We’re taking a break in August but we’re back on 14 September with a discussion on David Deutsch’s video lecture Why are flowers beautiful? facilitated by John Fortnum.
Join us for the second installment of the Deptford Art & Gentrification Walk on Saturday, 29 September. Meet us at 1pm inside Deptford Railway Station for an afternoon of discussions on the relationship between art and gentrification.
The Critical Theory in Contemporary Art Practice Bursary is a fee-waiver awarded to one applicant who will benefit most from participating in the course, regardless of previous experience, background or education. To apply please download the application form and return it by Monday, 3 September 2018.
[SYMPOSIUM] BOOK CLUB Deutsch: Why are flowers beautiful? Friday, 14 September 2018, 18:30–21:00 LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1ES Facilitated by John Fortnum Suggested donation £2, booking via Eventbrite
[ART&CRITIQUE] ART CRAWL Deptford Art & Gentrification Walk Pt. 2 Saturday, 29 September 2018, 13:00 -18:00
Meet 1pm inside Deptford Railway Station, London SE8 3NU
Curated by Sophia Kosmaoglou and Paul Clayton All welcome, booking not required
[OPPORTUNITIES & ANNOUNCEMENTS] August 2018
The list of opportunities, open calls, deadlines, announcements & vacancies is updated regularly.
If you would like to post your listing for open calls, opportunities or vacancies on the list please use the contact form to send us the details.
IMAGE CREDITS UK Commons Assembly, organised by Public Works and Commons Rising. Tate Modern, Jul 2018. Photo Darshana Vora. Patrick Mimran  Billboard Project, New York. Photo Sophia Kosmaoglou. Robert Mapplethorpe  Sepia Orchid from the series Flowers. Toned photogravure, 50 x 51 cm. Stanford’s Library Map of London & its Suburbs 1864, showing proposed Metropolitan Railways (detail). Philip Guston  Painting, Smoking, Eating. Oil on canvas, 196.8 x 262.9 cm.
Booking is not required but please arrive early, doors will close when the book club starts or if we reach maximum capacity. When you arrive please ring the bell located to the left of the entrance. For more information and to download the text please visit the website.
See you there!
[SYMPOSIUM] BOOK CLUB Adorno: Commitment
Friday, 10 November 2017, 6:30pm-9pm
LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1ES
Facilitated by Nat Pimlott
Suggested donation £2
[OPPORTUNITIES & ANNOUNCEMENTS] NOVEMBER 2017
The list of opportunities, open calls, deadlines, announcements & vacancies is updated regularly.
If you would like to post your listing for open calls, opportunities or vacancies on the list please use the contact form to send us the details.
[SYMPOSIUM] #21 Adorno: Commitment. Flyer by Nat Pimlott. Daniel Clowes  Art School Confidential. Eightball #7, Nov 1991.
Our only event this month Deleuze & Guattari: Rhizome has generated a lot of interest. The event is fully booked and the waiting-list is closed. You are always welcome to make a proposal and chair the reading group on a text of your choice. We will support you through the entire process. Please visit the event page for more information and come to one of our events, to meet people and get a sense of how it works. The structure is simple and flexible. Alternatively, you can start your own reading group!
The [BOOKCLUB] is back again on Friday, 21 April with a discussion of Specific Objects, a 1965 essay by Donald Judd. This discussion will be chaired by Richard Burger.
[SYMPOSIUM] BOOK CLUB Deleuze & Guattari: Rhizome
Friday, 10 March 2017, 18:00 – 20:30
88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH
Chaired by Katie Tysoe and Sophia Kosmaoglou Free, fully booked
IMAGE CREDITS Sylvano Bussoti  XIV piano piece for David Tudor 4. In A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia. New York: Continuum, p.3. Claes Oldenburg  Soft Light Switches. Vinyl filled with Dacron and canvas, 119.4 x 119.4 x 9.1 cm. Ward Shelley  Who Invented the Avant Garde, ver. 2. Oil and toner on mylar, 28.5 x 62.5 inches.
