Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In


April 1, 2008 - 11:08pm -- Carol Diehl
Trippy as the Whitney's prose is (see 3/28 post), I’m beginning to see that it opens up interesting linguistic possibilities in terms of new words or uses—such as as “Pop-ifies,” which seems to mean “makes like Pop art.” Now if you were to apply the ending to other art movements, such as Abstract Expressionism or Minimalism (Minimal-ifies? Minimalism-ifies?) it could get a little clunky—however I can see its literary applications. For instance, when we were talking about style at our Edward Winkleman said that a publication, having seen his blog, asked him to write something for them and then complained that it was too “bloggy.” Perhaps he should have Whitnified it a bit, just as the Whitney’s essays might have been improved with a little blogification.

Then there’s “spectatorial”--as in a “unified spectatorial vantage point” which I take to mean a “unified spectator vantage point” but with better clothes. However my absolute favorite is “problematizing” for which I can see myriad uses in the vernacular, and is certainly more concise than “making mountains out of mole hills.” You could say, “I had to leave the meeting because of all the problematizing that was going on” and everyone would know exactly what you meant. And don’t we all know people who are problematizers and never had a word for it? Or maybe I’ve just been in that interstitial space between understanding and confusion far too long.


It's a bit of a chicken/egg problem as to which comes first, bad art criticism and thinking or bad art.

All the same, I think it's important to separate the two. Just because writing on some of the Whitney exhibits is poor (to say the least!) I'd be reluctant to condemn the art for that (although there is some pretty indifferent stuff - as always - there).

The lazy habit of trying to turn nouns into verbs or adjectives or vice versa, has been around for a while and in many fields. They say it's a sign of getting old (like noticing how young policemen look) when you have trouble following your native tongue.

Although I like Whitnicisms!

I'm a small town, Vermont art critic who has seen the work "interstitial" pop up several times lately. the first time i saw it i had to ask the 20 something curator what the heck she was talking about. i'm locally notorious for being unsympathetic with artspeak uttered by curators, and as found in artist's statements... (and oh yes, i have a cranbrook MFA minted in 1984, so i know what they're TRYING to say... i just don't buy into the nomenclature)

i think this blog is right that much of it comes from insecure academics. i also think artspeak is finding increasingly tough sledding beyond NYC (the clarity of art new england is a case in point). the dimWhit biennial has been a decadent shadow of its former self for a couple of decades... so perhaps the cult of New york is finally getting tiresome? sure hope so... the hinterlands are so diverse, and so full of fresh ideas our splintered american art scene is a positive development. hopefully critics and curators will linguistically catch up with what's truly "cutting edge" i.e. good clear writing that readers can enjoy rather than struggle to disentangle.

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