Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Above image from Ad Reinhardt's 1966 series of "Black Paintings"
It seems that I’ve been spending an awful lot of time over at “The Guardian.” I just stumbled across this piece, “Is Lazy Reporting Harming the Visual Arts?” by Jonathan Jones.
Normally, I read Jones’ work with real pleasure (see earlier post) but this I read with a mixture of boredom and incredulity. Can he really be asking questions about why record-setting auction prices, graffiti, and artistic plagiarism get printed?
Despite the fact that this is a society that thrives on extremes and competition, there’s also a perceived dearth of interest in real, critical, thinking (most American reporters are told to write for an audience of 9th graders). Combine that with the fact that newspapers are reporting record losses (the N. Y. Times just made its previously subscriber-based webpage free in an effort to attract readers), and that many reporters are being asked to juggle several beats, Jones’ call to “to take a hard look at the conventions by which newspapers and online news outlets cover visual art stories,” ignores the reality of the current state of print media.
The question isn’t “What are our arts reporters doing wrong?” It is, “What are our reporters being asked to do?”
Speaking from personal experience, sometimes you have no other choice than to tackle the assigned task-at-hand. And sometimes, that means reporting on insincere bullshit. Like the fellow at the fair making potato-chip "art," or the girl sewing monkey puppets for a Guiness book record (thanks to Mssrs. Sedaris and Green for lovely examples).