Subjects v Objects

JJ Charlesworth & James Heartfield

First published in Art Monthly, March 2014

Recently, objects seem to have taken on a life of their own. This man thinks that another slice of cake will make him happy. That woman thinks that a better school will get her son good qualifications. This man has thousands of girlfriends stored on his hard drive. This girl thinks that a Hollister top will make people like her. Goods fly off the shelves. Exports boost Britain.

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Criticism v Critique

The problem of what art criticism is, can or should be continues to be an itch everyone wants to scratch, and it’s spreading.

At Tate Britain in December, for the newly established annual lecture of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) UK, US academic James Elkins cheerfully reasserted his argument that there is currently no clear definition or common understanding 01 what art criticism is or does, no canon of art critical writing, and no coherent methodology that might define it as a discipline. A few days earlier, to mark its 20th anniversary, the Berlin-based journal Texte Zur Kunst had put on a conference (published in its March issue) to address ‘the fundamental question of the relationship between art criticism and social critique’, at which publisher Isabelle Graw proposed a ‘rethinking of methodology’ at a time when ‘art critics and art historians tend to opt for an eclectic mix of methods without ever reflecting them explicitly’. In October last year, Irish magazine Circa relaunched itself — albeit briefly — as an online publication, its first issue devoted to examining the magazine’s role as a space for ‘criticism and criticality’. Meanwhile, coming out of Canada, the Vancouver-based magazine Fillip published the results of a 2009 forum, in its collection Judgment and Contemporary Art Criticism, with contributors as diverse as Tirdad Zolghadr, Tom Morton, Maria Fusco and Diedrich Diedrichsen, with an afterword by the prolific and now seemingly ubiquitous Elkins. Continue reading “Criticism v Critique”