Writing on the Web

No. 42 – Buenos Aires, September 2007.

The strongest intellectual debate no longer rages in newspapers or magazines; instead, new generations use the electronic fanzine of the Blog, My Space and Fotolog. Laura Batkis comments on what art criticism is like in the new millennium.

I notice with a certain nostalgia, but also with the joy of refreshing air, that art criticism changes following the change in generation and that the future has arrived and the nineties are now history. I confess that knowing that new people occupy positions in the art world is hard to digest but -as my friend Leo Estol told me- “become an ally”. And so I entered Anita’s blog (Mao and Lenin) and discovered a young woman who I am told seems to be very shy.  Shyness and phobia are two traits that today can be coped with quite well thanks to the electronic space. I remember that when I started writing I was terrified when someone would say “I read you” and even more so when I would go down the line and suddenly someone would also say “I read you” about some dispute written months before a battle I could no longer remember. Issues of the trade, which at the beginning I faced with a Clonazepam. With time, as in everything, I acquired training. 

When I entered Anita’s blog, I was astonished when I read that she thinks that art criticism in the nineties was very academic and university-like, besides beating up those of us who wrote in that decade (Batkis and García Navarro, among others). Then I laughed and confessed that I totally agree, and I also became a fan of her blog. Because she writes with a spontaneity and lucidity that is renewing and also a breath of fresh air. If I were to read myself again (which I never do), the first one to get bored would be me! And it is likely that in the times of the Rojas Cultural Center, Pombo, Gumier Maier and others, we art critics had the need to categorize with very academic frameworks something as elusive as the art and management of those years. When arteBA did not legitimize, Art Now or international art movements were not followed, when “globalization” was a word that did not exist, nor did the Fotolog, nor the blog, nor the immediate desire to be looked at abroad. 

The world has changed, and it’s a good thing. The space for socialization and discussion is now the web, while newspapers struggle to maintain the sacred aura of paper printing with cultural supplements (adn La Nación, which competes with Ñ) and which together with Radar leave no room for reflection due to exhaustion. Culture is in fashion, and that is a fact. But is it really necessary to swallow three cultural supplements every weekend to keep up with intellectual pretensions? I confess that I read Radar and Negra magazine (and La Mano, of course) and have no room to absorb almost anything else. Appetite is now the fashionable gallery that perhaps replaces the independent project that sites like Belleza y Felicidad and Sonoridad Amarilla had. But with a different approach. Daniela Luna, its director, wants to be a businesswoman and achieve relevance abroad, with a plan to open headquarters in New York. 

The panorama is very different from that intuitive Tao led by Gumier Maier from the Rojas Cultural Center. Anita, from her blog, like so many others, is lashing out in that almost maniacal style of writing daily, and minute by minute, every gesture and movement in art. The artists of the 2000 generation do not detach themselves from the immediateness of MSN, and when they appear in the media, they are recognized by their paleness, with a certain grunge style, trash and eternal adolescence. No solemnity. I love this new generation because they are also nice and festive like Dani Umpi. Joy, joy, joy. I enjoyed his show at the Trastienda with its vibes of peace and love, but I also thought what a huge difference with Fito, Soda and everyone I knew before three years ago. 

I confess that from my Fotolog I observe and contemplate this irruption of new intellectuals and interpreters of today’s world. I celebrate the change. And while smoking I hope it lasts longer than the minute it takes for a bottle rocket to hit the ground, and that this enthusiasm does not fade. And here’s to a transgenerational debate.  And I’ll stop here, because through messenger Poxipics is writing me about the presentation at Porto Alegre, and without moving from my chair I find out everything there is to see. Like a home delivery service, today you can travel and see everything without leaving your home, because information arrives. Engrossed, I attend the arrival of this new millennium.