Friday, April 11, 2008

Juicy Feud Friday

In the March-April issue of FlashArt, there's a short article I was invited to write (they don't post the article on their website, unfortunately). In it I tried to deal calmly and rationally with the issues raised by the Tyler Green--Christian Viveros-Fauné controversy. Knowing, and greatly admiring, both of the main protagonists in this incident, I tried to avoid discussing personalities in rounding up what I saw as the more interesting aspects of ethics, criticism and journalism (the last two of which I'm not convinced are the same).

I hereby acknowledge how futile my feeble attempt to facilitate a graceful endnote to the issue has proven.

Jump to the Brooklyn Rail's March issue, where James Kalm poured a nice gallon or two of petrol on the ambers by writing:
Most bloggers cheered, hailing Green for nailing an influential critic, and dealing Viveros-Fauné his comeuppance. Many members of the New York critical community just grumbled and circled the wagons. Some blamed the new pusillanimous management at the Voice for folding so fast. The final results, other than driving thousands of eyeballs to Modern Art Notes (Green’s site), and giving the fingers of countless bloggers a thorough workout, is yet to be seen. For anyone with local experience, the art world is and always has been nothing other than one giant knot of conflicting interests, whether political, financial, institutional, professional, sexual, or pharmaceutical. As a fan and champion of both the art blogosphere and the New York scene, I’m conflicted. Yes, it’s great to see the real world take action when prodded by the virtual, but, call me a chauvinist, I don’t think out-of-towners possess a realistically sensitive view of the subtle relationships that make up this particular milieu.
Mr. Green responded with a letter to the editor, which is published in the April issue of the Brooklyn Rail:
I appreciate James Kalm’s attention to the ongoing shift in arts journalism from dull, academic, little-read art magazines to nimbler, smarter, internet-based publishing as discussed in his March, 2008 article “The Ethics of Aesthetics.” Unfortunately his article was riddled with errors and sloppy reporting.
There's a good deal of classic snark in Tyler's response, including this gem:
(As part of this Gotham-centric harangue Mr. Kalm confesses that he is a chauvinist because he thinks that people who don’t live in New York are too clueless to write about New York. Finally I agree with him: he is certainly a provincial chauvinist.)
But the fur really flies when Mr. Viveros-Fauné replies, also published in the April issue of the Brooklyn Rail. He begins with what is essentially my argument [edited to include only the point I'd make in all this]:
People read critics for their insights and judgements.... The record, and a fine one it is, of people having more than one interest in the world of culture is legendary: from Rimbaud to Pound to Kenneth Tynan to nearly the entire NY Review of Books to, say, Robert Storr (a writer, an art commentator always, and recently the head of the Venice Biennial, an event with nuclear effects on the market as opposed to the two new young fairs I contribute to).
But then Christian unleashes with the sort of writing that drove me to admire his talents in the first place (even as he steps right into the center of personalityville):
The idea of his absurd posturing as some kind of crusading policeman of the art world couldn’t be more risible, except a not-very-acute if well-intentioned editor-in-chief of VV bought it. Appointing him watchdog of the art world would be like asking Roy Cohn to watch a kindergarten class in Costa Rica. What’s more obvious even is that, like Hilton Perez (or maybe, come to think of it, Hilton Perez crossed with Elliot Spitzer), blogging for Tyler Greene aims principally to effect one single change above all others: to promote Tyler Greene, whose sole, obsessive, one-note, pulingly censorious idea recently had him objecting to the participation of folks like Jerry Saltz and Peter Schjeldahl at an Obama rally. Really! Now what can you say about that? That Greene is for people expressing their opinions, political, artistic, or otherwise? Or that he’s the Mickey Mouse version of a bully, squealing to high heaven for a fight in the hopes that the full playground will actually protect him from the effects of one.
Just the other day I was complaining to someone that there are no great public battles in the art world anymore (nothing like the classics we still see among literary figures, such as the feud between Wolfe and Mailer). With no well-defined camps beating each other up in successive addendums to their manifestos, a casual observer would be forgiven for thinking the entire system took Rodney King's plea to heart and decide to just all get along.

The fact that this feud is about criticism and not art doesn't make it any less juicy to my mind. It's all very good food for thought and classic snarky writing. Knowing both men have much more pressing matters to attend to in their lives, I don't actually wish it to continue...that is, unless they promise to keep it as fresh and funny. Just so long as no one puts an eye out.

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95 Comments:

Blogger Tyler said...

My letter to the editor of the Rail was only tangentially about the Voice situation. (Which is over. Someone broke the rules, the paper found out about it, there were consequences. End of story.)

My letter was primarily a response to Loren Munk's essay and a request that the Rail correct several of the errors therein. To date they have not done so.

4/11/2008 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Fair enough. I'm imagining a feud where none really exists. A man can dream, can't he?

4/11/2008 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

I feel safe now.

4/11/2008 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Bambino said...

Now, let's get some drinks than

;)

4/11/2008 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

Appointing him watchdog of the art world would be like asking Roy Cohn to watch a kindergarten class in Costa Rica.

(wow: knives out)

Maybe comparable to the feud between Robert Storr and the Okwui Enwezor, Francesco Bonami et al. that's been running in the past two issues of Artforum (cf: letters) and promises to continue for at least another few issues. Bonami gets points for "trenchant" btw... Or else the McEviley/Ruben fandango (now Artforum history)... something in the NYC drinking water?

4/11/2008 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The art world has consistently lacked transparency. Most of us rail against the insider trafficking of lawmaker becoming lobbyist becoming lawmaker. If Tyler wants to promote transparency in the art world, more power to him.
ml

4/11/2008 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

This may strike some as irrelevant: I'm happy to know that some of us in the arts can still write with an acid-tipped pen. When we're all dead and gone, the popular histories of this peculiar little era will undoubtedly be the ones worth bothering to read for both insight and barbed wit.

4/11/2008 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Is the Rail deliberately trying to let CVF look stupid here? The have a mystifyingly lax editorial policy if they're going to print his letter of comment complete with its consistent misspellings of Tyler's name. (Dude, it's Green! Like the color!) CVF acted flippant when Tyler called him out on his obvious conflicts. He continues to see himself as part of a long tradition of critic/creators and critic/producers and therefore above some basic questions of journalistic ethics. He cluelessly compares of Modern Art Notes to Myspace, impugns the journalistic integrity of Geoff Edgers for calling him out on his nonsense, and generally throws a hissy fit instead of refuting the concerns that got him canned in the first place. Ed, what about this shrill prattling "drove [you] to admire his talents in the first place"?