ART&CRITIQUE is a London-based, peer-led alternative art education network dedicated to critical engagement with contemporary art. We employ collaborative, co-operative and collective models of pedagogy and organisation and foster alternative models of art education in a series of public events.
ART&CRITIQUE is open-access, self-organised, self-funded and non-profit. If you’d like to get involved, or if you have an idea for an event or collaboration, please come along to an event or get in touch.
An emergent London based multidisciplinary collective that attempts to question and offer solutions regarding our contemporary context. Their concerns relate to the challenges presented by the Anthropocene, sustainability, disconnection, individualism, Artificial Intelligence, inequalities, among others.
MA Art and Science student at Central Saint Martins (UAL) for 2016-2018. Deputy Head of Foresight in the UK Government Office for Science. Interested in maps, reflections, glass, depth, art-science-politics, socio-economics, climate change, demography, paint and photography.
Richard is a painter. He studied in open access courses at the Chelsea College of Art and at the Art Student League of New York. His practise focuses on portraiture and landscape mainly in oils. One of Richards portraits was selected for exhibition at the NPG BP portrait awards 2016. In the same year he was accepted for a residency at the Vermont Studio Center.
Maria Christoforatou is an artist & visiting lecturer at University of the Arts London. She completed a practice-based MPhil at Chelsea College of Arts & an MA in Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Arts. Her research investigates experiences of displacement through the idea of home & the ways that objects mediate for the artist & become agents of experience for the viewer.
Amanthi is an artist & writer. She studied at Central St Martins & Bristol University. She won the Gatehouse Press New Fictions Prize 2016 for Lantern Evening (2017). Her short stories have been published & broadcast on BBC Radio4. She is part of the V22 Artist Collective & works in 3D & drawing. She runs StoryHug, a project making art & stories in the community.
Laura Hudson is an artist, writer and freelance curator with a background in experimental film, digital technologies and sustainable agriculture. She studied Evironmental Art at Glasgow School of Art & Moving Image at Central St Martins. She worked for Women In Profile, London Filmmakers Co-op, Cinenova Feminist Film Distribution, Arts Council England & FluxIT.
Sophia is an artist, tutor, curator and researcher. She completed a practice-based PhD in Fine Art at Goldsmiths in 2012 and founded ART&CRITIQUE in 2015. She teaches studio practice, critical and contextual studies, history & philosophy of art, curating, video & film production. Research interests include art and politics, art education, radical pedagogy and self-organisation.
Johanna is an artist based in London. She studied anthropology at Goldsmiths & is a co-founder of ArtBrixton. Her work explores self-containment & the struggle against the violence of the mundane in domesticity, relationships & work. She performs in public places with incidental or no human audience & extends her performances through photographs, diagrams & installations.
Dasha Loyko is a practising artist and researcher with a background in philosophy. She works across media, from painting and collage to installation and film. In October 2017 she will begin her studio-based MA in Critical Practice at the Royal College of Art.
Cristina is a curator & art blogger from Mexico. Her research interests are the concepts of infinity, tear & language-games. Her first exhibition as a curator was about an infinite causal chain of words, Transitivity of Implication (2016). She’s an intern at the Museum of Portable Sound as a Curatorial Assistant, she likes to experiment with sound, video & watercolour.
Elliot is a playwright and founding member of Penny Drops Collective, a radical artist / theatre group.
Aris completed a PhD in media & communications at Goldsmiths and has been involved in free and self-organised language programmes for migrants and refugees. He teaches & researches in the field of social theory & media studies from a critical perspective, which means that he is at odds with marketization, careerism & precarious labour conditions in the university.
Ruben is a researcher & currently Diversity Champion at the V&A. He completed an MA in Aesthetics & Cultural Policy at City University (2014) and co-founded the curatorial collective Un-Mapping Futures (2017). His published work explores the intersections between philosophy of art, public participation and the production of discourse on art and its publics.
ART&CRITIQUE is an alternative education network dedicated to critical engagement with contemporary art practice and theory. To get involved please come along to an event. ART&CRITIQUE is self-funded and volunteer-run.
