Thursday May 17, 2007

Alfredo Triff has posted his opening remarks regarding Art Basel from the panel discussion at Snitzer last Thursday. This is an edited version. The “Blogs are dead!” comment, which elicited such a gasp from the audience (oh, was that just me?), has been softened to “The local blog sphere, so effervescent three years ago, is now dead.” Seriously though, Triff rocks: “Artists can co-sponsor public events, alternative shows, public lectures and alternative art presentations. Art needs to go back to the street. Let’s give the market a different kind of spectacle by turning the spectacle on its head!” Listen to the panel at MAeX. Then, for those who were there (or listened to it), any particular impressions?? Let’s get into it . . .

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  1. Hypocritical BS    Fri May 18, 03:27 AM #  

    Why doesn’t the Sun Post publish an influential “We’re going to do this and this from now on regarding local art criticism”??? Instead, they have a creaky old guy write what is basically a “panel-on-paper” telling the youth to get off their asses and worse still, telling local bloggers that they’re times have passed, and oh, they’re dead. The Sun Post and Triff should realize that no one reads their antiquated website (easily one of the worst on the East Coast, big papers or tiny), outside of Broward and Dade.

    Tons more people are aware of Critical Miami nationally and internationally than the Sun Post. So you have this guy writing an obit for local bloggers like Alesh who have far more reach than his paper. And his viva revolution! commentary? It will be impossible to find in a week because the Sun Post (pioneering masterminds that they are) don’t have permanent links or tags or a good search engine or respectable archiving. Everyone, let’s go meet Triff at the Card Catalogue with our graffiti cans and anti-authoritative art ideas and follow him into the light, so the Sun Post can write about the break through and no one locally will be able to find and read the reporting in five or six days. Except for the despicable writing that locals make time for after work on their blogs. Except they were all cast dead by Miami’s Jesus of art criticism. What’s worse, Miami’s lack of blogs or Miami’s newspapers publishing expired blow hard rants circa 2000 like Triff’s against digital media?

  2. AT    Fri May 18, 09:15 AM #  

    First, I agree with you about my looks. But you’re generalizing a bit too much. I’m not telling you or anybody else what to do. I’m just suggesting an overall strategy against the stratification of the scene by very powerful and obvious market forces. I’ve supported the local blogsphere (since early maexchange in 2001 I believe). In fact I’m far from pitting the values of the written media vs. the digital media. Yet, if you follow closely, there’s been a change in participation and enthusiasm in the local blogsphere. Why?

  3. knowless    Fri May 18, 11:35 AM #  

    Having heard and read the speech/article, I find it idealistic and somewhat relevant.
    The instruction part of it all is what is most disturbing, you know, pointing fingers and preaching. It’s just not necessary.

    If anything. lets speak of what really matters:
    Basel and the expansion of the art market in Miami is bringing together populations that were generally autonomous of each other. Though what I’m about to do may seem ludicrous (a Triffism, if you will), if we compare ourselves to Parisian salons of the 18th century and the social integration that occured then and there through art or the interest in it, a comparable integration may also give way to something, at least in part, more meaningful here in Miami. But this is not an overnight phenomenon, it occurs gradually within the scope of making art and talking about it, talking about exhibits that are up, big and small, not just the flashy ones that Triff attends.

    Locally, museums have their work cut out for them, MOCA half-heartedly has made the optic-nerve thing happen for the past 5 or 6 years, connecting that way with some local unknowns but for the most part boosts ONLY the Snitzerites and New World graduates. In regards to MAM, most of what they do is hire local artists to be their information desk attendants. Maybe with Rene Morales there now, some sort of local liason will exist between what they collect, exhibit, and work with in regards to the homegrown art community.

    This community I speak of needs to be inclusive of all the art forms, all the forms that convey an idea, a feeling. Revolutions are SO 40-50-60 years ago! we need to enlighten ourselves as a culture; something that takes time, because if some sort of collective and fake enlightenment occurs the result will be no more than another despotic backlash of insuffient care. the growth won’t exist, the appearance of having done something will remain for a second and then be gone.



    and I don’t care what ANYBODY says, like the ART world of Miami, blogs are ALIVE! everyone, especially music lovers, look at this one.

  4. AT    Fri May 18, 12:13 PM #  


    “Pointing fingers and preaching. It’s just not necessary.”

