THE CRISIS OF CRITICISM by Maurice Berger

THE CRISIS OF CRITICISM

Cultural Criticism Today
edited by
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of provocative, often insightful essays on the endangered state of contemporary arts criticism. Alarmed by critics’ failure to act as —aesthetic mentors— to difficult new work, editor Berger, a senior fellow at the New School’s Vera List Center for Art and Politics, has selected a diverse range of essays that speak to the challenges critics now face. Berger’s contributors, Homi Bhabha, Arlene Croce, bell hooks, Joyce Carol Oates, and Wayne Koestenbaum, among others, all harbor profoundly different opinions on critics’ responsibilities, and Berger highlights those contrasts by launching his collection with a now-infamous article by Croce. The dance critic for the New Yorker refused to see Bill T. Jones’s —Still/Here,— about AIDS, and yet savaged it anyway, calling the piece a prime example of —victim art.— Jones, who is black, gay, and HIV-positive, had committed the apparently unpardonable act of including gravely ill performers; as a result, Croce considered his work to be —undiscussable.— And yet her dismissal provides the grounds for lively debate: Joyce Carol Oates and Homi Bhabha rebut Croce’s points with verve and clarity. The collection benefits from such momentum; unfortunately, it isn’t uniformly sustained—as when the subject changes to fashion, for example. On the whole, however, Berger has chosen contributors fearless enough to question the role of the critic in a society that has become increasingly hostile toward artists and their work and brave enough to implicate themselves in the failing of much art criticism. As he surely intended, their honesty supports his own argument for criticism that —breaks through the constraints of adjectives to inspire, move, and incite the reader.— Although Berger’s outlook is grim, his collection offers the undeniable pleasure of reading intellectually stimulating arguments about the role of contemporary criticism.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-56584-417-3
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionAMERICAN AUDACITY by William Giraldi
by William Giraldi