DOWNLOAD Friedrich Nietzsche (2003/1872). The Birth of Tragedy. Blackmask Online. Chapters 1, 16, 17, 23 and 24 (please note this starts from Chapter 1 after the introduction by Nietzsche titled an ‘Attempt at self criticism’ (1886) further down on the PDF under the title the Birth of tragedy).
The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche’s first book, published in 1872 when he was 28, is both a historical study of the origins of Greek tragedy and a complex and compelling argument for the necessity for art in life.
In the Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche describes two competing impulses in Greek culture – the Apollonian and the Dionysian.
Apollo as the god of the plastic or representational arts of painting and sculpture, is associated with beauty and order.
Dionysus in contrast is the god of the non-representational art of music, and associated with flux, mysticism and excess. Through music man is given a true glimpse into the nature of life, and the dissolution of individual identity in communion with nature.
While the Apollonian artist is associated with light and clarity, the Dionysian offers an insight into the darker side of life, a confrontation with the pain and destruction of existence.
Nietzsche argues that these forces and artistic tendencies which were in conflict were merged in Attic tragedy with the combination of the musical chorus and poetry. He believed the combination of these states produced the highest forms of music and tragic drama, which not only reveal the truth about suffering in life, but also provide a consolation for it.
While this mixture of competing forces was richly realised in Attic tragedy Nietzsche traces how the arrival of Socratic culture which prioritised the purely intellectual and rational led to the destruction of myth and the art of the tragedy.
In the second half of the Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche uses this framework as the basis of a critique of the rationalism of late nineteenth-century German culture.
In its wide-ranging discussion of the nature of art, science and religion, Nietzsche’s argument raises questions about the vitality and nature of culture in a secular, rationalist modern world.
It contains themes that will remain important in Nietzsche’s later work – including the ‘will’ (an ultimate force which determines human life which will become in his later work the ‘will to power’) and, as he sets out in his preface to the second edition, a critique of Christianity and modern science as forms of belief that he argues do not bring man close to the real meaning of life.
It also contains the roots of arguments that have proven to be some of Nietzsche’s most influential. It’s critique of rationalism in western culture links it to modernism; in it’s focus on dreams and the origins underlying latent content it also seems to have links to psychoanalysis; and in his search for the unknown origin behind avowed or accepted ones it also presages the work of post-structuralists such as Derrida, whose own work depends on disputing of accepted interpretations and origins.
The birth of tragedy has become one of Nietzsche’s best known and most influential books and a source of a challenging rich argument for how aesthetic experience relates to the meaning of life and other questions that remain central to the practice of art and criticism today.
What is the Apollonian and Dionysian? Is this opposition the right one?
Are there other forces that need to be considered? and is it relevant in interpreting art today?
How does rationalism and science shape modern culture?
What role can myth play in culture now?
Is aesthetic experience the only truth in a secular world?
Where is the Apollonian and Dionysian in modern culture? Does the Dionysian need revival?
Monthly reading group for artists, researchers and anyone interested in the intersections between art practice and critical theory. Everyone is welcome to propose a text and facilitate the reading group. Please book your place and download the shared document. For more information and an archive of previous events please scroll down.
Free & open access
The reading group is free and open to everyone who wants to join as long as they commit to the reading. Please register and arrive early, doors will close when we reach maximum capacity. Don’t forget to download the shared document and bring a hard-copy to the book club. Please consider donating to help cover our expenses and keep us going.
Discussion & decision-making
Texts are selected by group consensus on the basis that they reflect on the relationship between practice and theory. This includes a broad variety of texts, from philosophy to politics and aesthetics to science fiction – there is no limitation.
Facilitating the book club
[SYMPOSIUM] is a supportive community of peers who discuss and unpack their research interests. All participants have the opportunity to facilitate the book club on a text of their choice. If you would like to propose a text, you can start preparing right now:
 Decide on a text that you want to discuss.
 Do some background research and write a short introduction to provide some context, from your own perspective. When was it written? Why was it written? Who wrote it? Was it a response to something else? Why are you interested in the text? How does it relate to, or inform, your practice or your research?
 Pace the reading. How long is the text? If it is short, can we discuss the entire text in a 2-hour book club? If the text is long you may need to divide it up between two or more sessions.
