Sunday, 12 January 2014

WANTED: New Art Critics, New Blood for an Endangered Species.

I often joke that the only people who make less money than artists are those who write about them.  And if those writers are the specialists who interpret art critically, as opposed to those who generate the human-interest stories, that group gets even smaller and less well paid.  The exception would be the academics that regard critical writing as part of their practice.

One of the reasons why critical writing is so unprofitable is if done conscientiously it is labour intensive.  There is a lot more involved than simply going to an exhibition, making notes and drafting an article.  Knowledge of the issues that are relevant to the exhibition, familiarity with the artist's prior work, whose work to compare or contrast it with, and more is involved.  And then of course you have the writing, revisions and sometimes rewriting.

Kailey Bryan is bringing new energy and perspective to St. John's.  I reviewed her recent Rogue Gallery show for the upcoming issue of C magazine.

Reviews seem to come and go out of fashion.  They were once the mainstay of newspaper entertainment pages and art magazines.  Reviews could be favorable or negative.  The problem was that those same publications were often dependent upon the advertising revenues of the galleries whose exhibitions might get panned.  For a while they seemed to be replaced by human-interest type articles that focused more on how blue the artist's eyes were or where they grew up than the art they created.  Magazines ran shorter and shorter reviews and tried to include more.  One of the drawbacks was that reviews had a perceived shelf-life or stale-date, which was not conducive to seasonal publications.

C magazine is, in my opinion, the best magazine to publish critical writing about art practice and exhibitions in Canada.  It is lively, informed but not too jargon laden.  It uses interns and assistants to help writers develop their ideas and arguments and fact check.  I recommend them to anyone interested in critical writing.

And they are hosting an annual competition with a cash prize and an opportunity to publish!

The C New Critics Competition is designed to help develop and promote the work of emerging art critics. Writers must submit a review of an exhibition, performance, or site-specific intervention, between 800 and 1,000 words in length, by Friday April 11, 2014.

The jury for the award includes Amish Morrell, editor of C Magazine.

The winner will receive $500, editorial support in order to prepare their article for publication in C Magazine, and a two-year subscription to C.

All participants will receive a one year subscription to C Magazine.

Participants are not restricted by age or citizenship. To be eligible, writers must have published no more than two exhibition reviews or one article in a magazine or journal. Writers are not disqualified for having written for personal blogs or student publications. One submission is allowed per person and must be sent as an email attachment, in MS Word to Amish Morrell Mail or fax submissions will not be accepted.

Try this idea:    Are you one of us who has a pile of magazines associated with your art or professional practice that you never get around to reading?  This year a group of us are going to get together on a regular basis.  Each of us will read one magazine or book and tell the others about it.  We can then exchange based on interest.  We are hoping that being responsible to a group and a meeting time will help us focus, save time and money as we share tasks, information and subscriptions.  Not to mention that we get to socialize with liked minded creative types!

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