Following are a selection of writings that adopt an art-critical position, on occasion via a fictive narrator.
‘Read It’ buttons link to PDFs of the publication in question.
An early encounter with the artist Vik Muniz, by way of Borges.
...Upon reaching the fairgrounds, I worked my way through the bustling crowd to see the attractions on display in the road-weary, red-and-white striped tents....Each attraction carried its own admission price, and since I had but little money left to complete my trip, I decided to choose carefully which one to see.
At the end of the row of these tents, my interest was piqued by a rather small banner proclaiming "Muniz the Magnificent"--Magician and Hypnotist Extraordinaire." Having always been interested in magic, I was irresistibly drawn to see its quotidian practice in this minor venue...
Written to accompany an exhibition of mammoth-sized, unique gelatin silver prints by Sam Sebren, I insert myself into a road trip suggested by the pictures. Channeling Kerouac this time.
...In Norfolk, we scored enough to set ourselves up in a Hampton Inn, a room overlooking the water. Or at least what you could see of the water, through all the Navy warships. You kicked back in the bed, while I soaked in the tub, leaving a dark ring just under the skim of bubbles I made with the hotel mini-shampoo. Made my mark there, I did. We ordered room service and it was great and we left a huge mess with cigarette butts crushed in the half-eaten eggs and everything seemed so easy, at least for that day and a half...
This one is a real essay (not fiction), a labor of love, contextualizing the exquisite images of Wes Bell.
What is striking about Wes Bell’s art photography is the power with which he redeems the most humble objects – long-forgotten signage, disused steps, even plastic carrier bags – to see them anew, transformed by the action of light and chemistry on paper into formidable, substantial phenomena. They become allegories of suppressed feeling, released by the framing edge of his medium format Hasselblad to gain an unexpected gravitas, to become an experience of resonant beauty rendered through the gradations of black and white within the firm compositional boundaries of his resolute, square format compositions.
Holt Quentel: From E to 3 and Back Again
An early publication, which appeared in the waning days of the late, great Arts Magazine. (Vol. 64, No. 4, December 1989)
There are, of course, a number of questions, contradictions, conundrums, and doubts which arise when artistic production derives so much of its substance from such external sources. This article is an attempt to outline some of these difficulties by placing the relationship between (post-structuralist) theory and art making in its context. The trouble with much of the critical literature in this area is that the writer, obviously enamored of both art and theory (generally from an academic viewpoint), becomes so wrapped up in the jouissance of the mental gymnastics required as to forget the earthy reality and implications of the cultural work at hand….let us begin to question, and to feel, the curses and blessings of the place in which we find ourselves, and to envision the future course that may arise from the accumulated wisdom and experience of our artists and thinkers.