To write or not to write …

Sarah Thornton cont.:

Top 10 reasons NOT to write about the art market

1. It gives too much exposure to artists who attain high prices.
2. It enables manipulators to publicize the artists whose prices they spike at auction.
3. It never seems to lead to regulation.
4. The most interesting stories are libelous.
5. Oligarchs and dictators are not cool.
6. Writing about the art market is painfully repetitive.
7. People send you unbelievably stupid press releases (:))
8. It implies that money is the most important thing about art
9. It amplifies the influence of the art market.
10. The pay is appalling!

Levine Duchamp

Sherrie Levine (b. 1947), Fountain (Madonna), 1991. Cast bronze, Private collection. ©

for interesting art talking, see: AUDIO GUIDE STOP FOR SHERRIE LEVINE

On reading and making

Ann Hamilton (from Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art, 2004, ed. Baas & Jacob):

Increasingly a large part of my process of coming “to make” things extends out of the atmosphere of the books that I gather around me. Reading is a part of forming a landscape that allows work to happen, and a part of every project is the process of finding the book a project needs. It isn’t something that can happen by intention.


So the process of making work is first one of waiting. And reading is one of the ways I wait.


I am drawn to reading poetry for the way poetry offers up words and, in a new way, their meanings.


If all art happens as an act of attention, then: What is making? What does it mean to make?


How is making a form of being in the world? What is the place of making by hand? What is the form it takes now? How is it relevant or has making by hand become a nostalgic activity? How is it necessary? How does making animate the world? How does it become reciprocal? How is reading making? Might the space and experience of reading be tactile and material? What acts might constitute the process?


There are so many marvelous intriguing questions in this text, questions demanding further investigation. I have underlined just two them, which I find to be directly applicable to my praxis as an art critic: How does making animate the world? How does it become reciprocal? Being a critic, I sometimes feel like I’m standing on the threshold – an invisible line – between a world of the unbelievable and the world habitual living. My task is to get the two spheres into contact – .

 Ann Hamilton: The event of a thread

Prune and survive

If you don’t learn to say no, you’ll either be miserable or die

This week I had to get a grip on my work, which meant sorting out where to continue and what to leave behind. A slight change of direction. It implied quitting some commitments, annoying some contacts, maybe even hurting some feelings. I will no longer write for my local newspaper, I’m going national. 

For my writing it’s a great step in the right direction, first and foremost because I will get to have two editors reading with argus-eyes everything I try to publish. Secondly, it gives me an opportunity to write not mainly about local art exhibitions, but about the exhibitions I find most interesting from all over the country, even including a few trips abroad. 

But I know that my new route will hurt people, some will see me as ungrateful when saying no to continuing writing for the paper which in first instance made it possible for me to become a critic. But the thing is: I can’t do it all.

This morning I read a beautiful little piece by Courtney Martin which to a certain degree soothed my bad conscience. It’s a text about saying no. A text about sorting out. In short it postulates: “if you don’t learn to say no, you use your energy in ways that don’t make you happy – If you don’t learn to say no, you’ll either be miserable or die”. 

I seems perfectly true …


Rosa canina – no pruning needed

This is how it works

- or at least how I work

Some notes on writing a review


  • My preconceptions about an exhibition – what I expect to see, feel and think – rarely turn out to be in accordance with how I actually experience a certain show when in it.
  • When I exit an exhibition I have to be alone for a while, doing something else, preferably walking – without giving the exhibition just seen a single thought.
  • Then, after a few hours, bad thoughts start to sieve in, followed by a very bad mood. The world closes in on itself, I go down into my mind.
  • There is nothing I can do, nothing to say – I will never be able to write about what I have seen. Language has deserted me.
  • Then words starts coming, word by word, a line, maybe two – and finally a good sentence I can build my review upon. A foundation. Something that rings true about the seen, and what I have to say about it.
  • The rest is hard work = craft. Writing and re-writing, again, and again … and again. And a lot of reading out loud – listening to/for the rhythm and music in my own text.
  • When everything sings the text is finished.
  • I hand my piece over to the editor.
  • Then it immediately starts to fade, in a surprisingly short while it will disappear completely from my mind, be forgotten.

this is how I work

- how it works



A poem is like an eye chart

The job of the poet is to seduce the reader – 

- According to Billy Collins it is “about achieving a balance between “clarity and mystery. It’s important to know which card to turn over and which to lay face-down. But the beginning of a poem should always be very clear, to get a reader on board, and only then can you be confident that when you move into less obvious areas of metaphor or fantasy that they will go with you. It is like an eye chart, with its big E at the top, and the letters getting less legible as it moves along. A poem should be like that.”

Collin’s view on poetry is interesting also from the point of view of the critic, and for ‘the art industry’.

“I have spoken a lot about willful obscurity in poetry – where the poet is hiding behind language, using it as camouflage – and I don’t have much tolerance for that kind of poetry,” 

We find exactly the same problem in the art world; critics and curators obscuring the art for the viewer. I have just recently started to wonder if this is a negative inheritance from Arthur Danto … but have to make more research to know for sure.

Collins says: A poem is a projection of the most private aspects of the self, which has the capacity to move even – or especially – a stranger.

Opinions underpin attitudes

Unless we are very, very careful, we doom each other by holding onto images of one another based on preconceptions that are in turned based on indifference to what other than ourselves. This indifference can be, in its extreme, a form of murder and seems to me a rather common phenomenon. We claim autonomy for ourselves and forget that in so doing we can fall into the tyranny of defining other people as we would like them to be. By focusing on what we choose to acknowledge in them, we impose an insidious control on them.

I notice that I have to pay careful attention in order to listen to others with an openness that allow them to be as they are, or as they think themselves to be. The shutters of my mind habitually flip open and click shut, and these little snaps form into patterns I arrange for myself. The opposite of this inattention is love, is the honoring of others in a way that grants them the grace of their own autonomy and allows mutual discovery.

 Daybook, Anne Truitt

(Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, July-August 1974)