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understanding... What, sorry! I must of dozed off

There's way too much, friend of my friend is on my blog slog going on here. I wasn't able to find any up to date editorial mission for the site which makes a project like this all the more disappointing for Chicago. Without a clear direction beyond the current haphazard articles being outlined, It's hard to say why I should continue to visit something like this. All of the writing is proportioned the same, whether its an essay, a review, or an interview. It makes the overall feel, the texture and the weight of the articles and the entire enterprise feel vapish.

The State of (visual ) Art

Then over here Kathryn makes a comment that frankly might make Apollinaire proud. As quoted, Worrying about editorial is “like organizing the kitchen cupboards while some dude bleeds to death in the living room.” Apollinaire's opinion on such matters aside, this statement is nothing more than a qualifier for shoddy oversight. She is then quoted, “We publish two unedited articles each day. It would be nice to have someone look them over, but we just don’t have the money.” This second statement seems very apologetic of the first, while pandering for substance from unknown benefactors at the same time. Given the depth and the overall lack of density that the pieces have, money isn't the issue with Chicago Art Magazine, selection and directorial vision are.

Then in the comments, Kathryn makes two unedited points which I could stand behind:

My opnions [sic] is that there are two issues not addressed that I feel contribute to the issue of non-interest in reviews:

1. the review form – the literary piece known as the art review – has lost its way.

2. Our relationship with experts/authority is in crisis or in flux.

But her thesis never bears any fruit. Opinion One is a short sanitized scree about form in which her argument has something to do with artist statements. While opinion Two is a generally woeful display of misunderstanding or a simplification of the context of Greenberg, his peers, and their work as, writers, and artists that gets wrapped up in her own opinions about white male hegemony. Neither opinion is reflected in any way by the tone of her web site. If anything, her endeavor succeeds only in adding more crisis and flux to the pile of bleeding tissue in the living room.
The defense of her thesis suffers greatly from a misunderstanding of what criticism is and how it coalesces to form a review. Art criticism shouldn't tell me it's, "It’s worth the trip down to Catherine Edelman Gallery on a Saturday or Sunday when you can explore the other galleries in the building," as Liz Dyla has. That's a statement best written in a Sunday church bulletin. Something Kathryn herself seems to posit, "With a review, anything goes. You can be poetic, historical, opinionated, snarky, speak in metaphorical terms, talk about other stuff. Anything goes. Maybe you’ll get some actual information, maybe you won’t. No wonder no one reads them, it’s a crapshoot." But a review is actually none of these things. What she has described is called, writing, a very close ancestor to Truman Capote's bastard, typing. At her site I should expect to see something different and substantive, something bereft the flabbiness that she decries. Instead it's riddled with descriptive adjective laden snot, to fearful of pronouncing meaning too extract either profundity or quality.
Some of this should likely be seen in the light of opportunities created. Artists and writers need opportunities after all, and the structure of Chicago's art community relies heavily on the work of inspired participants. But I would argue that without editorial oversight or a progressive long term vision for growth, an endeavor such as this one is hopelessly mired. After all criticism and opinion are not the same. Amateur criticism is little more than the ALL-CAPS and bold fonts version of a comment roll, and paying said amateur is in no way a transformation of this reality. So what makes a misinformed critic not, a knowledgeable and, or an opinionated amateur? Time, energy, condensed thoughts, research, an apishly large library surrounded by lovely black and white photographs of water fowl, and other bric-a-brac? No its constancy and persistence in the pursuit of understanding and conveying the qualities that define the arcane and metaphorical reality of objects and their surroundings.
The flux or crisis isn't with experts or authority per say, its in the distribution of opinion as though it were reasoned discourse. It's in the ongoing creation of model's for the dissemination of hyperbole without rational checks or balances. Whether it's Glenn Beck, or Jon Stewart, or Bad at Sports these models can do much to obfuscate legitimate dialogue if not entirely cripple its formation. By creating a platform for authorship without an editorial or directorial voice guiding it, Kathryn's personal responsibility to the community is ceded to those writers posting on her platform. She herself becomes little more than a placeholder, beyond all accountability.
Perhaps she prefers being held accountable for the posting of 2 articles a day rather than for the content of those 2 pieces that mark her domain. She would maybe, like to have an editor to hold accountable instead but can't currently afford one. But after all the accolades have rolled in to the New City and Time Out and Flavorpill and Fecalface and the Chicago Reader and ArtLetter and Art Forum for, BEST POSTER OF 2 ARTICLES A DAY... EVER, then her fortunes will change and she will accept the responsibility she hopes to profit from. Or perhaps she is actually an arbiter of culture reflecting a new age. It's your call. I have no editor, so I can't make that call.


Kathryn711 said…
No comments? No comments? I'm crushed.

Seriously, thank you for this post, it was outstanding. And Michael, nice to e-see you again post Other Group.

Ok, I posted on New City's comments before I read this, so I won't repeat.

But in a nutshell, just give us some time, man. Give us a little time. When I was a young writer, I did all sort of wild, crazy, problematic and incoherent work, and then it all smoothed out as I got older.

I've been "at this publishing thing," for, like, 6 months. And yes, I have a huge fetish for spectacle, I like to say hugely offensive things like "go big, or go home" because I know it's going to make everyone go bezerk. I have an uncontrollable desire to be the outcast of the outcasts.

I mean, a staffer came over with a laptop, saying the extension cord made any device attached to it explode and die.

I was going crazy trying not to plug that thing in.

So if everyone's got a formula for what's good, then... then fantastic, we've got the formula in hand. We know how to make something good. So why is it in crisis? Everyone's cracked the code - tossing around the word "dialogue" like soldiers in Iraq giving out candy. Everyone's got the word "moniker" in the first sentence and "reminiscent" in the first paragraph... problem solved.

So doing things backwards is how I do things. I mean think about it: most people start with a fully-formed product with the goal of growing it into a business. I'm just doing it in reverse.

I watch the end of movies first to see if I want to watch the rest of it. Can't blame a girl for wanting to see how it all shakes out before deciding to get started...

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