A Guessing Game of Prices
Art criticism? That’s done and over with, a friend—a passionate and dedicated art critic of several decades—tells me. Professionals like her can’t hold their ground against the market anymore. She is not resigned, but she recognizes the way relationships between the market and art present themselves in the new art world order between Beijing, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Basel, London, and New York. These relationships attest to the hunger and need for art as a matter of lifestyle and celebrity, but not for the sort of art which we as children of the Western version of modernity would describe as critical. Another acquaintance of mine, who works as an art critic, tries to enumerate how many truly independent art critics still exist in the German-speaking world who can make a living as critics in the strictest sense and who do not have to hire themselves out as curators, catalogue writers, gallery copywriters, and speechwriters, or have to accept other odd jobs in the art and media business, or have to tap secret reserves. He cannot think of anyone but himself, and he also leads a truly precarious existence.
Of course, art criticism still leaves its scent marks. It marks and ennobles the ever more self-confident fairs and biennials, which demonstrate with a critical text or a critical symposium that they have understood the antiauthoritarian lesson of self-reflection. Self-criticism has become part of every opening weekend—but it should please refrain from being truly hurtful, and, more importantly, from questioning the whole charade. Traditionally, public institutions such as museums or art associations and public galleries were meant to be a counterforce to the market. That which need not be marketable should have room in these institutions. However, they have encountered more and more obstacles in their “relationship work,”1 pressured, among others, by the voracity for events and sales numbers and simultaneous sermons about the importance of art as a critical corrective. Institutional criticism has become a standard of ostensibly critical exhibition practice, often brought into position at least rhetorically, taking account of the blurring lines between political activism, artistic practice, and social interventionism—or at least wishing to give itself the appearance of doing so. However, the freedom of the White Cube to deal with complex and frequently contradictory phenomena such as disagreement in the process of participation is bought with an almost unbreakable sense of self-sufficiency. Many questions posed in the interiors of the well-guarded museum, at times with great vehemence and persistence, are only posed and answered right there and do not find their way into a heterogeneous, broader public. At the same time, the act of glancing at one’s own criticality functions as an indicator of one’s own progressiveness.
An experimental approach to an exhibition
Idea, concept: Gregor Eggenberger & Nela Eggenberger
BAWAG P.S.K. Contemporary, Franz Josefs Kai 3, 1010 Vienna
November 28 – December 15, 2013
With works by:
Georg Aerni, Irene Andessner, Jordi Bernadó, Stéphane Couturier, Christoph Dahlhausen, Jan De Cock, Peter Dressler, Lorenz Estermann, Thomas Florschuetz, Thomas Freiler, G.R.A.M., Manfred Grübl, Markus Guschelbauer, Nan Hoover, Hermann Huber, Judith Huemer, Lukas M. Hüller, Helmut & Johanna Kandl, Herwig Kempinger, Anastasia Khoroshilova, Jürgen Klauke, Sigrid Kurz, Marie-Jo Lafontaine, Tatiana Lecomte, Paul Albert Leitner, Marko Lipuš, Edgar Lissel, Ernst Logar, Anja Manfredi, Ángel Marcos, Brian McKee, Sissa Micheli, Mihael Milunović, Julie Monaco, Gerhardt Moswitzer, Walter Niedermayr, Markus Oberndorfer, Ona B., Roman Pfeffer, Klaus Pichler, Wolfgang Raffesberg, Arnulf Rainer, Aura Rosenberg, Simona Rota, Gregor Sailer, Eva Schlegel, Werner Schrödl, Elfie Semotan, Paul M. Smith, Kamen Stoyanov, Michael Strasser, Jeanne Szilit, Borjana Ventzislavova, Massimo Vitali, Anita Witek, Andrea Witzmann, Erwin Wurm, Robert Zahornicky, Gregor Zivic, Leo Zogmayer