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Singularity and specificity: Writing on art

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A given for art writing today is the necessity of contextualization. This assumption is put to the test when the singularity of a work of art is privileged over its specificity. If the latter infers a context-directed situation in which a cultural object, event or situation is determined by the conditions of its appearance in a particular context, and in which it is invariably subject to certain predominant, context-specific models of interpretation, the former denotes a model whereby a cultural object, event or situation creates its own conditions of reception and establishes its own interpretative frameworks. Art writing that works with a model of singularity does not deny the importance of context, but downplays its influence by privileging the agency of the work of art. This becomes problematic for art criticism when the context appears to play more of a determining role than usual. Such a situation is raised whenever contemporary art enters the church, revealing certain refusals and strategies of avoidance within the secular art press.

Keywords: art writing; cathedrals; churches; contemporary art; contextuality; cult value; exhibition value; exhibitions; installation; singularity; specificity

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Goldsmiths, University of London

Publication date: March 28, 2012

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  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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