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Art Criticism & Agendas: Representation & Expansion


MAY 19, 3PM
A.I.R. Gallery, 155 Plymouth St, Brooklyn, NY

A conversation with Merray Gerges and Jessica Lynne, moderated by Mira Dayal

A.I.R. Gallery and SOHO20 are pleased to announce the next conversation in a collaborative programming series, Art Criticism & Agendas, happening at both spaces this spring, as a conceptual extension of SOHO20’s “Rethinking Feminism” initiative.  For Art Criticism & Agendas, SOHO20 Curatorial Fellow Mira Dayal brings art critics together to consider how they position their criticism as an act of solidarity, for whom, and on what terms. In one of its earliest uses, solidarity—a complicated term whose meaning has shifted over time—was tied to the concept of debt, signifying that each involved party could be held financially responsible for another. By implication, mutual support was a kind of social obligation. In thinking about this logic with respect to criticism, what does it mean to have an “agenda” while writing? While “having an agenda” is usually seen as a detriment or conflict, these conversations will consider how this implied level of planning and obligation might be productive for feminist objectives.

For the second panel in the series, Art Criticism & Agendas: Representation & Expansion, on May 19th at A.I.R. Gallery, Merray Gerges and Jessica Lynne will be in conversation with Mira Dayal. Building on the terms soft talk and solidarity, explored in the first panel with Leslie Dick and Annie Godfrey Larmon, this panel will begin with the term representation as explored in Merray Gerges’s essay “On Being a Critic of Colour in February,” where she delves into the expectations placed on critics of color to write about underrepresented artists, and the necessity for writers to be able to represent their own interests. In an epistolary essay signed “In solidarity,” Jessica Lynne explores the mission and changing context of her publication ARTS.BLACK (co-founded with Taylor Renee), while addressing the complications of considering art “as a place of refuge.” In these and other writings, both writers grapple with expansion—of the field of art criticism, of perceptions of their criticisms, and of the roles of writers and editors.

Attendees are requested to read the selected essays in advance for context, although all are welcome to thoughtfully respond to the discussion regardless of preparation.

The third panel in this series, with writers Amy Fung, Ariel Goldberg, and Lindsay Preston Zappas, will take place on June 22nd at SOHO20.

Merray Gerges writes around art rather than about it. She studied art history at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and journalism at King’s in Halifax, where she co-founded and co-edited CRIT, a free biannual criticism publication. She was editorial resident at Canadian Art in 2016, and assistant editor there from 2017 to 2019. She is now editorial fellow at C Magazine, where she is conceptualizing and commissioning a year of themed issues. Her work has appeared in Canadian Art, C Magazine, MOMUS, Hyperallergic, the Walker Reader, and more, addressing issues ranging from the radical potential (and shortcomings) of intersectional feminist memes and art selfies, to art-world race politics.

Jessica Lynne is a founding editor of ARTS.BLACK, an online journal of art criticism. Her writing has been featured in publications such as Art in America, The Believer, BOMB Magazine, and elsewhere. She is currently at work on a collection of essays about family, faith, and the American South.

Mira Dayal is an artist, critic, and curator based in New York. She is the founding editor of the Journal of Art Criticism, co-curator of the collaborative artist publication prompt:, and an assistant editor at Artforum. Dayal’s studio work has focused on the routines and materialities of language and the body. Her most recent solo exhibition was at Lubov gallery in January 2019. Past shows include Material Metaphors at NARS Foundation, Spectral Imprints at A.I.R. Gallery on Governor’s Island, and Volley at Abrons Art Center. Extending and researching these interests, Dayal has previously curated programming and exhibitions on the subjects of intimacy, material residues, and commemoration for venues including Helena Anrather Gallery, A.I.R. Gallery, the Pfizer Building, and Barnard College; she also assisted New Museum curator Margot Norton with research for Sequences VIII: Elastic Hours, a biennial in Reykjavik. Dayal’s curatorial practice primarily engages the work of emerging and underrepresented artists. In September 2018, she curated a show of Lizzy De Vita and Hong Seon Jang for 5-50 Gallery, followed by Formula 1 at CUE Art Foundation, where she is a Curatorial Fellow, in April 2019.

This program is funded in part by the Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a conceptual extension of the +/- Project Space.


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