    As generally as it’s presented, my view above cannot be construed as “finger pointing” (unless one holds an acute case of hypersensitivity, or what the post-Romantics called “neurasthenia”).

    “...talking about exhibits that are up, big and small, not just the flashy ones that Triff attends.”

    Unless you’re substantial with my shadow, I don’t think you could have that sort of information. But if you can recommend one I haven’t been to, by all means, let me know. It’s plain false that I go only to flashy shows.

    “Revolutions are SO 40-50-60 years ago!”

    I don’t have the zeal to consider myself a revolutionary, but think for a minute, religious, political and scientific revolutions happen all the time -as unavoidable social phenomena. We just try to repress and hide the fact “out of fear.”

  5. AT    Fri May 18, 12:16 PM #  

    Thanks, for “Triffism.” Though sparsely, I will start using it.

  6. Geico    Fri May 18, 01:12 PM #  

    Miami Blogosphere: So Dead Even a Caveman Can Do It!

  7. knowless    Fri May 18, 02:04 PM #  

    Triff: quite deliberately, i am not anyone’s shadow. and i know you are a busy man and cannot be everywhere and insightful of everything but i read what you write; what you cover has to do at best with the “scene” more than the actual art, and if not, with some already established thought, almost only pointing out what you know as a reference and not as a new interpretation of it.
    about the objects themselves or the artists even, you too fall into the description of them more than critical sense consistently. AND you do the follow-up thing, where instead of finding something you don’t already have exposure to or a new theoretical view to point out or make, you’ll write about something you, or somebody else (near or far), has written about before! to me it’s a bit too regurgitated.
    see triff’s new times articles, of which i’ve read most, and see for yourself. (this is my frame of reference for what Triff writes, i know it’s limited but this is what i’m refering to!)
    Triff, i’m not sure what you care about but it doesn’t seem to fully be about *A*rt criticism. it’s more about an artistic lifestyle. check out the triff site and again see for yourself…it’s a lifestyle, a topic of conversation. period.

  8. no matter    Fri May 18, 02:14 PM #  

    i think triff had miami art blogs in particular in mind…and not blogs in general…

    artblog moved away

    rotund world is now all puerto rico

    thenextfewhours went commatose…(it seems to be coming back, but—who knows?—it can relapse)

    criticalmiami has broad interests and it seems to get better response when it sticks to non-art topics (alesh can point out if i m wrong abt this)

    wormhole is like a personal bulletin board…helpful when u want to know where to go, but not many exchanges there

    same with dig, although some nice things pop up there on ocassion

    tumiami is in spanish and very broad in its interests

    miami art exchange seems active, but unable to get enough traffic (or maybe participation)...(jide can shed light one what goes on over there)

  9. AT    Fri May 18, 02:36 PM #  

    Sorry, Knowless, but when it comes to judging my own personal accomplishments I cannot walk with you (I will not judge myself). But wait a minute, are you bringing up by own personal site (as musician) as proof of your point? Totally out of place! I choose not to mix my music career with my art critic profile (I keep them separate!). Now, explain what do you mean with this platitude:

    AND you do the follow-up thing, where instead of finding something you don’t already have exposure to or a new theoretical view to point out or make, you’ll write about something you, or somebody else (near or far), has written about before! to me it’s a bit too regurgitated. by “write about something you, or somebody else (near or far), has written about before! to me it’s a bit too regurgitated.”

    If I don’t have your acute sense, then help me: What is it that I don’t see that you (so confidently) see?

  10. berries    Fri May 18, 02:48 PM #  

    no matter is right!

  11. Mauricio    Fri May 18, 03:00 PM #  

    Yes, very common in small cities. No real art critics. Just diarists at best. Friends review friends; girlfriends do it for boyfriends and the like, very little distance. The same with many local curators, a press release is an “art essay”. But, quoting Basualdo? The East Coast’s resident Marxist? ...and taking art to the street? What? Are we entertaining the people now?

  12. AT    Fri May 18, 03:28 PM #  

    Mauricio: How about no matter’s suggestion? I like your site Manola (those reguetoneras from Hialeah rock!).

  13. Franklin    Fri May 18, 04:08 PM #  

    One of the luxuries of being a writer is that lip service is indistinguishable from real work.

