It was a very well attended get together of artists, writers, curators, filmmakers, gallerists, all engaged in one way or another in this thing called blogging. Organized by Joanne Mattera and Sharon Butler and hosted by George Billis at the Red Dot Art Fair, this event was an informal round-table discussion followed by a more formal panel discussion. Many topics were touched upon including the predictable technical aspects of the medium, as well as more interesting questions of ethics. As the discussion evolved, it inevitably led to the issue of art criticism, and the relationship between criticism and blogging.
On her excellent blog Artvent, Carol Diehl recently posted a number of hilariously ludicrous statements by critics and artists about work in the Whitney Biennial. These exerpts are a great catalyst for examining the contrast between current critic-speak and the art related writing found on many art blogs. Most of us at the bloggers meeting came of age in a time when art critics, in the wake of Greenberg, still had considerable influence; and the art journals were fairly readable, and seemingly more central to the prevailing critical dialogue. But as the breadth and diversity of art practice became more unwieldy, the prevailing critical dialogue became more fragmented, groping, and frankly, irrelevant to artmaking. The critics labeled this development "the end of art" -- but of course artists understood this really meant the end of criticism as a viable "force". Enter the free space of the blogosphere, and the opportunity for artists, writers, curators, enthusiasts to write about art in a form that is completely outside the tired established conventions of the profession of art criticism. It remains to be seen how this form will affect the larger art dialogue, but for the moment, it is a vital, highly diverse, and fast-growing global forum for frank observations and interesting ideas. Something that, with very few exceptions, cannot be said about conventional art criticism today. The bloggers who are donating their time, energy, intelligence and insight to a new vernacular form of information sharing and discourse are pioneering a completely new approach to engagement with and communication about art.