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Art Criticism & Agendas: Specific Language & Relative Positions

JUNE 22, 3-5PM
SOHO20, 56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn, NY

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A conversation with Amy Fung, Ariel Goldberg, and Lindsay Preston Zappas, moderated by Mira Dayal

SOHO20 and A.I.R. Gallery are pleased to announce the third 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 invites art critics 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.

The third panel in the series, Art Criticism & Agendas: Specific Language & Relative Positions, will bring together Amy Fung, Ariel Goldberg, and Lindsay Preston Zappas to speak with Dayal at SOHO20 on June 22nd. This conversation will focus on the shifting vocabularies writers use to frame and critique art and artists, specifically unpacking how decisions to label and classify can both lend weight to and detract from the work at hand. The origins of Goldberg’s book The Estrangement Principle are described on its back cover: “I began collecting the phrase ‘queer art’ in all its sweaty megaphone pronouncements.” Amid chapters investigating the complexities of locating and identifying with their communities of artists and writers, Goldberg observes, “Perhaps it is not that I want to stop critiquing what is called ‘queer art’ but just to recover from being barraged by it… I don’t want reinvention. I want more specific language.” Zappas echoes this sentiment—and laments a related barrage of words—in “The Languages of All-Women Exhibitions:” “How do you know if an exhibition will include only women? It will tell you. And it often tells you loudly, and in advance.” In studying the implications of promotional materials for shows focused on women, she continues, “It is indeed this question of naming that is paramount in the re-historicization of women artists today, as it shapes the future narrative of their historically tenuous careers.” Naming has always been an act of power, of recognition, but it can also misfire and warp. What vocabularies do we need now, and how should we use them? As Fung writes in “How to Review Art as a Feminist and Other Speculative Intents,” “How we write matches what we are going to write… How to review art as a feminist is to understand the world and our relative positions within it. How have we come to this position and how will we engage?”

Attendees are requested to read the selected texts in advance for context, although all are welcome to thoughtfully respond to the discussion regardless of preparation. The cited chapter of Ariel Goldberg’s The Estrangement Principle was published with e-flux here.

Amy Fung is a writer, researcher, and curator born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, and spent her formative years in and around Edmonton on Treaty 6 Territory. Her writing has been published and commissioned by national and international publications, galleries, museums, festivals, and journals since 2007. Her multifarious curatorial projects have spanned exhibitions, cinematic and live presentations, as well as discursive events across Canada and abroad. Before I Was a Critic I Was a Human Being (Artspeak and Book*hug Press) is her first book.

Ariel Goldberg‘s publications include The Estrangement Principle (Nightboat Books, 2016) and The Photographer (Roof Books, 2015). Goldberg’s writing has most recently appeared in Afterimage, e-flux, Artforum, and Art in America. Goldberg teaches at Pratt Institute and The New School. From 2014-2017, they organized readings at The Poetry Project and they are the 2018-9 Zuckerman Fellow, Curator of Community Engagement at the Jewish History Museum in Tucson, AZ.

Lindsay Preston Zappas is an L.A.-based artist, writer, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Carla. She received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2013. She has contributed to ArtReview, Flash Art, LA Canvas, Artsy, Art21, KCRW, and others. Her solo exhibition, I Forgot My Shoes, will be on view at the Buffalo Institute of Contemporary Art this summer.

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 associate editor at Artforum. Dayal’s recent studio work has focused on skins, scrolls, metaphors, and membranes. Past shows include A Hairline Crack at Gymnasium, Anagen at Lubov, Material Metaphors at NARS Foundation, 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 feminism for venues including CUE Art Foundation, Helena Anrather Gallery, A.I.R. Gallery, and Barnard College. Dayal’s curatorial practice primarily engages the work of emerging and underrepresented artists. She often works collaboratively.

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


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