“To take part and meet with other colleagues in Austria with the honorable selection of AİCA – Austria and Verein K, was so productive and full of unique experience from my perspective.
In Graz, I had to chance to observe the daily, spontaneus and ‘organic’ connection of contemporary arts with the public – interest. With it’s program and capacity to spread around the place, events at Graz had reminded my other visits, like Skulptur Projekt – Münster and the global brand of Documenta, both based on Kassel Germany especially.
Then I get to chance to discuss lots of issues with my new and global pals, Louise, Kristian, Rahel, and Jelena with Dejan and Klaus, of course, I think beside visiting curators project, visiting critics’ is essential to get new links on arts and culture media to exchange our experiences. With this call, I got the chance to see such important museum, exhibitions and meeting with lots of contemporary artists.
Now I’m sure that Austria, and especially Vienna and Graz are at my top cultural destinations, more than ever.
– Evrim Altug, Turkey
Verein K’s Visiting Critics program proved a productive and generous introduction to Vienna, and Austria’s, art scene. I can’t think of another framework within which one could access so many corners of an art scene, from Kunsthalle, to museums, commercial galleries, the art fair, and, especially rewarding, project spaces and artists’ studios, which it would have been difficult to seek out for yourself.
Over a super intense ten days, Vienna was our smörgåsbord. From the meetings arranged by Verein K, I made many valuable contacts to both curators, academics and artists, several of which, I have the feeling, will be of the lasting sort, professionally as well as personally.
Finally, the Visiting Critics Vienna 2019 program was a rare opportunity to meet and exchange with other critics from different places in the world. I so much enjoyed meeting my fellow residents, and got such an immense kick out of sharing and learning together.
– Kristian Vistrup Madsen, Denmark
What does the life of a freelance art critic look like?
More often than not it is a life defined by a lack of time—and, moreover, money. When we’re not writing texts, we’re writing pitches to magazines and newspapers, travelling, teaching, and editing as a means of bolstering income. Making rent necessitates writing a lot. Your relationship with your editor is everything. Chasing late payments from publishers is commonplace. If this sounds bleak, it’s not; you choose to write about art because you love it, and because it’s a means of exploring your own life, perspective and ideas, as well as theory, through art. Balancing the rising cost of living in a metropolis with working as a freelance art critic has, no doubt, contributed to the demise of the profession and, arguably, the quality of work being produced. Is art criticism now a pastime for the privileged, for those who can afford to write?
The Visiting Critics Vienna 2019 residency organised by Verein K gave me the opportunity to explore these questions and problematics with three other freelance critics. While I travel constantly for work, as part of which I regularly meet other critics, it’s rare to have the opportunity to meaningfully discuss the nature of art criticism today, the purpose of criticism, where it fits within the arts ecology, and the professional experiences of others. Sharing such thoughts over the ten days that our lives collided was deeply enriching and empowering, even. Not only did we discuss our views on artists’ practices, but also our lives (and our treatment) as writers. This begs the question: how can we unionise as art critics? A notoriously hermetic practice, art writing can keep you (happily) alone at a desk, but sharing stories is imperative. As a group we visited artists studios, galleries, project spaces and museums, with guided tours by curators and artists, and participated in a panel discussion about art writing. Essentially, Visiting Critics Vienna is about conversation and exchange as a means of better understanding not only the role of the art critic today, but the conditions of the art critic today. It is these conditions (of time, of money) that can make it challenging to commit ten days to a residency (which covers travel, accommodation and offers a per diem, although no fee as such).
As a result of the residency, however, I was introduced to a new magazine (Camera Austria), covered the art fair Vienna Contemporary for artnet News—because I was in the city—and had the opportunity to network, creating future work as a result of this trip. All in all, I’m very happy I took part, and I would like to sincerely thank my fellow critics for their generosity.
I extend special thanks to Dejan, Jelena, and Klaus for their hard work coordinating the programme, their guidance, and most of all, their friendship.
– Louisa Elderton, UK
Verein K is an independent arts and cultural organization from Vienna, founded in January 2018. Verein K focuses on projects in the field of contemporary art and culture connecting diverse cultural and social interests: critical approaches to contemporary art, creating curatorial platforms as well as enabling innovative cultural practices including diverse social groups.