 Write down some questions that you would like to bring to the discussion. Suggest some further reading and an image or two, with captions.
 Download the infosheet and send us your proposal.
Disastrous and distressing in so many ways, 2016 was also an encouraging start for [ART&CRITIQUE]. The network has grown exponentially, we introduced new regular and one-off events, we participated in the Antiuniversity Now! Festival and we were interviewed on Dissident Island Radio. We have a new Event Calendar and we’ve started a new Members & Contributors section, we have a new fast server and domain (artandcritique.uk), and we’re migrating the data. To support this work we have started collecting donations at our events and although we’re far from breaking even, the project is more sustainable. In 2017 we have plans for new regular events, exhibitions, workshops, courses, collaborations, participation in festivals and an alternative art education co-op. Thanks to everyone who has contributed, participated and supported this project. If you’re interested in participating, contributing or collaborating please come to one of our events or contact us. Looking forward to see you in 2017!
[SYMPOSIUM] O’Sullivan: The Aesthetics of Affect Friday, 13 January 2017, 18:00 – 20:30
V22 Louise House, Dartmouth Rd, London SE23 3HZ Free, please book your place
For our first event in 2017 we’re heading to Forest Hill to discuss Simon O’Sullivan‘s 2001 essay The Aesthetics of Affect: Thinking Art Beyond Representation with Katie Tysoe.
[COURSE] Critical Theory in Contemporary Art Practice 12 Jan – 16 Mar 2017, Thursdays 6pm-8:30pm
Chelsea College of Arts, 16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU This intensive course provides an encompassing introduction to key discourses that inform the production and interpretation of contemporary art, a supportive environment to articulate your practice, and a critical framework to exchange ideas on art production, exhibition & reception.
[ANNOUNCEMENTS & OPPORTUNITIES]
The list of deadlines, announcements and opportunities is absolutely brimming this month. To view the list please follow the link to visit the page. Please check back because the list is updated regularly. To post open calls, opportunities or vacancies on this list please use the contact form to send us the details.
Wassily Kandinsky  Circles in a Circle. Oil on canvas, 98.7 x 96.6 cm. Ward Shelley  Who Invented the Avant Garde, ver. 2. Oil and toner on mylar, 28.5 x 62.5 inches.
For our first event in December we’re heading to leafy Crystal Palace for a [STUDIOCRIT]. Join us this Saturday, 3 December to view the work of Johanna Kwiat and discuss Tampering, survival and the everyday. This event is free but due to limited capacity booking is essential.
On Friday, 9 December we’re reading The Four Similitudes from The Order of Things by Michel Foucault (1970) at [SYMPOSIUM]. This discussion will be chaired by Penelope Kupfer. Please note that this event is taking place at MayDay Rooms.* For more information, to book your place and download the text please follow the links.
There’s no [ARTCRAWL] in December 2016 while we have a winter break but it will be back again on the last Saturday of the month from January 2017.
*The Field will be closed during the next couple of months for renovations and maintenance. If you know any free or affordable venues for our events in the meantime please let us know.
[STUDIO CRIT] Johanna Kwiat: Tampering Saturday, 3 December 2016, 14:00–16:00 19 Farquhar Road, London SE19 1SS
Rail: Crystal Palace, Gipsy Hill
Free, please book your place
In December we’re heading to Crystal Palace to view and discuss the work of Johanna Kwiat. After graduating from Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, Johanna studied Fine Art at Working Men’s College in London. She is based in London and currently works from ASC studios. Johanna is a co-founder partner of Art Brixton.
UPDATE ON [SYMPOSIUM] #04 BARTHES: THE DEATH OF THE AUTHOR
In February’s [SYMPOSIUM] we discussed Roland Barthes’ influential essay The Death of the Author (1977). Many thanks to everyone for their contributions to a very productive event. It was great to see everyone again and to welcome some new faces. A special thanks to Henrietta Ross for leading, chairing and summarising the discussion.
