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Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but criticism lies in the pens and hard drives of our finest minds. This panel discussion draws on some of our leading arts writers as they ask what’s wrong with visual arts reviewing?
This session will be chaired by Peter Mares.
Naomi Cass is the director of the Centre for Contemporary Photography as well as a curator and writer who has worked in the fields of contemporary art, craft and design.
Peter Mares is lead moderator with The Cranlana Programme, an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to developing the ethical decision-making skills of Australia’s leaders. Peter is also contributing editor at Inside Story magazine and adjunct fellow at Swinburne University’s Centre for Urban Transitions. He is a former ABC broadcaster and the author of three books, including No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis (Text 2018).
Patrick McCaughey was art critic of the Age and professor of visual arts at Monash, 1974-1981. Thereafter he spent his life in art museums: as director of the National Gallery of Victoria, the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Ct. and the Yale Center for British Art. He lives in Connecticut and writes.
For over twenty years he has been one of Australia’s best-known art critics, writing a weekly column for the Sydney Morning Herald, and contributing to local and international publications.
Phip Murray is an artist and writer and the Director of West Space. She is a board and editorial member of the independent contemporary art journal Un Magazine.
Why Australian arts criticism is failing us all.
In the first week of September we’re programming a series of events looking at the state of arts criticism in Australia, under the thoroughly prejudicial name of Critical Failure. Too often we hear the cries of scepticism about the quality of local creative output, but what is the truth about the environment into which that output is released? If a film is Australian is it more likely to be over-praised or over-criticised? Are local productions held to the same standards as international? What role does the Cultural Cringe play? Tall Poppy Syndrome? Does the web offer a possibility for a new, more democratic critical environment for the arts in Australia? And what does all this mean for the creation of art locally: what chance does local art have to flourish in an environment where it is too rarely judged on its own terms?
With four panels across four art forms – Theatre, Film, Books and Visual Arts – we review the state of critical culture in Australia and cast a critical eye over Australian reviewing. Featuring some of the finest thinkers and practitioners in the local art scene, this will be a thought-provoking week of discussions that take critical engagement to the next level.
Videos of Critical Failure Sessions
This event is produced in partnership with ABC Radio National.