PUBLIC TALK: 25 April at 6 pm at the National Gallery of Art (free entry)

DISCUSSION AND MINGLING: 26 April at 6pm at the CAC Reading Room (free entry, please register by emailing [email protected] so we know how many coffee cups and cakes to bring; everyone who engages with questions of writing and the dissemination of texts about art and culture in any capacity is welcome)

Recent years have seen a crisis in the role of art criticism. No one seems any longer sure what purpose it serves, to whom it speaks, through which media it is disseminated, and who is responsible for its production. The decline of print publishing has been accompanied by a comparable crisis in the role of the critic: the Enlightenment critic, speaking with authority from an objective position, is dead; the postmodern critic, always implicated in the systems they are critiquing, seems ill-equipped to address the issues of this generation. What does it mean to write art criticism in dark times? 

This talk and discussion consider the role of the critic within the art ecosystem and as a mediator with the public. It will argue, as John Berger wrote, that ‘the problem of criticism is the problem of connection,’ insisting on the importance of art criticism as a means of connecting the appreciation of art to what is happening in the world today and, by extension, making it relevant to publics who feel alienated from the cultural discourse. 

BEN EASTHAM is the editor-in-chief of e-flux Criticism and co-founder of The White Review. His second book, The Imaginary Museum (TLS Books, 2020), is a fictional exploration of the way art shapes our experience of the world. He is the editor of books on artists Fabio Mauri (Hauser & Wirth, 2019) and Luis Camnitzer (Sternberg/e-flux, 2021), and his criticism has been widely published.