This article on “International Art English” co-authored by the University of Chicago’s own David Levine is so fantastic, and such a brilliant criticism of the atrocious writing that plagues the visual art world (and, probably, to a lesser extent, the arts in general). I laughed so hard reading this.
A taste, from the most recent Triple Canopy:
“IAE has a distinctive lexicon: aporia, radically, space, proposition, biopolitical, tension, transversal, autonomy. An artist’s work inevitably interrogates, questions, encodes, transforms, subverts, imbricates, displaces—though often it doesn’t do these things so much as it serves to, functions to, or seems to (or might seem to) do these things. IAE rebukes English for its lack of nouns: Visual becomes visuality, global becomes globality, potential becomes potentiality, experience becomes … experiencability.”
Brilliant! Read this. I have vivid memories (from a former job) of reading various documents produced by my department and feeling at once overwhelmed and totally irritated. These writings are, in and of themselves, pieces of work, and they do not serve to elucidate the artists’ meaning or intent. I left that job feeling like I didn’t understand how to speak English. Now I know why: I was actually reading transliterated French philosophical jargon from the 1950s.
My life makes sense now. Thanks to Jack for sharing this with me.
For further enjoyment: The Artist John Russell’s ‘Fax Bak’ Service
(forgive this bonkers formatting on the quote, it makes me so sad)