Dedicated art world critics and curators are often just as important as artists themselves. How else would the contemporary public be able to identify true visionaries from the rising sea level of social-media-savvy self-promoters? Arts criticism isn’t a new phenomenon, either. Not only was Charles Baudelaire a celebrated French poet, he coined the term "modernity" and promoted the Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix. English critic John Berger's pioneering Ways of Seeing brought an entirely new perspective to the complex field of art criticism, while Clement Greenberg helped forge the field into a bona fide profession. Today, the art critic seems much less inclined to opine from an elusive ivory tower and is more willing to get down-and-dirty by curating shows that place artists within the context of something much larger. Here are five art minds we have our eye on this year, each discussing their plans and visions for the future.
Jessica Lynne (pictured above) is co-editor of ARTS.BLACK, an online journal that focuses on art criticism from the black perspective while fostering conversations about art from the ground up. Together with Taylor Renee, Lynne has been working on the publication for a year now, and is looking forward to what the future holds. "Though I'm not one for predictions, like any critic, I'm paying attention to a few exciting artists. In particular, there is a great group of photographers that I've been following closely: Andre D.Wagner and Naima Green, based in New York City; Nakeya Brown, based in Washington D.C; Ari Mejorado, based in San Antonio, Texas; François-Xavier Gbré, based in Abidjan; and Nomusa Makhubu, based in Capetown. Each of these photographers approach the craft from distinct technical and personal perspectives—from studio portraiture to documentary photography. Through their work, they are holding important dialogues about the world in which we live. As someone who belongs to the same generation as many of these artists, I'm energized to know that in our own ways, we are using the arts to respond to the reality of our many lived experiences. It negates the oft expressed sentiment that this generation is full of apathy. "
Angelina Dreem is founder of Powrplnt, a Brooklyn gallery space that seeks to provide free courses on digital art production to youths, as well as classes for adults that are funded by donations. The site also acts as a community and discussion forum for anyone interested in the interstices between the urban space and digital realm. Appropriately, Dreem says she is looking more into VR worlds as a medium through which to showcase creativity. "I feel a zeitgeist of compassion coming along," she adds. "The Indigo children coming of age like Princess Nokia, Willow Smith, and Miley Cyrus are leading the way that caring is cool, that all actions should reflect your values and that being proud of who you are is what's relevant. I think we will see less of the artist as brand and more of the artist as part of something bigger: community organizing and next-level social practice. I think anonymity will become more popular, movements away from Facebook promotion and more about 'deeper' web networks that are not about promoting to large platforms, but communicating intimately with likeminded individuals. People on the next level will be harder to reach, artists will take back their data and protect their ideas. More women of color in tech and visions that are beyond our current cultural and technical limitations!"
Yael Lipschutz recently co-curated Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and was the curator behind the groundbreaking show Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman at MOCA. She's determined to help shed light on the lesser-known, but no less significant forces in the art world, and her current enterprise is no exception. "The Singularity, an idea I first read about in VICE magazine ten years ago, relates to something I am installing with my dad and brother in Eagle Mountain, a California ghost town that my dad grew up in," she says. "I’m also working with Corazon del Sol on a series of transient projects in the desert and with Henry Taylor on a space he is opening in downtown Los Angeles. Breastfeeding, being a mother, broad investigations into color and sound, these are ideas on my mind. That and searching for older artists that got passed over in their own time, that is something that always interests me... I think there are two zeitgeists; one defined by what is selling (a vacuous brand of abstraction), the other by interesting pockets of political media-based art. The latter strikes me as the future."
Shana Nys Dambrot
A contributor to The Creators Project, Shana Nys Dambrot has interviewed Marina Abramovic, David Lynch, Viggo Mortensen, Beck, Moby, and Shepard Fairey, just to name a few. She's continuing to work on the gallery exhibition committee at the non-profit venue, Art Share LA, and is co-curating a show with artist Susan Melly in September. This year also has her exhibiting photography at a gallery show, and publishing an essay about David LaChapelle's as-yet-unseen new project. Like many of her contemporaries, Dambrot forecasts a rise of cross-platform collaboration, particularly by artist collectives. "I see architects, dancers, painters, musicians, sculptors, photographers, video artists, fashion designers, digital and code artists, curators, writers, chefs, performers—all working between and among each other in the most exciting ways," she says. "I think people crave interactive presence in a world of digital remoteness or isolation, but I also think using the internet as a facilitator of intercontinental and interdisciplinary approaches makes sense."
Dambrot continues: "I think people in the audience and marketplace as well as artists and makers are attracted to upcycled/recycled/non-traditional materials like cardboard, knitting, ceramics, and obsolete tools or technologies, again in a kind of Arte Povera-style analog-backlash model which can be either deliberate or intuitive, but which is very much related to the use of one’s actual hands as a means of production of actual objects. Tangentially, I see the embrace and acceptance of the self-taught artist and the DIY, independent, or artist-run art fair model as related to an increasingly inclusive, curious-minded understanding of how art can function in modern society."
All these art minds, who just so happen to be female, have a relatively positive outlook on the future of the art world, one that does not appear to be shared by Jerry Saltz, senior art critic and columnist for New York Magazine. When asked about his own forecast on the art world, salty Saltz was economical with his words, giving us no more than a tweet that told us he believes the future of artists is status quo: "I predict that except for the 1% of 1% of 1% of male artists who get rich, artists will continue to have to struggle. All good."
What art minds are you thinking about this year? Let us know @CreatorsProject or in the comments below.