Friday, October 22, 2010

Realization: Reactive

I had an interesting time--in a good way!--talking at Sheridan the other day. There's a a few reasons for that.

First is that I can never get over what a great building Sheridan College has for its visual arts program--the Annie Smith Centre may seem cramped to some, but it's also got a very strong cottagey, cozy, studio-centric feel. Relaxed but active, you know? I don't know if people who actually inhabit it feel quite the same way, but just visiting is nice. Then again, I studied art in the rabbit warren that is NSCAD's Granville Street campus, so there could be a strong nostalgia factor at work.

Second was that my exchanges with attendees underlined for me that my practice/job is a very reactive one at this point in time. I kind of knew that already, but the point was sharpened for me as one person asked about whether I ever write just kind of free form to figure something nebulous out, or to gather a kind of range of experience into a collected, cohesive form. I said no, though I think it would be a good idea for me to try and do more of that in future. At this point, I'm basically always reacting to deadlines, to artworks, to texts, etc. I'm grateful to be busy, especially in this economy, but it does generate a certain state of mind.

Another person asked about whether the increasingly popular Q&A format reflected a more communal or collaborative approach to art criticism or making meaning from art. I hadn't really thought about that; being someone who works in media, offered the perspective some writers have: that Q&As are proliferating in part because they often take less time to do than a feature article on the same topic. It's a reaction to budgets--both of money and of time--is the way I was viewing it.

Anybody else want to react here with their comments on creativity vs. reactivity in criticism? (It's still an okay thing to do, I promise!)

(And oh, yes, that's right, I *am* pulling out the Far Side for this one, people. Cartoon via The Lowy Interpreter)


Ingrid Mida said...

Those are great questions. You must have had to think fast on your feet.
Q&A is a quick and dirty way to do a profile. It takes only a little editing and perhaps an intro before publishing. But it also gives the artist a more direct voice, instead of their words being recast and reinterpreted by the writer.

Leah Sandals said...

Hey Ingrid,

Thanks for your comment. To be clear, a Q&A is quicker than a typical feature, but it can be done in a considered way too.

Also, to be devil's advocate, what's hard about a short Q&A is that not all of the interviewees' perspective can really get through unless they are very concise. As with any article, there is invariably material left out.

Imperfect, but better than nothing? I hope so.