4/11/2008 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Ed, what about this shrill prattling "drove [you] to admire his talents in the first place"?

If there's one thing in this world I'm quite confident I don't need to do, it's to defend my tastes in writing, Franklin. If CVF's not your cup of tea, so be it.

I'm happy to know that some of us in the arts can still write with an acid-tipped pen.

Indeed!

4/11/2008 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Molly Stevens said...

CVF is a writer with personality, with opinions. He's not afraid to call it like it is.

I feel that so long as CVF is upfront about what he's involved in - which I believe he is - then the point is moot.

The world is not a neat, tidy, compartmentalized place. Nor is the art world for that matter.

4/11/2008 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Molly Stevens said...

CVF is a writer with personality, with opinions. He's not afraid to call it like it is.

I feel that so long as CVF is upfront about what he's involved in - which I believe he is - then the point is moot.

The world is not a neat, tidy, compartmentalized place. Nor is the art world for that matter.

4/11/2008 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

For the record, I unequivocally side with the opinion stated by Christian Viveros-Fauné in the Brooklyn Rail. Mr. Greene is out to further his own agenda, lookie I got Grace Glueck fired! Is the NY art community any better off because of these events? I do not think so, I don’t think "transparency" has increased one bit. While I do not dismiss the truth what was reported, I do not think the results were of any benefit to the NY art community.

4/11/2008 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

"Green," folks...no extra "e" at the end. Not that it changes what your point is or any of that, but spelling it correctly will make me cringe less. :-)

Thanks,
Eduard Winckelmann

4/11/2008 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Ed,
Thanks for noticing, and opening this thread.

When I wrote the “Ethics of Aesthetics” essay that appeared in the March issue of the “Brooklyn Rail” I had no intention of disparaging the likes of Mr. Green or any of the many other players in the story. As I saw it, he was a part of a very interesting set of circumstances that symbolize a major shift in the perceptions of the “mainstream” regarding art criticism, journalistic ethics, and the increasing influence of the internet. By the way, no one else has written stating they have any problems with the essay.

I invite readers to check out the original essay and then, read Green’s and Virveros-Fauné’s responses and to judge for themselves if Green has received a fair chance to express his perceived slights and to “set the record straight” regarding his opinions as to the mistakes in the piece. Although they don’t feature a regular letters section, I went out of my way using whatever meager pull I have with the editorial staff to get them to publish both letters without a response from myself. As Ververos-Fauné mentions, it would be nice if Green would publish letters of disagreement at his site as well.

I wrote Green a personal note when I received a copy of his letter to the editor stating that I thought he’d intentionally misinterpreted the intent of the piece (for reasons that seem more defensive than factual). His assertion that the piece made two arguments: 1. regarding the ethics of the New York art scene and 2. that I disapprove of the influence of bloggers are straw men. (Check out the Kalm Report on “The Blogger’s Conference at Red Dot”, “The Bloggers Show” and the other positive articles and mentions I’ve published.) If there is a main argument in “The Ethics of Aesthetics” it’s that art critics aren’t journalists.

I make no pretences towards “journalism” and even question the title of “critic” though both titles have been applied to my practice. My main goal is to open people’s eyes regarding art, and to encourage critical thought and discourse.

I could go on and refute point by point much of the letter but to spare the interminable tediousness of that, I’ll finish with Green’s incomprehension at why some one would use a pen-name. God, thank you, where would we be with out a straight man.

Loren James Munk AKA James Kalm AKA The Guy on the Bike

P.S. I root for the Yankees too!

4/11/2008 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

If there's one thing in this world etc etc etc...

Fair enough, I just don't see it.

He's not afraid to call it like it is.

That's only a virtue if he possesses the discernment to call it like it is.

4/11/2008 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

I'm actually surprised at how this issue met the silence it did, and am glad to hear this response from CVF. Here is a posting by Jeff Weinstein, which takes it up as a labor issue - a serious one, given freelance pay for art reviews. You know what I'm talking about. This was the only writing I ran across that expressed discomfort with the situation. Until reading this terrific essay by James Kalm! Thank you.

My take on blogger silence is that blog folk are enamored with TG's blogroll (disclaimer - I'm not on it!) and that conflict of interest shuts them up. Prove me wrong.

4/11/2008 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Prove me wrong.

Or don't, please. I'm totally comfortable with folks debating the issues here, but let's not call for open season on anyone, especially on a blog that permits anonymous comments. Thanks. e_

4/11/2008 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Hey, this is just like the Cedar Tavern ‘cept everyone’s drinking coffee in their underwear.

4/11/2008 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

‘cept everyone’s drinking coffee in their underwear.

Arghhh!!!! My mind's eye!!! It burns...it burns!!!

:-)

4/11/2008 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Prove me wrong.

I'll answer that. Tyler's work is hardly above criticism, but he has been made the subject of moronic invective ("lookie I got Grace Glueck fired!") for reporting on verifiable facts in the art world. There is a much-needed conversation that should take place about whether the art world has come to accept professional conventions that are intolerable to journalism and probably most other fields of legal employment. If people (including CVF) harp on whether Tyler is a big meanie, they get to avoid having that conversation.

I look at CVF's situation as an economics problem. One the one hand, the Voice had a well-liked art critic with crucial roles in two art fairs and a Marie-Antoinette-like attitude towards potential conflicts of interest. On the other hand, it has its credibility as a newspaper, which is its only holding. It was probably an easy decision, however unpleasant.

4/11/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Beth E. Wilson said...

While I appreciated Tyler's critique of CVF's apparent conflict of interest, it also seemed a bit of killing the ant with a baseball bat to get him fired. Why not just clarify, when appropriate, with a disclaimer?

On another front, there's a much more egregious (and given the players, more amusing) kerfluffle going on
here.

4/11/2008 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

Hysterically funny! Thanks again, James.

Ed, I think you are mistaking a person for an issue, which is that such a thing as conflict of interest might also exist in blogger culture. Come on, there are so many people who show up here and also write art criticism for the magazines and newspapers - they know what the pay rate is for an art review - and so much silence! I think that this event had more of an impact on people than they are willing to show, a wariness of the choices that they make, and there has been reluctance to enter into a conversation about it for fear of such things as "perceived conflict of interest," to use the words of the VV editors. If you are wanting to write and getting more hits in the blogroll majors is going to help you to do that, it just might have an effect on what you are and are not willing to say. Secure in your own daily hits you might not experience such a conflict, Ed, and thankfully you have invited the debate. But please notice that it was you, you have security that others don't..

