Ever since the mid-1990s when the Internet took up residence in our collective homes, hearts, neurons and nervous systems, it has been mooted and bruited that art criticism is in crisis. Like all forms of writing longer than a tweet or a text in this wired, sound bite and image-hungry planet, art criticism’s relevance and raison d’etre has been picked apart. Criticism is routinely criticised for being for being either too intellectual, or not intellectual enough. It is, variously, accused of being jargon-laden and opaque, or market-driven and simplistic; of subordinating concepts to form (or vice versa); of being amateur and irrelevant, or in-house and advertorial.
Contradictory complaints accuse art writing of being both infrequent and incessant. One of the first concerns I heard on moving to Melbourne was, ‘We don’t have a platform for regular reviews here.’ Yet almost everyone will simultaneously tell you that they are ‘overwhelmed’ by the art-related information flooding their inboxes and their social media feeds. So why do we keep adding to this ever-accreting mountain of verbiage, by writing, and then, (more) writing?