    Individual suggestions in Triff’s essay may have value, but he’s hardly the one to make them. He says, “Critics need to move out of the mode of paraphrasing shows (with the same run-of-the-mill metaphoric appliqués they use every week) and stimulate more confrontation.” I was arguing to that effect, against his contrary opinion, three years ago. He says, “Only a small number of collectors support and encourage our local scene. The rest exhibit a mix of provincialism (of looking elsewhere for legitimization) mixed with a bit of self-importance.” But when faced with live examples thereof, he throws softballs. He says, “Bloggers need to be more inventive, participants need to get involved, develop a thicker skin for debate and stimulate other points of view.” But he himself has no interest in debate; he can’t back up his assertions to save his life, and he regards serious challenges to his thinking as an attack on discussion itself. He says “we need more ‘value’ and fewer ‘descriptions,’” but probably no local writer has a more rudderless mechanism for assigning value; he can’t even use the term without scare quotes. It goes on and on like that.

    “Art needs to go back to the street. Let’s give the market a different kind of spectacle by turning the spectacle on its head!” This is just crazy talk, an attempt to beef up alt-culture credentials. A real countercultural exhibition would refuse to let collectors or critics into the building. Alfredo would be forced to write about it by interviewing its witnesses.

    So, yes, Miami’s art scene has a bunch of problems. They are not altogether different than the ones that artists experience in other cities, and can be summed up as one: it is impossible for most artists to create a viable practical situation that will let them pursue their work as anything more than an elaborate hobby. This is the real estate, criticism, exhibition, and collection problems stated in terms of their common variable. Moreover, it seems that the ones who do are able to do so only by commercialism and the caprices of fate. This is still a separate problem than the problem of making good work, which artists are not solving in near enough numbers, and the ones who are are more likely than not to suffer from the practical problem. The overarching majority of the market consists of selling objects with the trappings of sophistication to collectors with the trappings of sophistication. Making good work will necessarily put you outside the workings of that majority. I understand the impulse to want to make the situation better for the art world, but it’s basically fucked until there is once again widespread acceptance that the primary function of art is visual delectation. That would at least put it on par with music and film, which generally haven’t had the very things that make them good beaten out of them.

    By the way, if the blogs are dead, I want someone to prove to me that the SunPost is alive.

  14. A.T.    Fri May 18, 04:54 PM #  

    F: Your combativeness betray you. I’m not comparing the Sunpost with the blogs (or digital with printed media). You assume that fallaciously just as Knowless does above. I’m just making a point similar to that of no matter above. As per your unnecessarily long and obscure tirade (as carefully prepared, as it is harmless in this case); again you come out as legendary as always in your consistent & enlightened foresight, which some of us are used to (an ability which only you seem to trumpet about yourself).

  15. Franklin    Fri May 18, 06:01 PM #  

    Your combativeness betray you.

    Your grammar betrays you.

    I’m not comparing the Sunpost with the blogs (or digital with printed media).

    Never said you were.

    You assume that fallaciously just as Knowless does above.

    Wrong. I was taking a lazy statement and running with it to point out its absurdity.

    I’m just making a point similar to that of no matter above.

    Well, you thought you were, probably. Unfortunately, you said what you said, and the point was lost.

    As per your unnecessarily long and obscure tirade…

    AT explores the issues at length using specific examples. I go on overlong, obscure tirades. Noted.

    ...again you come out as legendary as always in your consistent & enlightened foresight…

    Logic got you down? Try Sarcastic Ad Hominem Jabs today! Gets rid of the heartbreak of evidence, without scrubbing! Use only as directed.

    ...which some of us are used to (an ability which only you seem to trumpet about yourself).

    Well, this is all great fun, but I feel obliged to point out that there’s not a lot of point in pleading for “higher standards of criticism” and then resorting to these kinds of ugly personal characterizations when the discussion starts up, especially not when the blogs, supposedly, need some kind of unspecified revivification. Like Smokey the Bear says, only you can prevent flaming.

