May 25, 2005

OPINION | Sorensen on Bennett catalogue

by Linda Carroli

At it again. In the weekend edition of The Courier-Mail (21 May 2005), Rosemary Sorensen decided to proclaim 'time to clean up artspeak'. It surprises me that she doesn't actually just use the expression 'artwank' and be done with it. Clearly, Sorensen doesn't understand a great deal about the contemporary gallery environment and the sorts of territories and needs that catalogue essays have to address. Simarily, she doesn't seem to understand that visual arts is an environment in which many different kinds of writing form the undercurrents of art criticism. It's a fraught business and catalogues really aren't intended to placate the whims of newspapers arts editors and journalists. I also refer you to Gail Hasting's post in artArt - she makes some wonderful points about the culture of negative criticism in the media.

It's also a shame that she uses the review of Gordon Bennett and Peter Robinson's exhibition at the Institute of Modern Art to lash out in this manner. These are important artists. A bit like arts journalism in newspapers, catalogue essays aren't going to please all the people but for Sorensen to simply tilt at the writings associated with this exhibition, is a little like fighting a crusade against a chimera.

Further, she expresses a desire to see 'how does the writer respond to the work of art?'. Pity that Sorensen can't see the wood for the trees but instead makes a range of allegations about the writings in this catalogue being misleading and dishonest. These texts, like all art writing, are a writer's response to the work by two high profile arts professionals, a curator and an academic. So what's Sorensen's complaint? The crux seems to be that she just doesn't like, or perhaps doesn't quite understand, the writing style or the argument.

It's always worth noting when mainstream media professionals seek to silence commentary in various, independent arenas, like the arts, by discrediting the value and the quality of these commentaries.

Read the full report online at: