Andrew Fuhrmann

A critic sits reflected in the eye of the artist. Each review is a fragment of autobiography, if it is honest. “My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears and true plain hearts do in the faces rest,” wrote John Donne in The Good-Morrow. The more one writes, the more complete the self-portrait. What can I say about myself that can’t already be deduced from the criticism? What else do I need to say?

I write about dance, books, theatre, music, visual art and who knows what else. I teach at the VCA and am a researcher at the University of Melbourne. I began writing about art as a blogger, a proud amateur, and I suspect that there will always be a trace of ineradicable crudity about my writing, something imperfect and unprofessional, no matter how much I try to smooth it out.

I began writing for RealTime in 2012 and I’ve had some of my happiest art-going experiences as a RealTime correspondent. This is an incredibly important publication, perhaps the only masthead in Australia that is meaningfully committed to engaging with the messy multiplicity of contemporary art, across walls, screens, stages and everywhere else, here and around the world.

 

Personal Website

neandellus.wordpress.com

Exposé

There are always plenty of people standing on the sidelines, shouting about the ethics of arts criticism and the responsibilities of the reviewer. I’ve done a fair bit of this myself. Over the years, I too have proffered many (often contradictory) opinions about what criticism should or should not be. For the moment, I feel like the best thing is simply to get on with doing the criticism.

Of course, it’s good to do the basics well. It’s important to name as many of the artists involved as possible and to pay attention to their different contributions. It’s good to give a sense of what it was like to actually be there, in the same room as the performers. And it is good to describe the bigger cultural picture, and the way that the performance resonates with that in terms of its value and meaning.

Yes, all of that should be sufficient. But the trick is to be more than sufficient. The trick is to say something really true, something about the work that is not easily sayable, that needs to be wrestled with. Does this mean that the critic should also be an artist, or like an artist? I don’t know. It’s a thing that people say. But I really don’t know.

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