I teased about it on Friday, but today I'd like to announce a new project here at Thinking About Art: The Artists "Review" Artists Project (ARAP).
The ARAP is intended to merge previous projects hosted at Thinking About Art: The One Word Project OWP) and The Artists Interview Artists Project (AIAP). The OWP attempted to prompt a new line of thought in artists for their own work while the AIAP allowed random interaction and discussion between a huge range of artists. The ARAP will entail the following:
- Any person who identifies himself or herself as an artist may participate in the project.
- When you agree to participate, you will submit one jpeg image (600 pixels at widest dimension, 72 dpi) of an artwork that is most representative of your studio practice.
- Participating artists will be gathered and once a suitable number of participants is obtained, each artist will be randomly assigned to another artist.
- For example, John Smith, Jane Doe and Bobby Thompson are participating artists. Jane might be assigned to John, John to Bobby, and Bobby to Jane.
- The "assignment" is this: you will be given the digital image, title, medium, and size, of an artwork by the artist assigned to you. You will not be given the artist's name or any other information.
- You will then be asked to write a 100-500 word "review" of the artwork you were provided. The "review" can be analytical, intuitive, emotional, instructive, etc. It can be positive or negative. It can be constructive or not. While it can be anything you, the writer, wants it to be, it must address the provided work.
- The "review" will be returned to me and I will send it to the artist whose work it was written about. No names will be shared.
- The artist will then have the option to respond to the review in a maximum of 100 words. They will also be asked to provide one more jpeg of their work, the selection of which is at their discretion.
- Once the response and second jpeg have been received by me, I will publish the materials on Thinking About Art. Both the artist and reviewer will be named and links to their individual Web sites provided. The post will appear in this order: artist and reviewer introduction, first jpeg, "review," second jpeg, and then the brief, optional artist response.
- By participating, you agree to have your work "reviewed" and to "review" another artist's work.
I understand that this project is seemingly more complicated than the previous ones I've hosted. I am happy to answer any questions you might have and I will manage the process from beginning to end.
So, what is all this about? As you've probably noticed, every time I use the word review it is in quotes. The reason for this is that I am no longer sure what an art "review" is today. Is it a re-hashing of the gallery's press release? Is it a description of artwork in a show? Is it a blog post of images? Is it a thorough critical analysis of the exhibition, work and artist? Is it something else entirely?
While I am not certain anyone can accurately define what a "review" is or should be, I am certain of one thing. With the dearth of writing about the arts in our current world (specifically traditional media like newspapers), artists are starving for attention and consideration. At any one time there might be a hundred art shows in Washington, D.C. How many are written about in the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, and the Washington Times? The answer is a tiny fraction.
What do we do about this? Well, I think we turn to new(er) forms of communication such as blogs. We, as artists, take ownership of the problem and we work to correct it. If we want our work to be "reviewed" then let's allow that to happen. Let's have our work "reviewed" and let's "review" another artist's work. Let's get our work out in the world and let's initiate a discussion of it.
Artists put themselves in very difficult positions when they exhibit their work. They put a piece of themselves on the wall and invite strangers to consider it, to think about it, to question it and even critique it. We can't control that interaction but to a large extent it's why we make art. I ask that you share your work with the strangers reading Thinking About Art. I ask that you open yourself up to the "review" of a random artist who wishes to participate as well. I ask that you grant a wish to another artist in similar shoes as yours and write a review of their work. In the end, you will have shared your work with hundreds of people, received a "review" of your work and helped to alleviate the hunger for another artist to receive a "review."
Who knows, perhaps we all might learn something from the exercise.
If you would like to participate in the Artists "Review" Artists Project, please email me (jtkirkland @ gmail dot com). I will be in touch with next steps.