Friday, February 18, 2005

Kick-Ass interview with Julia Dault


I've made fun of her time and time again, and I imagine hope that Ms. Dault doesn't take what I've written too seriously. However in my search for more information about the Toronto Art Awards thin-a-ma-bob, I came across an Interview with Julia Dault, Art Critic on the Torontoist blog.

Written by Ron Nurwisah, and clocking in at a tasty 1,554 words, some of the highlights for me were reading the answers to the following questions: "Did you get advantages from people because of who your father was?" and "Who do you think is going to win?" [in reference to the UAA, and she nails it, although she did give two choices, which might disqualify her in certain circles.]

But the bestest, was her answer to the question "Contemporary art gets this bad rap as being obscure, difficult and sometime even indulgent. What are your thoughts about this?" Where if I'm reading her right, she accepts the premise, gives lip service to how it sucks, and then explains how she is going along for the ride.

In order:
Accepting the premise:
Well there is a culture of insecurity around art viewing. People never trust their own reactions to what they see. Even people reading my pieces, they’ll think I think that was well written but I don’t really understand art.
The lip service:
People judge art mostly... in two ways. There's use value. ... Then there’s this judging based on whether you could do it.
Going along for the ride:
I try to talk about the art and give context. I don’t know if I succeed all the time, but I try to make art more accessible all the time.
I find the insight extremely helpful in understanding how Ms. Dault thinks before she writes. However, when one is limited to less than 500 words per article, aiming for context should be the last thing squeezed in, if there's still space. If I had the gig, I'd be banging people over the head with the largest typewriter I could find. Context be darned, trying to sell newspapers while accepting the insecurity around Contemporary art, and then feeding into that insecurity by attempting to give it context? In under 500 words? If Ms. Dault had been the daughter of Hemingway, perhaps. But it strikes me as an impossible task.

Either, complain, groan, whine and harangue your editors until they give you at least 1,500 words three times a week, and then do the insecurity/context gig. Or accept that the powers that be ain't gonna give you space that is going to the death of hockey (is it dead yet?) and in 500 words or less write the most provocative and enticing report/article (not review) you can on an exhibit.

That all being said, I love the interview, and whole-heartedly cast my vote for more.

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