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Art Critics and Integrety

March 28, 2004
At there’s currently a length discussion on art critics and integrety. Dag Solhjell is raising quesions about the integrity of artists also working as art critics. I definitively see his point.

For the upcoming stipendiatsamling the main topic is:

“Do aesthetic practices produce knowledge of any kind? If so what kind of knowledge is imbedded in a work of art? What kind of discourses do we need to represent and reflect on artistic practices? These issues are of vital importance to the Programme for Research Fellowships in the Arts which is a doctoral programme without aiming at a doctoral thesis. In our programme art is both the means and the aim. The fellows are supposed to produce a work of art of some excellence and to reflect on the processes of bringing it forth. These reflections are meant to be presented to a public audience.”

As part of the schedule each candidate is supposed to “present their artistic projects and discuss with his/her supervisor which discourse(s) are best adapted to represent and reflect on the knowledge imbedded in the work of art in question.”

To me this is slightly problematic. The program for this gathering seems to imply the idea that it’s possible for us the candidates to create some sort of general knowledge as part of the artistic practice during the course of the fellowship period. Furthermore I get a nagging feeling that this knowledge to some might be a more important product of the research fellowship in the arts program than the actual art works and the artistic processes themselves. Artistic practice is a subjective task and whatever experience reflections and knowledge we gain have to be understood as being highly personal and subjective. The objective value can and should be questioned and it is not to us to judge on that question. From a scientific point of view we would completely lack credibility if we pretend to claim objective insights and knowledge produced by our artistic practises. From an artistic point of view that would be an unfruitful way of approaching our own work art history contemporary tendencies etc. My reading of the history of art and music is of course to a strong degree relating to my own artistic project and to a large degree determined of how I can interact with it and use it for my own further artistic development.

I’ve always been surprised that Schöenberg has been getting away with presenting his reading of the history of music as Universal Truth. You ought to be very suspicious when someone claim that their compositional practice is the logical conclusion of the history of music so far and furthermore claims to have invented a system that will form the basis of compositional practise for the next 200 years.