Tuesday 22 January 2008

Will blogging change the artworld? (part 1)

Last week, in a time-strapped post, I pointed to parts 1 and 2 of Tyler Green's interview with Village Voice art critic Christian Viveros-Faune.

On Friday, Green posted the final part of the interview, in which he challenged Viveros-Faune over the conflict of interest involved in being an art critic for a major publication and simultaneously the director of two commercial art fairs. Extracted from V-F's reply:

I believe you can wear a lot of hats in the art world, and one needs to because, among other things, critics can't survive on the money that they make from writing. Very few critics can. And, not only that, but I'm interested in curating, and I firmly believe that there is no interest in the art world without a conflict of interest.

Green, to put it briefly, was not impressed. He was also clearly quite unhappy with the way this had all panned out:

On a personal note, this is uncomfortable for me. I've done dozens of Q&As on MAN with all sorts of art world figures, people such as Getty CEO James Wood, critic Jerry Saltz, Gugg curator Nancy Spector, ex-Walker director Kathy Halbreich and artist and New Yorker photographer Robert Polidori. I hope the history of this site indicates that I don't do ambushes and that I don't do gotcha-journalism.

So I want to explain how this all came out: On Monday, impressed with a recent Lawrence Weiner review, I asked Viveros-Faune to come on MAN and he agreed. That night, while researching and preparing for the Q&A I discovered the hiding-in-clear-sight conflicts-of-interest discussed here. When Viveros-Faune and I did our Q&A on Tuesday, my last few questions were about this topic. I expected him to say that he was in the process of separating himself from his commercial interests, or some such thing. He didn't.

Green was by no means the only person to feel this way: here he links out to a number of other bloggers who have commented on the situation. And you can read Ed Winkleman's response here (and don't forget the comments).

And now the Village Voice has announced that Viveros-Faune will no longer be writing for them.

Later this week I'm going to (very belatedly) post about Peter Plagens' roundtable with a group of American art bloggers, published in the November 2007 Art in America (I would have done this sooner, but the article's not available online, which is pretty fitting when you read the print version.) The article probes at what some of the differences and similarities between blogging and print criticism might be.

Some of the things that I think set print criticism and art blogging apart include speed, increased transparency, the ability to assemble lot of information and opinion to create context through hyperlinks, and the ability for readers to feedback. The Viveros-Faune situation, I think, could become a classic case study for the inevitable MA that will soon be written, asking how blogging is changing the artworld.

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