Dematerialized Critical Practices
Les pratiques critiques dématérialisées
Round table 1
Art Criticism and the Commercial Realities

- Eva Grinstein, Argentina : I Confess I am a Parasite : Finding a Niche in the Gap between Market Fashions and State Indifference
- Lisbeth Rebollo, Brazil : Contemporary Art Criticism and Curating in the Public Domain
- Lars Saari, Finland : Three Kinds of Quality - Value Judgements in Modern, Conceptual, and Contemporary (Sociopolitical) Art

The main issue of this round table shows the consideration of critical practices in real context. In each discussion, art criticism is treated in defferent terms such as socio-political situations, evaluation of artworks, and the experience within the exhibition space.

Eva Grinstein explores the role of the critic within the socio-political situation of Argentina. Though imported and adapted from European and American structures, cultural institutions and infrastructures in Argentina had been organized until the middle of the 20th century. After the politic crisis in the 1980s, Argentina has been in complete chaos. Only within the last five years have seen a process of reconstruction. Now there are new galleries, spaces both public and private institutions, and new collectors. Artists have begun to manage themselves in search for representation without a mediator, and at times have worked within collectives. Grinstein calls this inter-dependent system « parasite » and sees it as a distribution of power. From this specific context, she states that the curator and the critic should not legitimate as an authority figure but rather confer together with the artistic practices.

Lars Saari opens these questions in order to punctuate the urgent necessity to redefine the idea of quality in order to apply new ways of approaching contemporary art. These questions include : How to evaluate a work of art ? and Is it possible to do it in terms of quality ?

Within the different contexts and periods, three different kinds of quality have been applied :

A)Modernistic : when the criteria for evaluation is based on formalistic analysis. B)Conceptual : when the idea or conception of the work of art is more important than the formal approach and the meaning of art is related to its dematerialization. C)Ethical : a redefinition of art not only applying the occidental point of view. This implies the use of post-colonial, sociological and anthropological studies. It is important to have a redefinition of the term quality, for the idea of art is constantly changing throughout history.

An exhibition is an articulated discourse with clear objectives. Lisbeth Rebollo sustains that the curatorial practice is also a critical one as it offers a space for communication and phenomenological experiences. Therefore the curator stands as a mediator or link between the public and the work of art turning his critical analysis and discourse into practice. The curatorial and critical works are not two different areas that function apart ; they are joined : By this, the curator is also a critical agent who offers the audience a space for cognitive experiences rather than one of evaluation.

The artistic situation is always related with socio-political issues (Argentina as a clear example). The context should also be analyzed criteria of quality in order to evaluate artwork. The curatorial and critical activities are linked in the exhibition space for it is a vehicle for communication and cognitive experiences offered to the public. Within this premise, critical discourses should not be considered as an isolated practice.

Karla Roalandini
Yuka Tokuyama


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