October 29, 2006

QUOTABLE | Lee Weng Choy in Eyeline

In the latest issue of Eyeline (#61, Spring 2006, p 35) Lee Weng Choy considers the role of criticism paying specific attention to Artspace's Critical Reader for Zones of Contact (the recent Sydney Biennale). He commences his essay by caricaturing his arguement, stating that there two kinds of discourses in relation to biennales: one being focused on 'explaining' the artworks and curatorial concepts and the other being primarily focused on criticising the biennale and which is ultimately dismissive and, indeed, symptomatic of a hopeless situation.

Choy writes: "It may counds that I do not like art critics or, worse, that I am self-loathing (being one myself). Far from it. I have begun my argument, not by summarising but caricaturing it. Why? Perhaps because sometimes you cannot point exactly to the thing itself; rather, the most insightful thing to say is that this not not such-and-such, so as to create a hole in one's perception."

This beginning, in all its self-awareness, reminds me of Edward Said's writings about beginnings in which he argues that there is a rather a substantial gap in the notions of beginning and origin. There is something quite deeply refreshing about this - Choy, in my experience of his writing, does not berate. His is a writing and a criticism that is in process - of thought, of experience, of dialogue, of ... And here I have veered slightly toward Flusser ...

"I have often said that what I want from art criticism is to speak to art, but a good part of speaking is lisentening first: listen more, listen longer; then speak ... It is [a] spirit of companionship that I want from criticism." Companionship requires, as Choy gently reminds us, good conversation and generosity rather than either conflict for the sake of it or an affirmation of one's rightness. "Good conversations are processes of understanding and appreciating differences that aspire for complexity."

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