Conflict of interest is a major sticky issue. In a panel on the topic recently, for example, someone asked 'Why doesn't anyone ever regard an artist who writes art criticism as having conflict of interest?" We simply take it for granted that it's not, out of respect for knowledge, but why? What else is taken for granted?

I don't agree that someone has to be a critic here in NYC to understand this, conflicts of interest are everywhere, including a desire for blogosphere stats.

Franklin, that was a nice even-handed response.

4/11/2008 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

‘cept everyone’s drinking coffee in their underwear.

OMG! Can you see me? Do you have a webcam in my room? You just made me spill my coffee.

Oriane

4/11/2008 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

There is a much-needed conversation that should take place about whether the art world has come to accept professional conventions that are intolerable to journalism and probably most other fields of legal employment.

I think that conversation needs to begin with an acknowledgement, however, that all of the constructs of other fields of legal employment are both always evolving and artificial in most ways. By that I mean to suggest, art is by its nature, outside that artificial realm in that its highest goal is revealing truth.

One thing I know from being the guy inbetween artists and collectors, for example, is that while both sides wish to be taken seriously, both sides also want to be free to enjoy what they do without too many rules (collectors have enough rules in their day jobs...collecting is how they relax...and artists see rules as inhibiting their creativity). Given that this anti-rule preference is the foundation of this particular realm, when we're talking about the segments of it in which conflicts of interest are possible (i.e., if there wasn't any money involved, who would care about any of this), it's no wonder to me that folks get their knickers in a twist when rules are expected to be followed so thoroughly. "We were having fun, damn it....why are you being such a party pooper?"

In other words, if you strictly regulate the art world (and that probably extends somewhat to its criticism), I suspect you'll find a shift that will manifest itself in the type of artificial constructs or enlightened false consciousness (see Sloterdijk) that help humans tolerate/survive the absurd hypocrisies of other legal employment. If you want something closer to significant "truths" to be possible in this realm, it's perhaps OK to tolerate a bit of play (i.e., fewer rules) on all sides, no?

Ed, I think you are mistaking a person for an issue, which is that such a thing as conflict of interest might also exist in blogger culture.

Fair enough. I just wanted to get out ahead of anyone interpreting that as open season on anyone. Thanks for the careful clarifications.

4/11/2008 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan T. D. Neil said...

Does it strike anyone as ironic that these "feuds" have been aired in the print publications that often go dismissed by bloggers?

The set of letters published in the last few Artforums between Storr, Enwezor, et al have been fascinating, disgusting, hysterical and, well, simply great reads. I imagine that had they transpired on some blog or another no one would pay attention.

Blogs provide a much needed forum to hash these things over (a la the Cedar Tavern comment; NB: I'm wearing pants). But print is in many ways an investment in the endurance of thought, and the kind of writing and criticism aired there at least attempts to aspire to larger more enduring set of statements, that reflect as much on the individual writer as on the publication in which they may be found (a key, but often forgotten point). (As for internet-based publishing being "smarter" as Green contends, I have yet to see it in the art world--and this from someone who splits time between both platforms.)

4/11/2008 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

Woo hoo! This is so much fun! I'm with you, Edward--the romance of big, public, and most of all articulate feuds going on in the art blogosphere appeals to my sense of nostalgia. Spare me from sordid, vulgar, illiterate spats, is all I ask.

And yes, I think the conversation about conflicts of interest in the art world is long overdue. CVF accusing Tyler of self-promotion is a real 'duh' moment. Like everyone else in the world is completely innocent of this?

4/11/2008 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re Beth's 11:32 comment about the other kerfuffle,

That Robinson/Finch situation at artnet had to be done on purpose. Since they have both (if I remember correctly) gone on record expressing contempt and scorn for Green's whistle-blowing on CVF, this is obviously an in-your-face response to the whole conflict of interest thing. Definitely juicy though. Especially the secret sauce.

anono

4/11/2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

The Guy on the Bike said, My main goal is to open people’s eyes regarding art, and to encourage critical thought and discourse.

Hooray!

The new expanded art world is having teething problems. While the number of galleries, collectors and artists has increased significantly with the expanded influx of capital since 2002, it appears that the number of people in the critical community is still playing catch up. Meanwhile, the journalistic power was still consolidated in just a few hands. Enter Google, with easy blogging access to anyone interested, and which potentially has become a component for a new solution redefining the critical space.

The real problem is not transparency, it is not some trumped up conflict of interest, it is the lack of true dialog. When people say "transparency," it’s a code word we use as a form of self defense to explain why we aren’t in this years "..v.." I do believe that there is increasing transparency in pricing, the amounts of money involved, have made this a commodity which can be sold.

The real issue is that the artworld needs to expand, not contract its sources of "critical thought and discourse." The problem is that the average reader cannot tell if they are being fed a bill of goods, whether or not the writer has an agenda to promote his or her favorites or just happens to admire the work.

It is the bloggers which have stepped into the void here, to potentially expand the dialogue. The real challenge for bloggers writing about art, is to be able to take the discourse above the mere nit picking and offer another point of view. It is fairly easy to complain, or dismiss other artwork with a vocabulary of about six words. It is another thing to provide a fresh viewpoint, which does not just reiterate the gallery press release, to have an original opinion.

So in the current quest for power in the blogosphere, the muckrakers are ahead, but I suspect with time people will recognize writers who are actually making a contribution to the critical thinking of the moment. When there are more well thought out opinions, reviews, or critical discourses published, the artworld will attain a different type of transparency, one where those interested have more than one option to select from and consider.

4/11/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger John Hovig said...

Art reviews are not journalism. They are opinion pieces. CVF mentions the similarity in his letter.

The media needs to start treating art reviews like op-ed pieces, and start putting bios and disclaimers at the bottom. Many magazines have little contributors' bios in or near their masthead. (Architectural Digest comes immediately to mind). In that scenario, if Green felt that a conflict of interest were not sufficiently described in CVF's bio, he could have demanded its correction, and the case would have been quickly closed.

On the other hand I feel interviews and art-related stories are in fact journalism, as they involve compiling facts, describing events and people, and most importantly, framing those facts for public consumption. The more I think about this story, especially after reading CVF's letter to the editor, the more I realize that the interview was a setup.

