Challenged artist, artist alive
What is criticism good for? The question expressed by the visionary Charles Baudelaire in his art review Salon of 1845 can be cleared without speculation. Degraded by the high-end market to the rank of support advertising, art criticism only hurts artists’ hypertrophied ego, curators and gallery owners who want more than to sell their products at market scale. This triad also intends to maintain a fist to achieve certain spot seams traps for many veils that cover. Therefore, only the tantrums of vulnerable emblems retain the virtual status of bold and interested “off-replicating” in contemporary arts scene where, finally, it is excluded.
(A visual successful producer with sincere arrogance shouted: “To the critics I want you all away from me!”. Under this prophylactic cynicism, art surgeon will never be a cum panis “partner”, someone who “shares bread” with the artist and his brood of attendees. Light Machiavellianism?)
In a context drilling openness toward the market phenomenon, the role of critics who aspire to the miracle of reception could be to implement a mechanism of resistance to proposals-waste of what “crafts of the periphery” was called before. Since today the failed povera accent label represents criers of design, costly and pseudo-glamorous artifact, with no contrived to promote the easy shopping of empty idea-thematic as material-objectual.
It is unacceptable to insist on conceptual assessments to those seeking to shed academic lags or ghosts that some people suppose detecting. Critics of conceptual art should mutate into commercial art critics, with no prejudice, to unravel the existing legacy of Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons until the inescapable sensation Damien Hirst, who was worth a hundred million pounds in the 40’s. The artist metamorphosis as ethnologist into entrepreneur is a phenomenon which justifies the urgency of a critical reinvention in these times.
“You get tired of the alleged role that critics have in this culture. It’s like being a brothel pianist: you have no control over what happens upstairs” (Robert Hughes, Culture of Complaint, Anagrama, 1994).
Money as state of mind predicted by Warhol led Hirst to declare at the height of its economic glory: “I love it when they defame me”. But one feels that early and experienced figures in contemporary Cuban art would find it hard to expose themselves to public judgment with this brash. Is it another psychological complex of Antillean superstition? Although there are well-bred shameless ones willing to pay in order to receive the media blessing. When that “perfect moment” of alliance between tame and rebel chroniclers with their daily pragmatic arrives, then it would be worthy to restart a discussion on the drama of the art publications and their real or imaginary incident.
If wielding strong judgments about an artist or an area of plastic work would manage to contribute rising sales, then nobody would bother anyone for a review or impolite monograph. So a Duchamp axiom, useless in this island, would return to the scene of conceptual pretence: “Challenged artist, artist alive”. Thus, the “upstream” critics recover their lost aura, they would enjoy the pleasure of disputed or misunderstood text and art magazines (specialized or hybrid) would fly to newsstands and bookstores from one end to another of this archipelago.
It is time that this “culture of complaint” (wielded by Hughes) and advertising (serialized by Warhol) abandon the fight and negotiate their differences covered by the amplified rumor that dominates with catalysts impacts from other horizons.
Journalistic criticism and theoretical approaches must take together the way that leads from the artistic field to the financial bubble. Some might mediate in the field of cultural knowledge (thematic mega-exhibitions, biennials, documentas) and others in the fetishist images consumption (auctions, private or institutional collectors of high or low profile). Writing as literary expression cannot crystallize outside numbers that give lineage and glamour to a work of art. It is not healthy that critics carry out partnerships with academic minorities or consent useless resentment either.
Letting artistic troupes expresses a gesture of autonomy, crucial to involve the “bewildered spectator” in an environment of credibility, inevitable to grease up the machinery of “promotion- circulation-distribution”. This would serve to distinguish “commercial art” disguised of “conceptual art” or its opposite inflation, clumsy to delight hunters of forms or relational contents with means and ends. Will this be the country who long dreamed of combining heresy and advertising under the pluralistic world sun? May we someday celebrate the triumph of an open semiotization of the show?