CFS: Reframing the Critical: Art, Theory and Instruction

Reframing the Critical: Art, Theory and Instruction

Edited by Pamela Fraser, Roger Rothman, Randall Szott

For decades the concept of “critique” has been central to the making and theorizing of art. Recently however it has become less and less clear that the act of debunking deserves to be recognized as the sine qua non of contemporary practice. The appearance of terms such as the “speculative,” the “reparative” and the “constructive” suggests an emerging “post-critical” paradigm. But the shape of this new paradigm is by no means clear: is it possible to abandon critique altogether? Is it desirable? Which of the alternatives provide the most compelling way forward?

This book aims to address both the limits of, and the alternatives to, the critical approach to making and analyzing contemporary art. By drawing on more than twenty diverse perspectives, Reframing the Critical will provide new ways of thinking about the power of critique (both real and imagined) as well as explore a range of alternative criteria, methods, and orientations. With contributions from artists, critics, curators and historians, this book will be a crucial tool for students of studio art and their instructors who are seeking to think beyond the critical.

The book begins by examining the assumptions and limitations of the critical paradigm, including its implicit assertion that, to be significant, works of art must be engaged in acts of unmasking and debunking. Such are the principles of Adornian critical theory and Derridian deconstruction. But what has become of the critical gesture? To what extent has it become a rote, ritualized and toothless act?

In addition to the reappraisal of critique (as theory and practice), the book explores a variety of new and recently reclaimed criteria for contemporary art and its pedagogy. Some propose “affect” as the site of post-critical practice. Others seek to reclaim such allegedly discredited concepts as intimacy, tenderness, spirituality, and affirmation.

The book is based on a panel discussion organized by Pamela Fraser and Randall Szott for the 2013 conference of the College Art Association. The book will include contributions from artists, critics, curators and historians. Most contributions are to be 2,000 to 4,000 word essays, but alternative forms and lengths are also welcome.

Send abstracts (150-300 words) to all three editors by January 1, 2014.;;