Tyler doesn't do many interviews. Hardly any. CVF was a pretty obscure player at the time. The interview was an excuse to get CVF fired. It was a pre-meditated hit. Maybe that's fair. Journalism is a necessary corrective sometimes. I take no position on whether it was fair or not. I'm just saying I think that's what it was.

What's not fair, however, is that Tyler once complained on anaba that he was the victim of a blog ambush. I hope Mr Green is not expecting a courtesy he is unwilling to extend himself.

4/11/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

art is by its nature, outside that artificial realm in that its highest goal is revealing truth.

I would really not characterize art that way, but that will have to wait for another conversation.

while both sides wish to be taken seriously, both sides also want to be free to enjoy what they do without too many rules

But this is not a question of regulation, which I oppose in most forms, but a matter of the clearance-sale prices on crediblity in the art world. When Artnet provides a forum for Charlie Finch, and Finch uses that platform to disseminate doltish bluster, doubtful regard rushes into the publication like seawater into a breached hull. Artnet is apparently willing to live with this. The Voice is not. Being taken seriously requires efforts towards that end, adherence to principles, and - here's where CVF blew it - sensitivity towards potential problems and sufficient diplomatic finesse to reassure people who question the facts surrounding your integrity. People tolerate all kinds of hijinks in the art world and its too bad that their toleration extends this far into its practices.

The interview was an excuse to get CVF fired. It was a pre-meditated hit.

This contradicts the facts as stated by Tyler. Someone find the link please - I have to dash out.

4/11/2008 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

John Hovig said...Art reviews are not journalism. They are opinion pieces. CVF mentions the similarity in his letter.

Yes: I was going to point that out but you beat me to it.

On the other hand I feel interviews and art-related stories are in fact journalism, as they involve compiling facts, describing events and people, and most importantly, framing those facts for public consumption.

good distinction, well worth making here.

The interview was an excuse to get CVF fired. It was a pre-meditated hit.

Nah, that's ridiculous: that would be conspiracy to murder; what happened was more like a robbery gone wrong (manslaughter). Maybe that's a good moral to this tale: one has to be very careful before one starts pointing fingers.

jonathan t.d. neil said... The set of letters published in the last few Artforums between Storr, Enwezor, et al have been fascinating, disgusting, hysterical and, well, simply great reads.

Thanks for reiterating, jonathan t.d. neil -- they are all that and more. I first put my money on Storr, but then found myself back-peddling after the second crop of letters came out. (no matter: no one else seems to be placing bets.) The thing I both love and hate about Storr's letters is that he "tells it like it is", and reveals so much he opens himself up to further attack. of his attackers, the only truly lovable one is Bonami (pithy!). otherwise it's Revenge of the Nerds, á la global art world. As for blogger silence on these matters, if that section of Artforum were available online I'm sure the Letters would have gotten mucho extra mileage in the blogo-tubes. But who here has the time to manually type in long passages? (uh, myself excluded when conveying the words of Smithson...). Ahh, that arbitrary editor-in-chief: cut 'n paste.

4/11/2008 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous JL said...

I think that conversation needs to begin with an acknowledgement, however, that all of the constructs of other fields of legal employment are both always evolving and artificial in most ways.

To be sure, but the Village Voice is to be forgiven if it thinks that, in evaluating its employees, the constructs of the field of journalism should be paramount.

I mostly agree with Franklin. On the side issue of Christian Viveros-Fauné's writing, I do enjoy a poison pen, but it seems to me that he ends by merely sputtering in a way that doesn't do him or his arguments credit (the swipes at Geoff Edgers are also rather ugly, though I'd guess he'll be mostly amused.)

Since Tyler gave the bottom line assessment in the first comment's parenthetical, why not consider a different question: where should the lines get drawn in determining when a situation has risen to the level of a meaningful conflict of interest, and what to do about it? After all, Viveros-Fauné isn't entirely wrong when he points to engagé critics past and present. It surely wouldn't have been a problem if he had been writing for a different sort of publication, one comfortable with that mode, perhaps one with a polemical stance of its own. But he wasn't, and so he was removed. I understand his bitterness, but he's really going after the wrong target.

Lastly, lest James Kalm continue to believe that no one has any problems with his essay, I should note that I found his thesis--that this and other incidents revealed that "a valid possibility for the blogosphere [had] evolved: that of moralistic watchdog, in essence, an art world 'Bullshit Detector'"--to be overstated at best and much closer to false. Tyler could have posted about Viveros-Fauné every day; if other journalists, including the Voice editors, didn't agree with him, nothing would have happened. And ultimately these sorts of controversies make up a very small part of what happens on art blogs, whether Tyler's or anyone else's. Also, I should save some content for my own damn blog.

4/11/2008 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" to explain why we aren’t in this years "..v.." "

I must not be in this year's "v" because I don't know what it is.

u kan splane it 2 me?
k thnx

Oriane

4/11/2008 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

CFV should be cut some major slack re: his bitterness and apparent need of target practice; the man lost his job, and we're sitting here yammering away, apparently still in our underwear.

4/11/2008 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did he really "lose his job", or was he given a choice (you can't write for us if you are running the fairs), and decided he'd rather be with the fairs?

I wish he'd stayed with the Voice, but don't have any sympathy for him.

4/11/2008 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

" to explain why we aren’t in this years "..v.." "

"..v.." is whatever you wanted to be in but aren't, or the grant you applied for but didn't get. Those things, the disappointments that are part of life. Sometimes they happen for the reasons we expect, more often than not they happen for some totally unrelated reason or just pure chance.

It’s not unrelated to the odd discussion over whether or not a gallery’s choice to give a time slot to a bunch of MFA grads makes any difference by denying that time to any other artist. If you think about it statistically, ones chance of haven been chosen for that slot were about the same as winning the lottery.

4/11/2008 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love ongoing feuds in letters to the editor! I can't believe I've missed this one since I let my subscription to Artforum lapse. Anyone have it scanned or retyped anywhere?

Thanks,

Oriane (total letters junkie) (and still don't know what this year's "v" is. Anyone?)

4/11/2008 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, thanks George.

So "v" is the new "x"?

O

4/11/2008 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

Did he really "lose his job", or was he given a choice

some choice!

4/11/2008 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

So "v" is the new "x"?

Ya nose the reason? aesthetics?

But, I starting to giggle to myself thinking a bunch of you are afraid you missed out on the "..v.." show. :-)

4/11/2008 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Why is it nobody trusts people anymore?

I can understand Tyler's view, he's down there in Wash DC where nobody can be trusted.

What we all need is a little hope.