  16. knowless    Fri May 18, 06:17 PM #  

    AT you’ve got it all wrong, your personal web-site was used to make the point of your artistic lifestyle, that’s all. i’m happy that you’re a musician, it actually validates the point of not being able to be a real art critic. that was my issue.

    about your writing, well you’re superficial. you write about things that seem to have been written about the month before in artforum or art in america (maybe by coincidence?). you never review a show that is in some unknown, pirate space. you speak of the academic (miami) world having to expand and you never visit these institutions or have any remote contact with them (except, of course, UM because you work there.)

    if you are going to call yourself an art critic, for the sake of your reputation and that of the city you live in, you need to be more rounded. you have to be more aware. you are well capable of doing this: i was once in a philosophy of ethics class in which you were the professor and you had us all head over heels looking for answers. so i know that you can be resourceful and motivational, and that you ARE able to make it happen with your work of art critic. you just choose not to, which may be worse. in fact, IS the worst. because the capacity of doing something productive should not be overshadowed by the unwillingness of doing it, by negligence.

    nothing personal, i swear! i just think the effort of ALL print journalists in this town is illegitimate.

  17. knowless    Fri May 18, 06:24 PM #  

    ART print journalists, that is…all are SUPER SLACK!

  18. Onajide    Fri May 18, 06:27 PM #  

    no matter: interactive participation has not really been a strong suite of Miami Art Exchange since its beginning. Only sometimes do I get perplexed about why that is so. However, I do have many face-to-face conversations with people and, that is more than gratifying. If MAEX was not looked at locally then, my podcast wouldn’t be referenced on the several sites to which it has links. And, I wouldn’t have my MAEX voicemail inbox filled with calls from out of state.

  19. AT    Fri May 18, 07:30 PM #  

    Knowless, I begin to see through the veil. So you’ve been in my class. Now, indulge me: 1- Why is being a musician a disqualification for my work as art critic? I don’t see the logic. 2- Let’s move over your “I’m superficial” interlude (it seems you already declared that as incontestable). 3- What pirate spaces you refer to that I’ve never been to? I never visit… what institutions? (you’re playing “shadow” again?) 4- I totally agree with you that I need to be more rounded and I thank you for reminding me.

  20. cohen    Sat May 19, 07:07 PM #  

    First off all ,,, anyone can be a critic..
    its not a profession you need a degree in,,, as a matter of fact most ART/LIT institutions don’t teach how to criticize at all…. This is probably a good thing. hence Musicians can be critics.

    Triff gets singled out way to much…
    no one else in town crits either

    what does everyone wanna hear anyway,,,, the truth,,...ART is not truth….Hear in blog world is where we all should be crits….and say what we think about any work we may have experienced.

    Triff is to out in the open to criticize anything and by the way A.T. what is your methodology when criticizing,,, it seems you have some kind of philosophy background,,, but i see no philosophical methodology in your art writing…

    how do you deal with visual art work….

  21. A.T.    Sun May 20, 10:02 AM #  

    Cohen: You’re right, with curiosity, writing skills and a publishing outlet you’d have the basic ingredients. I don’t know what you mean by “art is not truth,” but I think art can, to some degree (even metaphorically), communicate truth. My methodology? Very simple: Good art should have quality and originality. The rest is just a subtle process of finding “better” shades by comparing works that fit the style and tradition (Pop art is different than Abstract Expressionism). Finally, art has many functions and is constantly evolving.

  22. Ryan    Wed May 23, 09:45 PM #  

    Mr. Triff, I hope you’re still reading! For my take on you and your criticisms, please visit the url below leading to my blog.

  23. alesh    Thu May 24, 09:23 AM #  

    “Alfredo Triff has neither the credentials nor the cachet to be making such sweeping judgments about our local scene. I mean, he’s a violinist for chrissake!”

    I’ve been criminally absent from this conversation. Ryan makes some good points, but I’m going to stick up for Alfredo Triff’s credentials and cachet. Alfredo has been writing about the Miami art scene for a long time, and he’s a very keen observer (although I recognize that playing the violin does undermine his credibility somewhat). I’m not sure that the statement “Only a small number of collectors support and encourage our local scene” necessarily needs to be backed up with hard research — the opinion of a respected journalist is relevant, and I suspect many would agree with that claim. And many would disagree; in fact, I interperted AT’s whole essay as a launching-point for discussion rather then as a deceleration of facts.

  24. Mauricio    Thu May 24, 08:00 PM #  

    You can’t be serious people! You can play 10 instruments and also golf and still be a good critic! The criticism/writing is what you need to look at, period. Is it good or bad?

  25. KH    Fri May 25, 12:26 PM #  

    Alfredo Triff’s Philosophy degree is in Aesthetics, so it is in fact highly relevant to his credentials as a critic. Among the various contemporary positions on criticism is that art criticism mediates (translates and relates) the dialog between aesthetics and art history. Another view is that art criticism similarly serves to mediate art practice and art appreciation (to use a commonly understood term).

