73 dossier « Bernhard Martin. BM19 ». Pillendreher (Busy People) Huile sur toile brute. 55 x 45cm. (Court. Galerie Dittrich / Schlechtriem, Berlin, et VG Bild / Kunst Bonn). Oil on primed raw canvas quality criticism. It also means knowing what we are talking about, “where we are talking from”, to use an old French phrase. Criticism resembles the incredulity of Saint Thomas. We need to poke our finger in the wound, to check it out on site. It is the journalistic side of our activity. Especially as oeuvres have a materiality that quite often modifies, when we see them, the perception we had of them at first. A painting, for example, is flattened by the image, its surface is unified by reproduction, and one must not forget that, more often than not, the canvas is stapled to a frame, which is important since this gives the painting a certain thickness. Not to mention the third dimension of sculptures or installations… One must also take into consideration the hanging and the relationship to the location. That being said, certain types of works lend themselves more readily to remote recension, in particular those that can be summed up in a few sentences by a press release and that appertain more to communication than to interpretation. It is, in fact, very frustrating to “judge” remotely. One feels that the oeuvres are in the adjoining room but that one cannot have access to them. Work ethics stems from what used to be called intellectual honesty. It implies an experience that mobilizes personal judgement, and no longer talking “under control”, a phrase that has recently become very fashionable. Work ethics is individual risktaking. When people form a judgement, they engage their self, their responsibility. Therefore, these people will think twice before writing any old thing. Work ethics does indeed imply some sort of courage. In an essay titled “Dematerialization of art”, published in February 1968 in Lucy Lippard and John Chandler pointed out that during the 1960s, delegating the execution of works of art to craftsmen led to examine the question of process – among other things, they reflected upon the progress of conceptual art, which had appeared a few years back. Critical judgement does not follow the same rules. We would not want, fifty years from now, to witness a “dematerialization of judgement”. That would be disastrous for it would gravely alter the trust we place in critical judgement, which, let us not forget, is often far from holding the truth, a concept that is quite relative, for that matter, considering the fact that said judgement is received by a reader, while one has a feeling of truth when writing it on paper. Agreeing with the author is not an obligation. Translation: Jessica Shapiro ——— During the past couple of months, the health crisis had us pinned to the ground, so much so that we have had to adapt our methods in order to keep writing. Some exhibitions had to close as soon as they opened. In an moment of panic and foolishly spurred on by the competition’s progress, galleries, fairs and museums have imagined – often just as a means of continuing to exist – virtual exhibitions on their websites. We ourselves have devoted more energy and reflection to the contents page of our site because it allows, of course, for an immediacy which the creation, printing and distribution of a newspaper – steps that generate strict deadlines – do not. For a long time, I thought one did not write the same way for the web as for a printed magazines because words end up flying away who knows where in cyberspace, while a magazine, I believed, sets thoughts in stone, for eternity. This is no longer the case today: I tend to object less, for our reading and writing habits have changed. This evolution leads us to rethink how we consider writing, especially through the notion of gratuitousness, which is one of the pillars of the Internet. I have recently written, both in the magazine and on the website, about exhibitions I had not seen “in real life”. It has very seldom happened to me during the course of over twenty years of art criticism, and only in very particular circumstances,. Of course, I notified the reader at the beginning of each article. And, significantly, I chose artists whose work I knew well: Bernhard Martin, Anne Wenzel, Michel Gouéry and Kris Martin. Why then have I felt some sort of guilt? Because of what we call work ethics which, while it has not entirely disappeared, remains in my eyes an indispensable condition of the critical activity. Art International WHERE WE TALK FROM What is work ethics? No, it is not the ability to write shamelessly (to get rid of any shame) about works one has not seen, which is, in what we call today the field of criticism, all in all rather common, unfortunately. On the contrary, work ethics implies seeing the exhibitions to write about them. This means spending one’s life on trains or in aeroplanes. In terms of carbon footprint, I agree, this is not great, but it is the price to pay for
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