the secondary discursive text that attached itself to artistic practice. Criticism and all secondary discourse were vehemently attacked. That is something we should not underestimate or forget. So we can construct a more dialectical image of the contemporary situation by saying that readers’ competence and spectatorial competence had reached a level where the meddling of the critic was historically defied and denounced. (205)

Buchloh: I am trying to say is that we should construct a more dialectical reading, one that acknowledges that the withering away of the secondary discourse of criticism was also an integral part of the rise of the spectator/speaker/reader to competence. (206)

Miller: One thing that has replaced the notion of significant and monolithic artistic shifts is the invocation of youth culture, particularly in the glossy magazines where there seems to be a two-tiered system of focus: either older artists are affirmed as quasi-masters, or the artist is young and their work has to have some kind of relation to D.J. culture or something similar. This seems to be how style is codified in a more definitive manner; the invocation of youth culture becomes almost obligatory unless one is seen as a master. Andrea has analyzed this clearly—vis-à-vis Charles Saatchi’s style of collecting— in her “Sensation Chronicle.”* (218)


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