My thanks to everyone who takes time to post comments. I read them all even though I don’t often get involved in arguments, letting the readers take over. But occasionally a comment grips me. Following the review “Exhibition | The MAD Biennial: The Fog Deepens” this came up from Jamie Foxx (it can’t be that Jamie Foxx so it must be the other): “Please donate to CFile so Garth Clark (exclusively) can write biased reviews on an even bigger platform. LOL.”
Foxx gets two things wrong: first is the reason for donating and second that I am the exclusive writer. He gets two things right: yes, we are working toward a bigger platform and true, I am biased.
I am the Chief Editor but not the exclusive reviewer for CFile. Nor do I write most of the posts. That honor goes to our gifted journalist and general editor Bill Rodgers. Most of the New York reviews will be coming from our New York editor Eric Zetterquist. We are looking for funding to hire another full time writer for our Santa Fe team and for a European and an Asian editor. At the moment, Janet Abrams is just back from London after reviewing Ceramics in the Expanded Field, a conference, for CFile. The purpose of fundraising is to expand the team of writers so I can, happily, write less. So Mr. Foxx, if you want more variety, donating to CFile is exactly the way to achieve that goal.
We have posted many other critical voices in our short life from Roberta Smith to Peter Saltz. Interviews come from some of the most interesting vantage points, Sterling Ruby on Ron Nagle, for instance. Sculptor Antony Gormley wrote about studio pottery. We also encourage artists to write about their own work as a counterpoint to the criticism. Eric Mirabito’s discussion of his own art is one of the best pieces of writing we have published.
As for me, yes, I am biased as a critic. I am not talking about race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or any other form of bigotry, all of which CFile rejects. This is about art bias. The only writers who have no bias are the ones who simply describe exhibitions but have no opinion. They are not critics.
Every critic dislikes certain aspects of the arts. Some do not like abstraction. Some prefer it. Both are bias. Some have a bias for the figure. Some dislike postmodernism. I recently met a critic who detests any pop culture references because he believes only in high art as a sacred temple floating above the mundane. Some prefer art to be well-crafted while others find it more convincing or authentic when the craft is informal. Preference is bias too.
Then there is personal taste, or if we invert that, personal bias. We cannot escape our taste parameters though we can revise and expand them. We critics like to think that our bias is informed or principled, thus valid. It helps to state one’s bias up front when one writes. We should all exercise caution when we enter what we know is difficult knee-jerk territory. Some do and some don’t. But bias is unavoidable and it is what makes criticism one of the least objective forms of writing.
I would invite Mr. Foxx to do two things. One is to hang around and watch CFile grow and change. It is happening and will accelerate. The other is, when we cover something that fits your preferred bias, let us know. We do not pander to our audience, but we do listen and it shapes our content. Thank you very much for the comment.
Garth Clark is the Chief Editor of CFile.
Above image: Installation view of the NYC Makers exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York City, 2014. The foreground work is Chen Chen and Kai Williams’ dripped cement Moonmilk vase.
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