Crritic!, 2009 – 12

NIPAF 09, Tokyo, Japan; Nottingham Chameleon Gallery; Catalyst Arts, Belfast; Solent University, Southampton.


As a Visiting Lecturer to art schools internationally, I am sometimes invited to lead a ‘Crits’ session for students by responding to their work hung around the studios. Deciding, in a variety of situations over a period of three years, to introduce a performance element to this arrangement, I dressed for the part as an eccentric, dickie-bowed Visiting Lecturer, giving ‘feedback’ to various paintings on show. Upon reaching a painting that I’d planted on the wall beforehand, though, instead of speaking, I began softly growling at it. Then, building up to a visceral barking and spitting at the canvas, I removed my belt to whip the offending daub. Ripping it from the wall I would chew the canvas away from the frame, snap the frame apart and ended by stamping on the pile of trashed ex-painting.

The students’ reactions ranged from bemusement to horror although one or two of them gave me a hand in pulling the frame apart and tore the chewed canvas up further.
Quite a definitive ‘crriticism’!

(In Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1956), an exchange of insults between Vladimir and Estragon builds up through ‘moron!’, ‘sewer rat!’, ‘curate!’, ‘cretin!’ to reach the final, definitive insult ‘crritic!’ to which Vladimir has no riposte.)

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