Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Objective criticism

A judge is not allowed to take a case if he knows personally the one he judges. Shouldn't it be the same in art criticism?
But then, how would criticism be possible, if the critic is everybody's (quasi) friend? And, after all, social life is, many would say, crucial to the art world.
If this is the case, the reviewer should clearly state his relation to the reviewed (e.g., degree of intimacy, number of conversations in the last week, month, year, common friends, social events both attended, etc.). I mean this quite seriously. This would also allow the reviewer to write more objectively, without worrying about the pain of hurting the ones we care about (and whatever you say, a bad review can hurt). It would make things clear: everyone knows about us, so I simply can't promote you. I can advise you, help you, work with you. I can listen to your explanations (which is already a great advantage you have). But this is where it stops.
And if it doesn't, if you resist everything but the temptation to "help" your friends, at least things are a little clearer for the public that is not in.


Tiago said...

could you make it more clear and use some examples please?

vvoi said...

I think we both know too many examples. But just refering to myself: I believe my judgement of Patricia Portela's work is modified by the fact that I know her personally (though not well) and like her and know she works real hard and admire her effectiveness in living in two countries at once. I also know Claudia Dias personally and have had lessons with her and like her and would like her "Guided Tour" to have lots of success. I hope my writing about the show can still find some sort of neutrality, but actually, it's probably just a comfortable illusion. Even unconsciously, I will be looking for the things I liked and forgetting those I didn't (or might have not). And this is pretty disturbing.
Also, it gets even more complicated: for instance, I can like someone's first work, and try to promote it. And since I invested in him, I will try to defend his other projects. I suppose what I mean is how personal involvement is TREMENDOUSLY dangerous. Personally, I would like to think we (you and me, but also other art-related people) like each other and THAT'S WHY we will also be honest when addressing each other's creation (be it a performance or a review). The question is: why address the difficult questions publicly if we can do it privately, sparing ourselves the often unpleasant media effect of the public forum? And that's where the difficult choices have to be made. And I can't tell you why exactly, but to choose the "objective" way, the "righteous" way, seems both necessary and exhibitionist - as if we actually had nothing to lose.

Tiago said...

but we don't have nothing to lose. and if we have there will onl be those supposedly called friends who cannot distinguish from one's profession and one's friendship. to me i have no problem whatsoever on telling publicly i dislike a friend's work. especially because i said to him first what i thought. otherwise he would not be my friend. but i reaaly love this question. but we will all have to wait for the end of the festial in order to start thinking more clearly about it. i have no time now, to bad for me. specially because i am facing some problems with that myself.

M.D. said...

I have always wanted to write a book dissecting modern writing through interviews with the writers' exwives and girlfriends. On the flipside, since you mentioned those who are "not in" the in-crowd, coudln't you also say that there is a level of interest and insight available from such personal knowledge that they would benefit from? It has a time and a place, for sure. But, then again, there is really no "unbiased" to judgement of art, whether you know the artist or not.

Meer Mushfique Mahmood said...

To be objective in criticism is the demand of the civilisation. To live together, to proceed further, to be liberal --we have no way but being objective. Yes, this might not be possible for us to be cent per cent objective. But this is a must for us to remain in the continuous process of becoming closer of what might really be called objective.


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