Friday, February 01, 2013

Art Market Maneker links the The Guardian
“Art English is something that everyone in the art world bitches about all the time,” says Levine, a 42-year-old American artist based in New York and Berlin. “But we all use it.” Three years ago, Levine and his friend Rule, a 29-year-old critic and sociology PhD student at Columbia university in New York, decided to try to anatomise it. “We wanted to map it out,” says Levine, “to describe its contours, rather than just complain about it.”

…Through Sketch Engine, Rule and Levine found that "the real" – used as a portentous, would-be philosophical abstract noun – occurred "179 times more often" in IAE than in standard English. In fact, in its declarative, multi-clause sentences, and in its odd combination of stiffness and swagger, they argued that IAE "sounds like inexpertly translated French". This was no coincidence, they claimed, having traced the origins of IAE back to French post-structuralism and the introduction of its slippery ideas and prose style into American art writing via October, the New York critical journal founded in 1976. Since then, IAE had spread across the world so thoroughly that there was even, wrote Rule and Levine, an "IAE of the French press release ... written, we can only imagine, by French interns imitating American interns imitating American academics imitating French academics".
A formal analysis, with hints of something more, written in a style as mannered as the writing it follows, but a different kind of mannerism: Tory bureaucrat as social scientist rather than French professor of literature as philosopher.  The authors miss that point as well since the French were explicit in their mixture of intellectualism and art, while the Americans were much more serious. The criticism of October was specifically anti-art; its origins were in the prescriptivism of late Greenberg. The authors here as just as serious, as bitter ironists, but the irony is just as opposed to art itself. "Hypothesis, Vocabulary, Syntax, Genealogy, Authority, Implosion":
If IAE implodes, we probably shouldn’t expect that the globalized art world’s language will become neutral and inclusive. More likely, the elite of that world will opt for something like conventional highbrow English and the reliable distinctions it imposes.
Maybe in the meantime we should enjoy this decadent period of IAE….
"...neutral and inclusive."  Correction: I misread at first. The choice is between arbitrary authority and indifference: the end of judgement.

French and Anglo-American schools of philosophy are collapsing into one another and art is collapsing into fashion. Art critics deny their relation to film and book critics; they deny their relation to art historians: they deny the inevitable transition of their own ideas into artifacts. Philosophy is divided among those who argue that history is bunk and proponents of a new metaphysics.  The former argue from exceptionalism as to their own position, and the latter desire a return to the church.

When the great Japanese filmmaker Ozu was dying of cancer, his films were being forgotten. His producer came to visit him and neither said what they both knew: his home dramas were being overshadowed by Samurai epics.  As he leaving, Ozu called him back. 
"What is this?" he said. "Home drama."

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