Finally I understand why we call it a blogosphere. Because it goes around and around. When, a few days ago, I searched the Internet for other responses to the Time Out critics survey, what did I find but a bunch of posts that linked back to me. I could have cut my search time in half by just googling myself.
That said, my Artsjournal neighbor Douglas McLennan has been raising all sorts of interesting issues for criticism over at his new blog, Diacritical.
In this bit, directed to the guest blogger, John Rockwell, the Times’ about-to-retire chief dance critic, Doug addresses the “huge context and criteria problem” for criticism today:
John: A few years ago, the artistic director of a presenting group here in Seattle got pissed off by the reviews the dance groups he was bringing to town were getting. He (brashly) wrote an open letter to the press in which he excoriated the critics for trying to impose their sense of the history of the field onto the experimental pieces he was bringing.
His contention was that the vocabulary his people were working in had changed (the whole does-this-theatre-piece-even-look-like dance thing) and that it was unfair to try to contextualize it with a set of criteria he thought didn’t apply anymore. While I was in sympathy with his judgment about the usefulness of the reviews he was getting, I thought he was off the mark in his analysis of the problem.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that the context and criteria problem is huge right now, and not just for critics. As it gets easier for artists to distribute their work, it becomes easier to attract niche audiences and build a constituency for your art. Consensus about what’s good or not seems more and more difficult to achieve. And even the definition of what constitutes consensus now seems problematic.
For the full entry, click here. Then read the other entries.