4/11/2008 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous JL said...

Not that the comparison is completely apt, but it's worth recalling that conflicts of interest are sometimes among the reasons cited as to why we're supposed to regard Clement Greenberg as history's greatest monster.

4/11/2008 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger BAD said...

CVF has an indisputable point that journalism and criticism are different disciplines, but Green, whose idea of criticism is telling us that Olafur Eliasson reminds him of Pieter de Hooch, is never going to acknowledge this. And in his letter to the Rail Green continues to make outrageous statements that CVF "may be using the newspaper as a front for that individual's private interests," which is the art world's equivalent of "Hillary Clinton may have ordered Vince Foster's murder." What kind of journalistic ethics is that?

4/11/2008 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

The difficulty I have with all this is that to my knowledge, there was no "conflict if interest" that ever occurred.

What seems to be the case was the potential for conflict of interest. Since art criticism, as Hovig noted, is an opinion, anything a critic says can be viewed as potentially a conflict of interest. It seems to me that the papers are more concerned with being sued than trying to find a reasonable set of guidelines which would prevent actual conflict of interest to occur by recusing them in these situations.

What we need is an APT test, if it comes up blue, go to jail, don’t collect $200

4/11/2008 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

i am too busy to read everything at the moment. But did any of you check out today's NYT? Specifically the Escapes section? Lets all meet down here and we will discuss this floating on the Ichetuknee! CVF and Mr. Green(e) can share the same inner-tube!

Also, who is in on having the next Blogger show in Ed's bathroom? :)

4/11/2008 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

The original CVF story was broken by Walter Robinson on September 19th in his “round-up” article at artnet.com. He’d obviously just smoozed with Christian and got the scoop about VOLTA. There was no insinuation of conflict or questions of journalistic or editorial appropriateness. Hell, it seemed like Walter was awed by the kid’s gumption (he also commented on an upcoming feature interview with Peter Schjeldahl, another coup)

The Village Voice of today is not the VV of fifteen or twenty years ago (one of the top three cultural positions in the nation?). They recently sold-out to some conglomerate from Florida that print shopper’s guides and have been rife with all kinds of labor and editorial problems.

About a year ago the great Irving Sandler wrote an open letter that was published in the Rail where he identified the “crisis in criticism”. A ton of responses were published, this is all part of that same “crisis”. (Nobody takes critics serious anymore waaaaaaa!)

I’ve never met Tyler Green (did I get the spelling right?) but I visited MAN yesterday and dug a posting about a David Park painting and a lady from Texas that was making Futurist paintings in the late forties. Maybe I’m weird but I don’t want to shut up anybody, or draw a line saying who’s in and who’s out. People have to be educated enough to see and understand what they’re looking at and what they’re reading and being told. We don’t need externally enforced codes, we need an art educated populous.

4/11/2008 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

People have to be educated enough to see and understand what they’re looking at and what they’re reading and being told. We don’t need externally enforced codes, we need an art educated populous.

Hooray again.

There are so many exhibitions out there that we really need more people writing about them. Anything that works against this I oppose.

4/11/2008 01:29:00 PM  
Anonymous JL said...

The original CVF story was broken by Walter Robinson on September 19th in his “round-up” article at artnet.com. He’d obviously just smoozed with Christian and got the scoop about VOLTA. There was no insinuation of conflict or questions of journalistic or editorial appropriateness.

Well, nevermind then--if it meets Walter Robinson's standards, it must be okay.

4/11/2008 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger Tyler said...

Green continues to make outrageous statements that CVF "may be using the newspaper as a front for that individual's private interests," which is the art world's equivalent of "Hillary Clinton may have ordered Vince Foster's murder."

If I had written that, then the anonymous commenter would have a valid point. I did not write that. However I congratulate the commenter on a creative cut-and-paste job.

4/11/2008 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to point out a while back that whoever said that Tyler rarely does interviews is mistaken. Whether you approve or disapprove of what Tyler did, using that erroneous statement to back up the argument that this was a "pre-meditated hit" is just wrong and starts to sound a little paranoid or at least alarmist (it's a conspiracy! Pre-meditated!). He does a lot of interviews, some of them long and in-depth, and sometimes extending into several installments. This is one thing a blog can do more easily than a print venue because a blogger can take as much space as s/he needs. And Tyler is good at interviewing. He obviously got CVF to let his hair down, to feel relaxed and candid; whether or not you agree with what Tyler did with that info afterwards, that's good interviewing. In the spirit of not ganging up on anyone, let's keep in mind that things are not all right or wrong; there are shades and nuances and good points to be made on both sides of this issue.

Oriane

4/11/2008 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cedar Tavern: cargo shorts, green tea.

4/11/2008 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At first I thought, yeah, conflict of interest...but wait a minute...it's not like being the director of one of a million satellite art fairs is such a powerful position in the art world, and the man does need to have a day job if he's going to be a critic. So where's the beef?

4/11/2008 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger John Hovig said...

Oriane and Joy - You might be right about Tyler's interviews. CVF in his letter called it an "ambush," and it struck a chord with me. The majority of Viveros-Faune's letter is disposable -- an editor would have slashed it by 80% at an print publication -- but there are some comments in there that I thought merited a look. I'm not a journalist or blogger, and Tyler doesn't allow comments on his blog (which reflects badly on him in my view), so all I can do is post on Ed's forum here. I still remember the day those interviews were published, and for some reason they seemed out of the ordinary even then. I've learned over the years to trust my instincts. I know that's not much, but without the moral protection afforded to me by a degree in journalism or a powerful blog, that's all I can say in my defense.

4/11/2008 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Alas, the Cedar Tavern is no more. Up until about a year or so ago there was one on University Place, it has closed.

4/11/2008 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Regarding the form of Christian’s letter and its unedited appearance, I made a request because of the nature it was received that the “Rail” publish it in as close to its original e-mail format as possible, misspellings and lack of punctuation etc. For all I know he typed it out with his thumbs on a blackberry in the VIP lounge after a couple of complimentary vodkas.

4/11/2008 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Could someone summarize the debate in AF for me? I am interested in the funny parts, as all I saw was a very long winded and humorless diatribe over something that I have little contact or knowledge of. Also, I have trouble concentrating in Barnes and Noble. Thks.

Also, CVF was writing for the VV - and as mentioned before, he could write for a glossy like The New York Magazine or Vanity Fair or Entertainment Weekly and not have the same issues. Why doesn't he do that? Not invited?

