Friday, February 8, 2008

Book of the Week

This is one of the most interesting books of art criticism I have read for a while. Ok, it’s the only book of art criticism I have read for a while. But anyway.....

It’s a transcript of an email conversation between Off Of The TV’s Matthew Collings and Not Off Of The TV’s Matthew Arnatt. I’m a bit intrigued generally by Matthew Collings and not only for his odd facial hair experiments or the fact that he lives opposite my friend Jim, but because of his transformation from friend of the Brit Art crowd to some kind of neo-Brian Sewell style old fart. This is of course easy to write off as merely the result of getting old and cantankerous or, worse, just plain posturing. But I think he has some interesting points in this book. In particular the way he suggests that virtually all art production is now subsumed within a critical discourse of vaguely worthy world concerns. Not only that but the two are perceived to be interchangeable so that the art becomes some straightforward, transparent conduit for both the artist’s and the critic’s views on the world. The whole visual language of art is thus assumed to have a very literal structural relationship to theory and a textual or verbal language based argument. And the artist and critic collude in a cosy “I say what its about and you tell everyone else and they’ll both think we’re really deep and concerned” sort of way. With the exception of course that the argument is not as sophisticated or informed as it could be. In a way if art really CAN articulate thoughts as clearly as most critics seem to suggest then you might as well just get rid of the art altogether and stand in the gallery shouting: “I’m really worried about, like the war and the media and things and that, innit” and be done with it.

Anyway, read on…..

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