Igor Dobricic

Choreografe Keren Levi in dialoog met Igor Dobricic over de stand van de danskritiek. Wat moet een 21e eeuwse criticus in zijn/haar mars hebben om fatsoenlijk inhoudelijk te kunnen oordelen over dans, volgens de maker?

Op deze website publiceren we de dialoog in delen die choreografe Keren Levi en dramaturg Igor Dobricic voeren over de hedendaagse danskritiek. Als opmaat naar een live dansdialoog begin 2016 waarin we op een middag makers en critici samenbrengen en gaan zoeken naar waar zij elkaar wel en niet kunnen vinden in een hedendaagse danskritiek. Als eerste schreef Keren. Igor reageert hieronder.

Dramaturg and teacher Igor Dobricic replies to the letter of choreographer Keren Levi. 

Dance Dialogue – Reply

Auteur: Igor Dobricic
Gericht aan: Keren Levi

For all purposes art criticism is to be considered as a literally genre in it’s own right, with its histories  and traditions to which we should be able to refer to, even if we choose to brake them   or ignore them (one can only ignore things of which one is aware of).

Hey dear,

In principle I am in agreement on all the points that you have raised. However, although I personally consider those points almost as a matter of a “common sense” we should not assume that  what is implied by them will be perceived as obvious inside a public sphere into which this conversation is going to land. Actually, i believe that part of the problem concerning the status of art criticism is exactly in a fact that certain aspects, conditions for it are taken for granted.

In order to avoid confusion and misunderstanding, I feel it is important that we take few steps back and once again, explicitly clarify, emphasize and affirm basic premises without which subject of our conversation will stay unclear.

Once again (I will never get tired of repeating), such a clarification about “what are we exactly talking about when we talk about art criticism?” is more than a preliminary to a polemic, it is actually central to it. In other words, what is at stake prior to any (dis)agreement concerning a role, a function or a politics of art criticism, is its own basic condition.

So, before getting further into the conversation, I would like to articulate elements (and immediate consequences) of a hypothetical definition, a short list of reminders that we should keep in mind so to avoid loosing the sense of scope and specificity in a way we address and/or argue about the subject.

For all purposes art criticism is to be considered as a literally genre in it’s own right, with its histories  and traditions to which we should be able to refer to, even if we choose to brake them   or ignore them (one can only ignore things of which one is aware of).

Defined as such art criticism should keep searching for the ways to utilize and unfold its own traditions under the contemporary conditions of artistic practice, production and distribution – affirm (or actively question) its own history while maintaining  its presentness and critical, emancipatory orientation.

Role of an art critique should be clearly distinguished from a role of newspaper reviewer on one side and a role of a public intellectual as it is defined in a tradition of critical theory, on the other side of the spectrum.  Once this double distinction is established, position of an art critique can be specified as the hybrid one, existing inside a volatile literary space in between the journalism and the art/cultural theory.

Public responsibility of an art critique is framed by this double position of offering, in one and the same gesture an informative, vivid journalistic reference to a specific “work of the day” while articulating a coherent critical position through which such a reference is extended toward a broader aesthetic evaluation and social contextualization of the work in question.

Journalistic aspect/responsibility of an art criticism is a priory delimited by the conditions of the medium (newspapers,  magazines, etc…) inside of which it is habitually appearing.

Consequently, it is a coherent critical position which require additional attention and affirmation beyond the given journalistic frame.

In order to encourage and cultivate coherent critical position in the field of art criticism we need to explicitly express and affirm basic set of criteria which can helps us distinguish such a position from the journalism proper.

Only when these criteria are formulated, explicitly expressed and agreed upon, we will be able to put forward an argument concerning the most optimal practical conditions for the revival of the art criticism as a literary genre.

I can already anticipate two basic objections to this list of mine. First one is a terminological objection to the deliberate use of a generic concept of ” art criticism” in a place of more specific, differentiated ones – dance criticism or theatre criticism.  Second objection proceeds from the first one  and it concerns my emphasis on a general definition of art criticism grounded in a particular history.

Although I am aware that proposed generalization coupled with an “old fashioned” normative ambition to affirm its identity and agree on a definition will probably generate some irritation among the informed readers, my very basic response to it ( on which I ll be happy to elaborate if needed)  is that, in my opinion, getting busy with details of a phenomena without daring to grasp it comprehensively beforehand, can only perpetuate a fruitless confusion and cultivate ignorance under the guise of (dis)agreement.

It is this confusion and ignorance that I would like to avoid by any means so that, even if our dialogue does not generate any change, we can at least claim that we have honestly put an effort to create a small conceptual clearing from which further expeditions into a subject of art criticism can be made in the future.