Also, let me be the first to congratulate everyone on their integrity and also, in the interest of false consciousness, who;s going to spend ten bucks to find out how money is ruining the art world? I;m arriving very late, so save em a seat.

4/11/2008 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Zip,
Comments were posted that you were missed at the Bloggers Conference at Red Dot. I’m sure we could have arranged for a weekend furlough if they’d sent a security escort and had you strapped to a dolly with a face mask like Hannibal Lecter.

4/11/2008 04:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of us in the arts tend to wear several hats. More than one gallerist has an outside job to ensure the rent is covered. CVF like most of us needs several hats to cover the bills. No biggie.

The question is disclosure. For instance, one of the commenters on the Edgers' site supports Artnet writer Finch writing a review of Artnet honcho Robinson's art exhibit. That commenter also writes for Artnet but doesn't mention it. When a reader finds that out, the credibility of the comment plunges.

Maybe this boils down to "insiders know all these interconnections and are cool with it" vs those of us who may not know all of the current gossip and feel a tad deceived. This is a symptom that the art world conversation has spread because of the internet, because the hegemony of NY isn't quite what it used to be.

As one commenter above noted, a brief by-line generally is enough to clue readers in.
ml

4/11/2008 04:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ml,

I agree that disclosure is important, and yes, many of us do wear several hats. But sometimes the situation is so convoluted and reciprocal that it should not be allowed to happen. Case in point: Several years ago, in San Francisco, prominent curator A included artist/writer B in a group show at an important non-profit exhibition space. When A started making art himself (and, because he was a prominent curator, of course he got a show as soon as he started making art; no dues-paying years for him), artist/writer B wrote a review of B's show for Art in America. No relationships were disclosed; I just happened to know the situation. That is just not right. And that would be one long-winded disclosure byline.

Oriane

4/11/2008 04:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dues paying years = ineffectual networking

4/11/2008 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Am I the only one who sees the humor in Charlie writing a review for Walter. Come on, everybody in the artworld knows the relationship between these two, how can anyone take this seriously?

4/11/2008 06:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point is exactly that Walter and Charlie know that we know, and know that we know that they know that we know, and do it anyhow -- because they are ABOVE THE LAW. And they want us to know it.

4/11/2008 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Aw come on, it's a joke, April Fools or something.

4/11/2008 06:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure it's a joke. But for them, it's also alpha male display. And A-R-R-O-G-A-N-C-E.

4/11/2008 06:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oriane,

That's one fine example. I can name at least six others over the past year. But I don't think Christian's situation is that convoluted. At least what I know of it. And therein lies the problem.....
ml

4/11/2008 06:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, a joke....among friends...and a friend told me:

Finch wrote a few weeks ago about Max Estenger, his close friend and the "in NY gossip" colaborator for Coagula, like himself at the time. (Who can forget the lawsuit!)(Reminder-Coagula: Most Art Sucks..., co-edited by WR and CF)

Also, WR wrote about a collector's big house and collection and his painting was hung, right there for all to see during the visit/inteview.

Oh yes, just boys, a joke...

All of this is of course, allegedly.

4/11/2008 07:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a) no one takes artnet seriously (nor have they ever)
b) no one takes charlie seriously (nor have they ever)
c) walter r. used to be a huge big metr0-px artist, but this is no longer the case and it will never be the case again (and he knows that).
d) wr is not really a "practicing" artist anymore, for crissakes those paintings are from the 80s!!! - he does not paint anymore!!! he is cleaning house!!!!
e) wr doesn't give a sh-t what anyone thinks. he's having some fun.

-- The Bard

4/11/2008 08:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Who can forget the lawsuit!)

What was the lawsuit?

4/11/2008 08:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a) I take artnet somewhat seriously (always have)
b) I take Charlie somewhat seriously (always have)

-- The Anonymous

4/11/2008 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

d) he's a late broomer?

4/11/2008 08:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say I'm a big James Kalm fan. I've learned a lot watching his videos and reading Ed's blog. Thanks guys!

4/11/2008 08:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Did he really "lose his job", or was he given a choice"

some choice!


Let's see, either

a. be a widely-respected art critic,(basically) the position Jerry Saltz had up to a year ago, in one of the most high-profile of such positions in NY, or

b. be an art fair director for two different art fairs, one of which is owned by Merchandise Mart - which also owns the Armory, and is a huge organizization with tons of opportunity - for what is probably a fairly good salary, with benefits.

Uh, yeah, some choice! My heart goes out to him in this time of need.

4/11/2008 08:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And no one is saying he is no longer "allowed" to write art criticism, right? There are plenty of outlets available. He can write for Artnet, he can write for magazines, he can start his own blog. I also enjoy his criticism, but it's ridiculous to pretend that he has been somehow muzzled, or is being prevented from writing about art. I don't get the "poor Christian" contingent. The guy's got it made. Nobody has lost anything, unless for some reason he is unwilling to write for any outlet except those that want to adhere to the strictest standards of journalism.

4/11/2008 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger the reader said...

I don't think there is much to be gained by creating a clear distinction between journalism and opinion, particularly in a polarized Fox vs. Micheal Moore kind of world. What's more important is a critical engagement with all the media we receive. If an arts writer produces a glowing review of one of her friends shows and that somehow convinces collectors that their work is worth buying then we need to ask questions about the criticality of the collectors themselves.

Sure the integrity of arts writers and journalists is a goal worth aspiring to, but really its the responsibility of every reader to be critical and question the motives of the writer of any piece that praises, trashes or in any way engages with a particular work. I see fostering that kind of criticality as being much more useful than trying to regulate or police perceived conflicts of interest.

4/11/2008 10:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone at the start of this thread mentioned lobbyists.
Isn't that Green's day job?

4/12/2008 01:09:00 AM  
Blogger CAP said...

I'm glad Zipthwung didn't show up at the Bloggers' Red Dot tea party. It would have been like the class truant turning up at a PTA meeting.

Zip is a free spirit, bless him.

As far as controversies go, I found the Storr Vs AF’s Venice Biennale Critics exchange a lot more interesting than Green’s point about vested or conflicting interests. Not that corruption of this kind isn’t a huge problem wherever there’s power, but was C V-F even a worthwhile target? What exactly in his criticism was untrue or misleading? No matter what other hats he wore, what omissions from his writing could be laid solely at the feet of his business interests, and not just personality or private taste? What critic does not have blind spots and favourites? Surely a better safeguard against unfair salesmanship is simply to be critical of what you read – especially when its criticism? Don’t take these things on face value. Don’t trust the teller before the tale. Separate description from opinion. Compare rival accounts, see for yourself.

