Joint Venture

October 9, 2014

For the art market, it seems to be necessary that everything it touches become a blockbuster. Therefore, we begin to wish that criticism be a success for the public and an obligatory reference for the disoriented masses who review the fairs. But art criticism is hardly a genre: it is asked to fill the contemporary art stadiums that, already filled with people and sponsors, still need long texts with academic jargon. Is that criticism? Something that occupies a place in a system? Which could occupy an even larger place if investors appeared?

There may be many authors and magazines scattered throughout Latin America (Caín, El Flasherito, Tatuí, Artishock come to mind), but for the art market it still seems insufficient. However, few things in the world need the popularity of Acapulco to be better; and an effervescent abundance of professionals writing about art would be an indirect manifestation of disaster for criticism as a genre. Confusing an object with its measurable characteristics is an error; confusing an intellectual tradition with its access to the cultural supplements of newspapers, best-selling book lists, and museum conference calendars is to commit the same mistake.

The critics who are still read (think of the recent recovery of Clement Greenberg), are read for what remained hidden in their books, rather than for the professional space they might have once held in the art system. Is there nothing remaining to be read in Oscar Masotta, in Mário Pedrosa? Art criticism stays alive, or not, depending on the magnitude of the objects it confronts or constructs. Its relative absence in the professional networks of art is an advantage. (Its nemesis—this one ubiquitous—is another genre: the gossip column.) Criticism continues on its path, masked, far from the English clichés present in every minuscule event presented by fairs, museums and universities in Latin America (project room and conversation program, for example), as proof of the English-speaking vocabulary of a thousand words, always novel and always the same, of the nouveau riche of every era.