Henrietta got us off to a great start by suggesting three broad thematic approaches with the questions: What is an author? What is a text? and What is a reader? She also suggested that we address the question: What does the text mean? Adding that we might want to contest the terms of this question in light of Barthes’ own resistance to fixed meaning. And finally, she suggested that we might want to discuss the roles of the critic, of ideology and of literature.
We addressed all of these issues, maintaining some consistency with each term but also skipping back and forth between them. We questioned the difference between an author, a writer and a scriptor in Barthes’ terms, and came to the conclusion that beyond the “authority” of the Author, and the “performance” of the narrator, there was ambiguity around these terms. We also briefly alluded to the “author function”, which Barthes introduces in Authors and Writers (1960) and Foucault takes up in What is an Author? (1969). We adhered to a structuralist definition of a text as any cultural artefact that can be “read” and interpreted, we therefore discussed artworks as texts and stopped to ponder whether a scientific article could also be considered a text in this light, or whether Barthes was only referring to literary texts. We discussed Barthes’ premise that readers bring the text to life by reading it “here and now” as Johanna pointed out, thereby interpreting the text in a multitude and variety of different ways, and we were left with the vivid image of tiny reader-maggots feasting on the Author’s dead body. We didn’t address the question of how we construct meaning per se, and we might want to come back to this in the future. We also discussed the role of the maligned critic, who fixes or determines the meaning of a text authoritatively in public forums, referring to exhibition display texts as examples. We will have a chance to return to this subject when we discuss Brian Sewell’s review Tate Triennial 3 (2006), which will be led by Richard Lloyd-Jones in May.
We briefly addressed the question of ideology by considering the question of whether there is a need for a determinate meaning, and why, despite the influence and verity of Barthes’ premise that meaning is constructed subjectively and constantly shifting, there is nevertheless a general consensus on the meaning of texts? We posited peer pressure and the natural social tendency we have for consensus or sameness.
Henrietta summed up the discussion elegantly with a prescient observation on the topic of ideology, in her own words:
“…while I found the discussion of the role of the author in the production of texts such as works of art interesting, for me what is most engaging about Barthes’, and wider post-structuralist ideas, is their implications for ideologies. And the possibility of considering ideologies, alongside ‘image, music, [art]’ etc, as ‘texts’. In Mythologies Barthes discussed a wide range of activities: from drinking wine to wrestling, as cultural texts which have a role in creating ideologies. The ideas he discusses with regard to authorship in The death of the author suggest that the reader might not just be key to the understanding or the creation of meaning in writing (for example) but also ideologies. This suggests a concept of ideologies or hegemonies not as top-down, one-way or imposed narratives, but something that a wide variety of actors are involved and complicit in establishing and sustaining. While this might be a concept that is discussed or suggested by a variety of social theorists or philosophers I think the way in which Barthes and other post-structuralists come to this position through the consideration of linguistic theory and semiotics is interesting.” (Ross, 2016)
The jury is out on whether we would like to come back to the subject of ideology in the future. We could approach it via Louis Althusser’s “state apparatuses”, Antonio Gramsci’s “cultural hegemony” or a range of other approaches.
A feature by Dave Beech titled On Critique in the February 2016 issue of Art Monthly is relevant to the discussion we had about whether artworks can in fact be “read” and creates a link between Barthes and the texts by Marcel Duchamp and Brian Sewell that we will be discussing in April and May.
Beech begins by addressing his early critical writing and goes on to discuss the tension between looking at and reading about art. Beech shares the discomfort that many artists have with the idea of “reading” artworks, he sees it as a “misreading of CS Pierce or a misapplication of Ferdinand Saussure’s linguistics to non-linguistic material” (Beech, 2016, p. 7). I am similarly resistant to the idea that an artwork can be broken down to a code or a set of rules, like a language. Language is not merely a series of words that must be deciphered, language is governed by syntactical and grammatical rules. Although poets might play around with these rules, artists’ materials are not primarily linguistic. Artists may indeed think in linguistic terms about their work but they also think in terms of images, shapes, colours, pressures, textures, qualities, quantities, equivalences, oppositions and so on. All these values are governed by diverse and conflicting rules once we free them from narrowly aesthetic definitions. Do artists always think in narrowly aesthetic or art-historical categories? Do viewers approach art from narrowly aesthetic or art-historical perspectives? Artists, viewers and critics bring all kinds of other approaches and discourses into their engagement with art (personal experience, science, mysticism, critical theory, etc).