If blogging has done anything, it’s made sure there is plenty of room for options and discussion.

If only for Zip’s sake -

The extended Storr rant in AF Jan08 really laid a few cards on the table in the globetrotting curator’s stakes. It was really just
straight bitchiness and kinda fun, but AF gave him around 7 pages! (about 3 times longer than most articles – and this supposedly just a ‘letter’). So no credit for him amongst ‘the contributors’, nor even in the table of contents. Maybe discontents is where he belonged. Anyway, from defending his VeniceBi decisions, he decides to go for the jugular rather than the jocular, and I think descends to their (implicitly, AF’s) level. The thing is way too long, too tedious, but he does land some devastating and not undeserved blows on Morgan, especially (airhead snot from Tate Modern) Enwezor and Bonami.

He starts off correcting a raft of inaccuracies (or lies) and then just can’t resist demolishing their positions, one by one. Well I mean the guy did spend a lot of time and effort getting this pinnacle to his career just the way he wanted it. The fact that critics then chose to criticise him seems to have struck him as not part of the deal, for some reason.

4/12/2008 01:48:00 AM  
Blogger concrete phone said...

If Tyler can't see the wit and good humor in leaving off the 'n' then where are we? Good stuff by all.

4/12/2008 07:02:00 AM  
Anonymous JL said...

In the March-April issue of FlashArt, there's a short article I was invited to write (they don't post the article on their website, unfortunately)

It's a bit late, but I have to say it: it's almost like they didn't think an online audience would be interested in this sort of thing.

4/12/2008 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger John Hovig said...

Tyler took the time to discuss this w/me by email on Friday. He took great pains to point out that if you simply followed the chronology of the interview as posted, and read the details revealed in the afterword, you'd realize that the crucial Part 3 was not published until after CVF and two editors at the V-V were given a chance to respond. I don't think it's breaking any confidences to say that he also pointed out to me that CVF had a hand in reviewing and in fact editing the text himself before publication.

4/12/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

In the sprit of transparency and full disclosure, we’d like to see the complete transcripts of those e-mails, your e-mail logs from the last two years, your medical history, with special emphasis on communicable diseases, your tax records for the last five years, every gallery person, curator, collector of critic you’ve spoken with, and a list of organizations you’re affiliated with. What’s your sexual orientation? Do you drink excessively or take any drugs ether proscribed or recreationally? What’s your ethnic background, your parent’s religion and were you ever in the military? And what exactly is your relationship with Mr. Green? (The phrase “breaking any confidences” seems to imply some conflict)

4/13/2008 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger kelli said...

I thought it was bizarre to target someone who might conceivably be unethical in the future when there are plenty of people who already have various social and professional conflicts of interest that have been documented to actually pop up in their writing. I remember him being fairly egalitarian in his older writing at New York Press, often going out of his way to review obscure out of the way shows. His first reviews for the Voice if anything suggested someone who was trying to express an individual critical voice as opposed to the party line. So far it was a bad review of Unmonumental ( which had been universally praised by others probably based on good will for the museum not the uneven curation of the show itself), a bad review of the Incomplete ( which I was included in so I'm hardly defending him out of bias) and a good review of Mala Iqbal ( an interestingly strange show that combined unlikely influences other critics might have skipped over). CVF didn't seem like the most deserving target and for that matter bloggers are not the fairest watchdogs as most blogs are specifically a form of self promotion. I was enjoying reading him. I think it's a shame.

4/13/2008 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger kelli said...

Actually I just remembered the Mala Iqbal review was Baker and most of CVF's reviews were negative but negativity isn't a bad thing necessarily.

4/13/2008 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

In a post above, Catherine Spaeth referred to a recent panel:

Conflict of interest is a major sticky issue. In a panel on the topic recently, for example, someone asked 'Why doesn't anyone ever regard an artist who writes art criticism as having conflict of interest?"

Further information on this panel would be much appreciated!

4/13/2008 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

Jennifer - I only vaguely recall reading it as a really offhand comment that everyone ignored, embedded I think in the panel discussions in The State Of Art Criticism, Elkins/Newman Routledge 2008, but I don't have the time to ransack the pages -

Let it stand then as my own observation, that an artist who writes about painting and in fact aims to sell their own has a certain complicated interest in writing about paintings. I happen to value artists writings (and actually quite a bit of time was spent in these panels discussing the success of artist's writings in the '60s and '70s, and the comparative lack of it today.) So I don't mean to belittle artists who write - but that's exactly my point.

We simply take for granted that there is no conflict of interest because we value the enterprise. It is a chosen position towards knowledge, and a standard that does not seem to extend to others. It wasn't that CVF was writing specifically about an artist he had some direct investment in, but that he was in a position in which such a conflict might possibly occur.

What is conflict of interest? It exists in varying degrees, surely. I like Kelli's comment above, that most blogs are a form of self-promotion. This is true. And so I raised the question about artists who write only to raise as an issue the things that we take for granted, and to put some pressure on how we might look at the discourse on blogs in relation to blogrolls and stats. My real thought was that bloggers are reluctant to be critical of a powerful blog node because of these interests. And Tyler Green in particular has proven to be formidable, so I wondered about the silence (even on the NAJP site there is a posting on which no comments were made.)

I also mentioned that this event has made people wary, and would like to add that this wariness is probably a good thing, but that it shouldn't be met by applause on the one hand and silence on the other.

4/13/2008 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger OPERATES said...

Don't always believe what you read... [wherever].
Discursive texts are usually persuasive, covering a wide range of issues, so on.
Donald Judd's texts and reviews were often very short revealing within the shortness and bluntness word to word a poetry that spun a fabric unlike the dead letters of their print.

A lot of artists write. I think there is some confusion that an artist has to write like a published critic. I think Zip brought that up.

c.p.

4/13/2008 09:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my small town, there's conflict of interest everywhere. The art world is small. So many people do more than one job. Well, who else is going to do it???

But so it is everywhere, even in NYC. I think it's a pity that someone in DC calls out a critic for COI when they are, if rumour is to be believed, a lobbyist in DC....

- Which is all about influencing someone about something. And isn't that what blogs are about? Having an influence? So why is it OK for MAN to have it and not a critic at the VV? I hadn't read this critic, but if readers enjoyed him, then I wish VV would have stood up for him.

