If any single role in the art world has been questioned, dismissed, vindicated and debated more than any other, it is arguably that of the art critic. In Chicago alone, panels, exhibitions, and blog posts galore have declared an apparently ceaseless “crisis of criticism.” While the reasons for this insecurity are many, prominent amongst them is the fact that the traditional role of the critic — interpreting art works and art movements for the viewing public — has been co-opted by curators and artists themselves.
In this second session of the @work SALON series, we decide to put the so-called “crisis” behind us and ask how art writers understand their roles in the cultural landscape today. How can criticism itself can become a creative and performative experience? What is the critic’s role in the production of meaning? Can art writing flourish in its own right, independent of the work itself? If the traditional print publication and the amateur blog both have a hard time generating revenue, then what are innovative, productive publishing models that could do better? What do arts writers see on the horizon of their profession?
This conversation will be led by invited guests Jason Foumberg (Newcity), Claudine Isé (Bad at Sports), Lori Waxman (60wrd/min), and Pedro Veléz (Artnet.com).
Jason Foumberg is the art editor for Newcity, an alt-weekly published in Chicago, for which he contributes a weekly art criticism column. Jason also works as the Department Coordinator in Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Claudine Isé is an art writer and a regular contributor to badatsports.com, art:21 blog, artforum.com, and Chicago magazine's Guide section. In previous years, she worked at the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Hammer Museum as a curator, and was a freelance art critic for the Los Angeles Times.
Lori Waxman writes criticism for the Chicago Tribune and Artforum, and teaches art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As the "60 wrd/min art critic," she performs in public, across the country, on demand for any artist who wants a review of their work. For this she was awarded a Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. For just slightly more conventional work, on urban walking as an art form in the 20th century, she has a PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts.
Pedro Veléz obtained his M.F.A. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and his B.A. in Communications at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Puerto Rico. His work incorporates art criticism, curatorial projects and sculpture into one extended narrative. Vélez maintains a regular column about the art scenes in Chicago and San Juan in Artnet Magazine and his writing has been published in New Art Examiner, APT Global Insight, Arte al Día and others.