Wittgenstein claimed that we cannot conceive of something that we do not have the language to describe:
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” (Wittgenstein, 1922, p. 74)
This is true to an extent; the structure of our language (its ideology) limits the kinds of thoughts we can have – to come full circle to what Henrietta said about ideology. When Derrida refers to language as a structure that both makes possible and limits play (Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences, 1966), he is talking about language as ideology. The concept of ideology in Marxist thought articulates the relation between culture and political economy. Ideology is a naturalised framework of assumptions about the world that we internalise. In Althusser’s words, ideology does not constitute “the system of the real relations which govern the existence of individuals”, it constitutes the “imaginary relation of those individuals to the real relations in which they live” (Althusser, 1971, p. 165). For Althusser, ideological state apparatuses are the material manifestations of ideology in practices and institutions. Language is arguably the primary social institution, it makes possible but limits the freedom of the agents who use it.
But I disagree with Wittgenstein, on the basis that if we could express everything that we conceive, perceive and feel in words, then we would have no need for art. Wittgenstein’s assertion also suggests that we can think of nothing that someone else has not thought of and named already. But we evidently can and do have original and unique thoughts and we don’t use language for all of them (how we articulate them and whether we reject them out of habit are different questions, Arthur Koestler goes into this in The Act of Creation, 1964).
I am reluctant to admit that artworks follow rules but, apart from rare exceptions, they generally do and this has grave consequences for my argument against Wittgenstein above and my faith in the liberating power of art. Wittgenstein says that if we change the rules of a game, we change the game (Wittgenstein, 1968). When an artist breaks the rules, art is redefined in the process. But evidently that doesn’t happen very often, instead there’s a fashionable shift now and then in the general sameness that is paraded in galleries and museums all over the world, until the next novelty comes along to spread the sameness.
The other reason that Beech offers for taking issue with “reading” artworks involves what he calls a “process of prolonged looking”, which he finds “inadequate for the works that engaged [him] the most” (Beech, 2016, p. 7). He finds that thinking and reading about these artworks in their absence is a better way to understand them. This is the main crux of his argument and I thought it might be interesting to debate it because looking and observing is generally considered a cornerstone in visual arts education – even in art schools that shun the discipline of drawing – and what about photography and film-making? I reckon that thinking and reading about artworks in their absence is certainly a good way of learning new things and generating ideas of your own – which brings us back full circle to the death of the author. Beech uses artworks as an inspiration and starting point for his own writing – so maybe this article is about how to generate critique and not about how to look at art after all, something he admits in his introduction:
“When I began writing, reviewing exhibitions in London in the 1990s, I was immediately struck by the contrast between my initial impressions of an exhibition and what I came to say about the work. Not always, but often enough to cause concern, in the time it took me to write about art my response shifted from enjoyment to disapproval. The practice of writing turned me from a consumer into a judge.” (Beech, 2016, p. 5)
Althusser, Louis (1971). Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. In Lenin and Philosophy. New York: Monthly Review Press, pp. 128-194.
Barthes, Roland (1977). The Death of the Author. In Image Music Text, trans. Stephen Heath. London: Fontana, pp. 142-148.
Barthes, Roland (1993). Authors and Writers. In A Barthes Reader, Susan Sontag ed. New York: Vintage, pp. 185-193.
Beech, Dave (2016). On Critique. Art Monthly, February 2016, pp. 5-8.
Derrida, Jacques (2005/1996). Structure, sign and play in the discourse of the human sciences. In Writing and Difference. London: Routlege, pp. 353-354.
Foucault, Michel (1977). What is an Author? In Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, Donald F. Bouchard ed. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, pp. 113-138.
Koestler, Arthur (1975). The Act of Creation. London: Picador.
Ross, Henrietta (2016). Personal communication, 16 Feb 2016.
Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1922). Tractatus Logico Philosophicus. London: Kegan.
Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1968). Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.