4/13/2008 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

"there is some confusion that an "artist has to write like a published critic"

well yes, yes I did mention that. In the interest of purity I will now change my screen name. You people disgust me.

People write for a mass audience - a mass of initiates anyways. Its sort of inclusive exclusivity is that of any profession -

The language of authority right?

And as someone said, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away:

you can't dismantle the masters house with the masters tools.

Not to be anti-intellectual but
I wish I was drunk so I could really dismantle CVF - his little game of three card monte is fine but he can't be both a Marxist AND a Capitalist. That's just too complicated for anyone to bear (I highly doubt CVF is a socialist)

Ambivalence is a sin. Keep it cool dudes, this has to be a unified front or there will never be an art star ever again. We have to keep it together because a rising tide lifts all boats! Love is in the air, people are wearing tulip yellow and God is smiling down upon the land. I know because I saw him impaled on a skyscraper reading Sartre.

CVF wrote negatively, with often recycled wisdom re-presented and "reified" as original thought, so I'm sure he had his detractors, and MAN is probably a tool for the Power elite. Banality is weird like that. Those time bandits are pure evil.

4/14/2008 12:59:00 AM  
Blogger CAP said...

The hyphenated name was a bit of a giveaway.

4/14/2008 04:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the interest of purity I will now change my screen name...

Not to be anti-intellectual but
I wish I was drunk...


To the former zip: You're NOT drunk? But you are ON something, right?

4/14/2008 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

cp 22:00 - notice how when you reach for an example of an artist who writes, it's Donald Judd? Can't we admit to a nostalgia for the early years of Artforum? Avalanche? etc.? Is there a Robert Smithson of our time? Who do you think that is?

4/14/2008 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Did anybody think this stuff was great at the time? Beyond the minute number of readers of ARTFORUM, mostly downtown New Yorkers and college kids, was anybody paying attention? Who’s to say that great writing isn’t happening right now and no one's paying attention?

4/15/2008 05:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who’s to say that great writing isn’t happening right now and no one's paying attention?"

James, I have to agree with you here on many levels. The art blogsphere is a huge source of information to explore. Unfortunately only a few art bloggers are ever noticed by the press no matter how many readers they have. Some of the art blogs noted for being influential are not very influential at all. On the net influence is measured by traffic not by who the blogger is or what the blogger has done.

I read a recent comment about an issue of Art in America about checking urls on www.alexa.com in order to find out how popular a blog (or any site for that matter) is. You'd be surprised how many blogs that are noted for being "most influential online" have little traffic at all.

The underdogs here are the art bloggers who have 50,000 or 100,000 visitors per month and an Alexa traffic ranking of 100,000 or less (lower is better in terms of traffic ranking.) and never get any press or mention for their efforts while other art blogs with traffic ranking of a million or more get mentioned in these art publications! That means that 1 in a million people online at any given time visit that blog so how is that influential?

4/15/2008 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Staff Brandl said...

Chiming in late here ...

I am an “artist who writes,” as the phrase goes, including for Art in America like Judd. I wrote about the CVF “scandal” here (http://www.sharkforum.org/2008/01/art-critics-the-artworld-ethic.html)

And had to take a hell of a lot of shit for not jumping all over him, but as I said there --- criticism is not exactly the same as journalism, esp “part time” criticism, and it is hypocritical to demand that stand of critics and no one else.

My point is that it is interesting how in the discussion surrounding this (less so in Tyler’s actual words), ethics seems to be reserved for critics. If you follow the logic out to the end, then critics can only be professors of art history or "theory" ---academics?, as if they are un-conflicted? --- most critics are now academics anyway primarily --- since they have no need to earn money any other way. Does that mean that no one can have any other job in the artworld? It is only academic or waiter? That Richard Holland can no longer have or broadcast on BAS an opinion about any art because he works for Bridge? That I, as a practicing artist, cannot write criticism, which I do. That Edward as gallerist should stop blogging, Etc.

Furthermore, is ethics only reserved for a certain "middling" important class? Yes, the V V is somewhat important, but no one ever discusses the ethics of those higher on the ladder.

E.g.: There is a woman in Europe who runs one of the most important, and in certain regions the only, art publication. She is also a curator, in VERY important venues and in many countries, she is also on the board of several museums and the like. In one she was the chief person choosing the new curator, who often shows art collected by her family. Shows then reviewed by critics in her mag, critics who have no "conflict of interest" jobs --- but what about her? She also was of chief importance in choosing directors of a major art fair. They are not beholden to her in any questionable way?

This is COMMON in Europe, where, by the way, catalogue essays (by that small cirlcle of consensus-international curators) are far far more important than the wishy-washy non-criticism in publications (which are often simply rewrites of press releases).

Or there is the woman in a certain large US city who controls much of its artworld, runs an art school where they turn out copies of her chosen style, and while she was on the board of an important grant, the award was given to a protégé and then-employee of hers. Etc. Etc. Etc

If we are going to clean house, it has to be more pervasive.

The problem seems to be that CVF in the interview with Tyler displayed absolutely no awareness that there could be any problem, and that infuriated many people. But, once again, MY point is that picking this one issue to parade as an ethical problem in a morass of far more pernicious hypocrisy sounds simply blind, disingenuous or vindictive.

4/23/2008 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Staff Brandl said...

Oh one more thing from this long-winded commenter.

It is EXTREMELY hard to get real, current, nuts-and-bolts theoretical essays published, as an artist who writes, nowadays. Things like those great essays by Smithson or even Morris et al are simply UNWANTED.

Artforum only takes on what fits its small post-deconstructivist Derridaian agenda and the others want more reportage-style articles.
I get my theoretical musings published in prestigious places, scholarly journals and the like, or in e-zines/blogs, and get the reviews published in art mags (usually with small attempts to sneak larger issues in).

That is one reason why I disagree with anti-internet folks like Plagens and Finch; I think, in fact, that blogs are taking up the slack and are slowly eclipsing glossies in this realm (although the blogs’ other problems are also clear and rampant).

4/23/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

Christian is KNOWN widely as a gallerist and curator, a person who promotes the careers of certain artists. This was widely known as he wrote for the New York Press and Village Voice. His appeal is as a committed insider who also has some epochal importance, that epoch being the emergence of the Wmsburg/Chelsea artscene. I think the interest to the public was THAT dimension of his writing in the first place, not some random "nobody" neutral "journalist,critic".
At the end of the day the VV has lost that, a person who gives relevant insider perspective on various shows- who also can turn a phrase.

4/23/2008 10:08:00 AM  

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