Skip navigation

Drawing from these incidents and precedents, an “ethical turn” in art criticism might mean redefining the role of a critic to function more as participant-observer, a facilitator, or even a griot, with critical duties shared or handed over to participants. Criticism might be more durational than episodic. Art magazines and newspapers are still tied to the institutional exhibition format—and advertising dollars—but the Internet offers freedom to invent new genres, from blogging and social media to ad hoc or formalized discussion groups, Tumblrs, and other forms of culture-jamming, beyond the review, feature, or the proto-canonizing “critical essay…What ethical criticism demands is that we look more closely at the “container” or context as well as the object, performance, or action; that we move beyond Eagleton’s Marxist “cultural politics” to consider our affective attachments to the current systems of art and writing; and that we take a truly radical (i.e., root) approach to changing these things.

It is scary to think about ethics, just as it is frightening to think about change. And yet, it’s really just another branch on the same Western-philosophical tree (just the one that doesn’t support capitalism). We have “mastered” aesthetic criticism. Now it’s time for an ethical one, because, as usual, artists have already gotten there first, creating work that either proposes or implements new modes of focus, value, and exchange. It’s not just a question of altering the world for the sake of it, out of boredom or caprice: change, in many other forms, has already found us.

-Martha Schwedener “Ethical Criticism” (Brooklyn Rail)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: