Thursday, February 7, 2013

Art lingo - enough already!

Interrogate - to ask questions aggressively

If I hear the word interrogate one more time in an art context I think I'll go and slit my wrists. Or perhaps the throat of the poor fool who wrote it. I'm fed up with this feckless gallerist nonsense, foisted on us in an attempt to shore up the gallerists' perceived position of superiority, effectively saying, hey, we've got the knowledge and therefore got the power. 
It's time they stopped using these noxious puff words!

This use of curatorial non-language has been going on for a while. Seems I'm not the only one who's over it. Writer Christina Patterson of The Independent (5 February 2013) is on to it and so is Andy Beckett at the guardian (27 January 2013). Robert Hughes would turn in his grave and Geoff Dyer must be laughing himself silly.

I particularly liked this comment from Christina Patterson: you might, for example, wonder why they seem to think it's better to use the word "notion" than "idea", or the word "narrative" than "story", or the word "interrogate" than "ask". You might wonder why every piece of art they write about seems to "subvert" something, or "disrupt" something, or "deconstruct" something, and why what it seems to "subvert" or "disrupt" often seems to be "traditional hierarchies". You might wonder what those "traditional hierarchies" were. You might, for example, want to ask if they were the "hierarchies" of a world where art is bought by hedge funders as an investment, and a brand. But if you looked at the art that was meant to be "subverting traditional hierarchies", or "interrogating capitalism", you might wonder why, if the artist hated capitalism so much, the work was so often for sale.

What's more, the definition of interrogate, which I tend to associate with former East German Stasi tactics, is to ask questions closely, aggressively, or formally, - in other words to beat the shit out of somebody. Interrogation implies that there is something of substance to be said or revealed. Sadly, the art in question, is so often shallow, boring, empty, and downright dull. With nothing worth saying.

You can read what The Independent has to say HERE and the guardian HERE

1 comment:

Jim Simmons said...

Then be very careful, Harvey, not to pick up a 2006 book called Photography Theory. I read a random paragraph to my wife, and she said WTF - why do you even attempt to read such self-important crap? It is the most obtuse reading on photography I've ever read. All academics yapping at each other, and just downright painful to read. I told her I was trying to see where photography thought had gone in the 30 years I got out of school. Alas, John Szarkowski or Peter Galassi makes these folks sound like asylum inmates.