Artwriting: Sustainability, Taste Making and Critical Art Discourses: Exceeding the Soundbite

Jamillah James
Peter Hudson
Candice Lin
James McAnally
Sarrita Hunn
Gelare Khoshgozaran
Eunsong Kim

Selected by Open Call
Organized by Eunsong Kim and Gelare Khoshgozaran (contemptorary) with James McAnally and Sarrita Hunn (Temporary Art Review).

What are the current expectations of art writing? Further: what can writing and criticism offer the current cultural and political milieu? Besides traditional art historical texts or academic dissertation chapters that grapple with an artist’s practice or body of work within the context of a particularized research topic, there seems to be two common trends within online art writing platforms: one is short or long reviews of an exhibition, the other is think pieces about a specific topic of contemporary arts the media have brought into attention ― a “controversy.” While both of these common models are inevitable (if not necessary), how can art writing create long lasting conversations that hold up beyond an exhibition’s life or the annual (and “dismissible”) controversy of the art world? As we have seen, the flurry of responses to exhibitions can help support an emerging artist or curator by putting them under the spotlight, yet too often the content of such “controversy” based writing does not offer much to the artist, writer and curator. At the same time, the attention “price tag” of such writing sticks on indefinitely and can contribute to taste making, while distracting from other essential work. All in all we ask: what kind of attention has been received, and how might we ― artists, writers, curators ― challenge the current attention and circulation frameworks?

The participants in this panel will discuss how art writing may extend an artist's critical discourse, or challenge a curator’s vision for an exhibition by offering critical thought for reflection: what might it be like if art writers were tasked with complicating the historically-induced questions at hand, rather than asked to simplify them? We believe it is essential to demand more than the soundbite. While word counts, formatting, editorial decisions, and time constraints are inevitable limitations to the artists, curators and art writer’s work, what other formats, structures and editing periods may be thought of and deployed? What can the interview format offer us that a single writer’s perspective may not offer? Does the cacophony of art roundtable discussions afford us the heterogeneity of views and perspectives we are in need of? These questions and others inspired us to organize a panel that brings together writers, artists and curators to discuss the potentials of, the possibilities in and the horizons of art writing. In order to demystify common trends, we are hoping to shed light on how the financial, personal, political and professional factors play into the circulation and art writing economies. The panel brings together interdisciplinary artists, curators, art writers and editors ― all of whom who have taken on multiple positions within the arts field ― and will be moderated by Eunsong Kim and Gelare Khoshgozaran, co-founding editors of contemptorary.