Sabrina Ratte – Futures 1050

Art Writing: Genevieve Quick

No.: Futures 005
TopicArt Writing

PromptDescribe a possible future for art writing. Specifically, submit an idea that addresses either the economics of art writing or new models/new media for art publishing that could change the field. This could be a new idea or a recent project that deserves attention.

Attempt: Since 2006, Creative Capital and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts have supported the Arts Writers Grant Program1, a rare program that fosters expansive forms and approaches to art writing, beyond academic art history. The program generously funds writers in five categories: books, articles, blogs, short form, and new and alternative media. Of these categories, the grant for new and alternative media is the most elusive, least awarded2, and most provocative. The Arts Writers Grant Program does not define new media, except for saying that it is distinct from websites and blogs and that the projects must, “actively engage the properties and potential of their proposed medium.”3 While awarding few grants, commendably the program hasn’t eliminated the category, thereby keeping the parameters and applications for new media on the table.

In addition to making books more accessible, Johann Gutenberg’s movable type printing press (1448) gave birth to publishing, thus feeding or initiating the disciplined study of graphic design, illustration, typography, printmaking, book arts, and writing. With the emergence of the digital interface, there are exciting possibilities for form and content to coalesce. Universities have recently introduced Intermedia programs that encourages the integration of design interface with its content. Usually housed in, or associated with, art departments, these programs typically focus student production on the visual and literary arts, rather than visual criticism or art history. As a result, most Intermedia work tends to be artworks in themselves, rather than art writing. Perhaps we need to reassess how we educate art writers, complimenting the traditional focus on language and concept with new media.

Author: Genevieve Quick, a San Francisco-based artist and art writer. Quick has been awarded residence at the de Young Museum, MacDowell, Derjassi, and Yaddo.

Futures is a new series that presents speculations about emerging models, responses to ongoing crises and a catalogue of possible futures. Responding to the etymology of “essay” as an “attempt,” this micro essay format invites diverse voices to address pressing issues in the arts.

  1. In full disclosure, I am currently participating in The Art Writing Workshop—a partnership between the Arts Writers Grant Program and the International Art Critics Association/USA Section (AICA/USA).
  2. Since 2006, the Arts Writer Grant Program has awarded four grants, three of which were awarded in the program’s first year. As a point of comparison, in 2013 the program awarded twenty grants: three for articles, three for blogs, eight for books, and seven for short form.

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