    As a musician, Alfredo is an art practitioner, and though he claims his musical career is separate from his critical career, I would imagine that it has a greater bearing on his critical understanding than he may suspect.

    Cohen and Alfredo, though it is true that one needs no special training to be an art critic, one’s critical stance can only be strengthened by an awareness of the historical role of criticism and its relationship to both the practice and presentation of artworks. Which is also to say that some criticism is more valuable than others.

  26. Franklin    Fri May 25, 04:04 PM #  

    Some criticism is definitely more valuable than other criticism, but credentialling and study don’t correlate to value.

    Criticism is an act of taste in literary form. When criticism is valuable, it is valuable because the taste is worth heeding and the form is worth reading. That’s all there is to it. Those two aspects are hard enough work.

  27. J    Fri May 25, 07:00 PM #  

    Why are we still talking about art? Art is dead, people. Criticism is just an empty roar over the coffin, no matter how impressive it may seem. It’s not going to push or resurrect anything, or make anything more historically important. You just end up annoying people, that’s all. It’s an outsiders observation and judgement—sorry, but other than the fact that the poor artist’s ego may be hurt in the process and balloned, it means nothing. It’s a grand euro-minded illusion, twisted by the big fucker that is the “art world.” This is what we accept. It’s fucking ridiculous.

  28. cohen    Sat May 26, 03:27 PM #  

    since the concept of what art is,,, no longer exist,,, than art is dead ,,, due to a lack of concept…

  29. j-j    Sat May 26, 05:48 PM #  

    Ha Ha, art is dead!

  30. Mauricio    Sat May 26, 11:00 PM #  

    I agree Franklin. And no need for “quotes” in it.

  31. Mauricio    Tue May 29, 08:22 AM #  

    What critics (will) do?

    Latest Weekend Update in Artnet by Walter Robinson (at the end):

    “While you’re out, go see “Culinary Arts: Delicious Still Life Paintings” at Bernarducci Meisel Gallery on West 57th Street. I have a painting of some waffles in it!”
    WALTER ROBINSON is editor of Artnet Magazine.

    !Que lindo!

  32. A.T.    Tue May 29, 09:25 AM #  

    Ryan, thanks for posting my article. My claim about collectors may be broad but is not unwarranted and it’s deliberate. In the inner sanctum of some exclusive art circles in our city, the idea is that Miami is not good enough for some people. In these conversations the topic is not “how to solve Miami’s problems” but “how can Miami solve my problem” kind of talk. If you don’t believe me, ask the artists. One last point, do you know my credentials? Is being a violinist bad for my art credentials? Is doing music conflicting with coagulating concepts (as the scholastics put it, “vapours in the amygdala?”) You should express your concern about my lack of credentials at your Art Department. They’ve hired me (for seven years now) as lecturer to teach Modern & Contemporary Art History. This fall I’m teaching History of Graphic Design and perhaps I’ll put up an Aesthetic Seminar (which you may take if you so desire). Next time, aim better at your target (by the way, posting comments in your blog required too much effort).

  33. Mauricio    Wed May 30, 10:48 AM #  

    What critics (will) do?
    Letters The village Voice
    October 28 – November 3, 1998

    Puff Daddy

    Re The letter from Gary Indiana in last week’s issue:

    So I’m a failed artist, am I?
    As long as we’re telling truths here, let me add a few more! Gary Indiana is a Hollywood hack! He used to be radical but now he’s a sell-out! Everyone hates him, especially his old pals! And here’s the best one of all: when he wrote on art for the Voice, he only puffed his friends, whose work he collected! That’s why he stopped being a Voice art critic!
    And I’ve got more news for you! Your paper stinks!
    Walter Robinson, Editor
    ArtNet Magazine

  34. Ryan    Tue Jun 5, 03:58 PM #  

    A response to AT can be found at Definitely Not.

  35. Loj.    Fri Jun 8, 11:08 PM #  

    At least AT knows how to write, even though his taste is horrendous.

  36. A.T.    Sun Jun 10, 10:55 AM #  

    “...though his taste is horrendous”

    Loj: Thanks and exactly my point. Anyone can be a critic!

  37. Loj.    Tue Jun 12, 11:47 PM #  


  38. knowless    Wed Jun 13, 02:42 AM #  

    is this it?

    ‘nuf said….