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Critic Critique

Posted 8/13/2008

Dear Kate Noonan,

I'm embarrassed for you. It surprises me that someone with your journalistic background and passion would do such a great disservice to the artists featured in the School 33 Art Center exhibition To Overthrow or Overturn ("Group Dynamics," Art, Aug. 6). As curator, I feel it necessary to defend their work against such a lazy chronicling.

I've read your work; you can talk at length about the most dizzying minutiae, your prose literally falling over itself. In this case, however, you hint that there are "bold and ambitious statements" within To Overthrow or Overturn, yet you refuse to elaborate about what that means. Your use of the term "unsophisticated" exposes your own biases instead of providing real, effective critique. An exhibition whose concept is catastrophe cannot be held accountable for a lack of precision, and in addition to missing the entire point, it is irresponsible artistic journalism to compare this exhibition to the one down the street, Passage at the Library. Your description of Chiara Giovando's excellent video installation comes off as an oversimplified description rather than an actual appreciation. Not only are you unable to acknowledge any of the other spectacular work featured in the exhibition, but you couldn't possibly because you ran out of room on the page!

Many of the works in To Overthrow or Overturn were executed within the space of School 33, and most of the works involved were produced exclusively for this exhibition. The home/materials of home, decay, sexuality, and the role of the human body (often as woman) in relation to such things--how did over a dozen artists, all operating independently yet acknowledging the same conceptual rubric, generate such symbolic metanarrative? Apparently, according to you, this phenomenon is not worth exploring. Or comprehending.

Writing like yours--oozingly favorable if the subject matter tickles you, undescriptively dismissive if not--relegates the cultural apprehension of art in this city to superficial review rather than actual reflection. Next time, do us all a favor and don't insult us by delivering off-the-cuff afterthought because you've been forced to do so--you can employ the treatment you deliver to the talented participants of this exhibition and just don't bother.


Alexandra Macchi

The writer is an erstwhile contributor to City Paper.

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Tags: School 33, Chiara Giovando

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