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Cultivating Competition – A Response

Matt offers his own thoughts on the Artblog+ The St. Claire Art Writing Challenge in response to Hammam's essay. – Artblog Editor


If you haven’t done so you should read Hammam’s essay, Cultivating Competition: A Small Note on the Art Writing Challenge. After reading Hammam’s essay, I wanted to pull out a few points and add a few comments of my own.

Another dimension of competition

I agree with a lot of what is stated about competition. Competition is an invasive tool in capitalist oppressionism. But there is another dimension of competition that I feel should also be considered within the scope of this essay. That is, cooperative competition–e.g., sports or children’s games. I could outline the benefits of cooperative competition or you could just read this Huffington post article about child care.

The limits of skepticism

Skepticism is a crucial part of developing meaningful production within an art community. That is why I am incredibly thankful for Hammam’s consistent and thorough criticality within this essay and others. But I think it vital that skepticism and action be forged as the two sides of the same coin. Without positive efforts, without action (all of which are compromised on some level) we risk a self-induced catatonic state where nothing happens and nothing changes. A state that more than anything else enables and perpetuates the dominant forces of civic oppression.

Faithful criticism

An important task of art criticism is to keep its subject matter (art in Philadelphia) as its focus. How do we figure out what this work is trying to do and report it to our audiences? To best serve this mission we need to be open to different styles and techniques of engaging and reporting. We need to open the door for strategies that acknowledge and celebrate the different types of thinking, learning, and understanding that readers possess. For me, the best way for art criticism to stay faithful to the art activities of Philadelphia is to create room and visibility for a spectrum of responses that are as varied as the city’s artistic output. I feel this was the ultimate goal of the New Art Writing Challenge: to motivate through cooperative competition a more accurate picture of the city’s already existing art writing community.