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RANDOM THOUGHTS ON CRITS:

A “crit” is a seminar in which student-artists present their work for collective critique

Crits have no rules except students have to listen to and respect each other.

Crits may be opportunities to hash out communal meanings, but that doesn’t mean that students finish the semester with uniform values.

Group critiques offer a unique situation in which everyone focuses on the student’s work with a mandate to understand it as deeply as possible.

Crits can also be painful rituals that resemble cross-examinations in which artists are forced to rationalise their work and defend themselves from a flurry of half baked opinions that leave them feeling torn apart.

To get the most out of your crit, you have to have a mysterious blend of complete commitment to your decisions and total openness to reconsider everything. There is no point in being too brazen.

Falling apart in a crit is not as shameful as one might expect. Intellectual breakdown is an essential component of pedagogy.

Exhaustiveness is necessary. Key. Endurance is also essential. When one has nothing to say, that becomes the question, in which case that’s a really interesting conversation.

Crits prepare students for a professional career because “negotiating interviews, conversations with critics, press releases, catalogues, and wall texts are part of the responsibility of the artist. It helps them develop thick skins and come see criticism as rhetoric rather than personal attack. Also students need to understand their motivations, deeply, to discover which parts of their practice are expendable.

CRITICALITY shouldn’t be confused with being harsh or hostile, because you can be unthinkingly negative; it’s a deep inquiry so as to expose a dialectic. If you are on autopilot, you are not critical.

Criticality is a strategy for the production of knowledge. Our view is that art should interrogate the social and cultural ideas of its time. Other places might want a work to produce pleasure or feelings.

Criticality is the code word for a model of art-making that foregrounds research and analysis rather than instincts and intuition.

You can do anything you want if you can defend it.

“The people who matter most for artists are the peer group. If you look at art history, all the Renaissance artists knew their contemporaries. So did the impressionists. There was a moment in their lives when they were all friends and acquaintances. The cubists were not simply individual geniuses. Their greatest works happened in conjunction. Who was Van Gogh’s best friend? Gauguin.”

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