Art and Arnold

On the role of the art critic

We have far passed the day of the fixed perspective, of the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong.’ Or have we? We have long since left Modernism behind in the wake of the poly-discursive now, where every view point and every opinion registers a unique and delimited origin. Or have we? If we remember Daniel Bell’s ‘Modernism and Capitalism’ which states “thematically Modernism has been a rage against order, and in particular, bourgeois orderliness. The emphasis is on the self, and the unceasing search for experience,” then have we really left Modernism behind? I think not. And further, I question the very ability to actually do so.

As of late, my research has turned toward my dissertation. And for those of you who do not know what my field of study is, let me state it now: I am researching modern graffiti criticism as I find it lacking in a basic understanding of what graffiti is and does. The criticism’s fallacy is a simple misreading of the basic graffiti element: the tag. Contemporary graffiti critics are quick to move past this element into larger socio-political arenas regarding the work as a transmitter/trans-locator of poly-discursiveness that orbits the writer and the reader of the work as a center locator. In short, it all comes back to biography, either of the writer, or the critic.

But how can one claim to write from a post-modern perspective when one is merely celebrating the self and the self’s “experience?” It’s not possible. If one takes to biography, then one is simply repeating Modernism without the realization that that sought after experience is also manifest in the reader of the criticism. However, for the reader, he or she, experiences that moment after the fact, just as the critic has experienced the moment after the fact of the writer. This ‘moment’ is now one of deferment to the next, and one of a perpetuating pluralism. Now we are getting close to the post-modern.

But the critics do not realize this. Instead, they seem to be hell-bent on collapsing the play of time into a singular moment, a moment when he or she, along with the reader, and the writer are all together all at once, on the page of the his or her text. By ignoring time, the critic maintains his or her role as locator of the work. He or she SAYS what is good or bad; he or she SAYS what is going on, and so forth. And if one is clever enough, as Rosalind Krauss is, to read the tag as a moment of Derridan differánce, then he or she is able to see the tag as cutting into the being of the writer, but not clever enough to see the criticism as cutting into themselves. The criticism assumes the same function as a tag (performing the same procedures on the writer (here of the criticism)). The danger of the post-modern graffiti critic is that of forgetting, forgetting that they too make a mark that says what the tag says: “I was here,” where you are now.
Posted 27th September 2012 by Arnold, H.C.

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This entry was posted on February 8, 2016 by .

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