Criticism as Practice: Between Poetic Meditation and Brand CreationOctober 9, 2014
Current Latin American criticism does not seem to exert any influence over the success of art in the region. This positioning work is carried out, without a doubt, by gallerists during art fairs (venues as relevant, or more, for an artist than their exhibitions) and by the collections that for years have created an important tradition allowing the multiple narratives that exist in Latin American art, through its different periods and styles, to be read. It’s possible that criticism played a fundamental role during times when, as Pablo Helguera has indicated, writers were a primordial force in the construction of cultural support models in Latin America, particularly if we think of Octavio Paz.
It seems interesting to me to step back to this time to think about the current crisis of art criticism. There is a clear need today for tough criticism with the purpose of judging and acting as a filter between what is good or bad in artistic and curatorial practices, that recovers the values of poetic and plastic meditation in the various aesthetic proposals that circulate in contemporary art, as well as propels and even corrects their readings as do the critical writings of some artists, like Barnett Newman in the United States or Luis Camnitzer in Latin America.
With this, I would like to separate the critic as a character from criticism as practice. This could be carried out by the artist or by the curator; both must be capable of articulating concepts and ideas to untangle the complexity of art as experience and as object, especially today, in a moment when not only criticism but also artistic practice are in profound confrontation with their symbolic meanings and their roles in constructing culture. The production of a practical criticism, capable of exerting greater influence on the art scene, is fundamental in this moment where today’s Latin American art lives, in a way, because it is an important way to expand its richness and bring continuity to its interest, beyond the creation of Latin America as a brand.