March 12, 2005

SYMPOSIUM | The Power of Criticism

This Symposium was held late last year at the Institute for Art Criticism, Staedelschule, Frankfurt

The Institute for Art Criticism at Frankfurt's Staedelschule, founded in 2003 by Daniel Birnbaum and Isabelle Graw, has regularly been arranging lectures by leading critics and art historians.

Last year, Michael Fried held three Lectures: "Caravaggio: The Invention of Absorption", "Barthes's 'Punctum' - A Reading of 'Camera Lucida'", "Jeff Wall, Wittgenstein, and the Everyday".

A small conference that focused on the very notion of criticism and on various understandings of criticism, ranging from "cultural critique" to "celebration" was also held. Among the speakers were: Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Helmut Draxler, Tim Griffin.

Titled "The Power of Criticism," the conference sought to challenge the wide-spread verdict on criticism as a more or less obsolete practice, without any real function or impact in a highly commercialized and corporate art world.Throughout the last decades, new theoretical approaches have attempted a fundamental critique of the traditional understanding of Modernism. The prevailing canon of art history and the conventional tools for interpreting art have been put into question. Does such a critique always result in a new consensus, even new hegemonies (a new canon, a new formalism)?

The question of what criticism can do or be when faced with the normative power of the market will be approached not only from a journalistic point of view but also in relation to a model of criticism as "Kulturkritik." For a journalistic model of criticism, it seems necessary to ask, how one can disagree with the value-judgments of the cultural industry while operating from its center? And what notion of criticism would result from claiming a distance whilst acknowledging an essential entanglement? The cultural critical approach often raises another problem: while it insists on the possibility of a fundamental critique of society, it tends to neglect the specificity of its object. How can one reconcile the need for a more general analysis with the necessity of doing justice to one's object? What does criticism mean today? Art historians, practicing critics, editors, artists and academics from other fields were invited to discuss these problems, to re-negotiate the predicaments of a critical approach today.

Could not find any documentation or conference papers on the website - but the event is worth noting.

Staatliche Hochschule fuer Bildende Kuenste-Staedelschule
Duererstrasse 10D-60596
Frankfurt am Main
Tel +49 (0) 69 60 50 08-0
Fax +49 (0) 69 60 50 08-66