—to write the things I will write, given who I am

I have spent the last year looking for my own voice. Putting all other writing assignments aside. It (this voice of mine) has, as some of you might have noticed, bounced off in all kinds of directions. It has sometimes wandered far off into the field of poetry, for then suddenly popping up amongst heaps of everyday dust & dirt. It’s an unstable voice – unreliable.

I have not found what I have been looking for. Or; I’m not sure what I have heard – so my search will have to continue. But from the autumn on, I will also go back to writing art criticism. I have been very kindly asked to do so, a generous offer from my editor will give me much better working conditions than I had, thus I will go public  - again.

BUT:

Has art criticism room for personal voices? I believe yes, but its a complicated matter. How can one develop a voice that is strong and personal and at the same time listen carefully – with critical respect – to the artworks one is reflecting upon? This will be my new challenge.

What matters in scholarship is research, argument, persuasion, and originality, and those ideals make it easy to spend your entire working life without thinking of your own voice.

- James Elkins

I do not see my role as critic as being an academic, intellectual maybe, but free from traditional academical conventions. My knowledge is based on academic studies, but my role as a writer is much more that of a path-finder, a go-between middlewoman. In short: I believe my role as a critic is to try to share my experiences in such a way that my readers wants to have a look for themselves. To inspire involvement – how is that for a personal goal???

Yoko Ono: WISH TREE

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15 thoughts on “—to write the things I will write, given who I am

  1. An admirable goal indeed…and it is already working.

    I believe a writer’s voice can vary as we go through the various stages in life. Stanley Kunitz comes to mind as an example.

    Perhaps the secret to productive longevity as a writer/artist is to never settle down with one, and only one, voice. The willingness to keep listening and experimenting may keep us vibrant and growing.

    • Thank you so much for these kind words.

      I believe you are right in that a writer’s voice can vary – and maybe it is also a good thing not being to comfortable or relaxed with what one is doing.

  2. I think there is some room for personal voice in contemporary art criticism. Have you read James Hickey’s essays? His work, however, may be considered more as cultural criticism, where I suppose there may be more room for voice than in art criticism. Yet I think there are definite senses of voice in the latter half of the 20th C and into the 21st, though I grant that I am only familiar with the US context. Reading Rosalind Krauss I detect a voice different from, say, Robert Rosenblaum’s.

    I think also that if you read criticism by artists themselves–not that there are many who do so but I am thinking of Motherwell and of Hans Hoffman–there is a distinct voice. Also poets who write art criticism, a decided sense of voice…(Peter Schjeldahl, Frank O’Hara, not to mention Rilke, Gertrude Stein or Baudelaire).

    I am sorry I cannot read Norwegian! It would be interesting to sense your voice in your native language.

    • Thank you so much for kind words and references!
      I do not know any work by Hickey, is there anything you would recommend? I have read Schjeldahl, but didn’t know he was a poet.

      • Hickey’s rather controversial among art critics. As I said, I think of his work as more cultural critique than genuine art criticism, but I think he’s provokingly interesting. I really liked “Air Guitar.” But I should warn that book is very US-centered in outlook…not sure how it would “play” among Europeans.

  3. “..to try to share my experiences in such a way that my readers wants to have a look for themselves.”

    you are already doing this, which makes me believe you will be able to do the same with your next project. (i must say i love your ‘unreliable’ voice. your blog is my favorite, at the moment.)

    good luck!

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