The Fluid Edge: Art Criticism in a Divided Era

A conversation about writing and responsibility


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Pedagogy
  • Philosophy / Theory

Organizing Institutions

AICA-USA (International Art Critics Association United States), Slought

Contributing Institutions

The Brooklyn Rail,


Aaron Levy, Judith Stein

Opens to public





Alexandre Gallery
724 5th Ave
4th Floor
New York, NY 10019

On the web


0% Formal - 100% Informal

AICA-USA (International Art Critics Association United States), in cooperation with Slought and with the support of The Brooklyn Rail and, is pleased to announce "The Fluid Edge: Art Criticism in a Divided Era," the second in a series of conversations about writing and responsibility, on Thursday, February 16, 2017 from 5:30-7:00pm at the Alexandre Gallery, across from Trump Tower. The event will feature Gregory Sholette, Nancy Princenthal, Fran Ilich and Aaron Levy in dialogue, and is free and open to the public.

Ours is a polarized age where institutional structures and social systems are fragile and in flux. In recent years, an array of public programs have explored this new reality, arguing that the figure of the art critic and the role of art criticism is also in a general state of crisis. Among these, AICA's "The Art Critic in a Cold Climate" at Tate Britain and "The Trouble with Criticism" at ICA London (both 2011), the later proposing that this crisis is due in part to the curator having eclipsed the critic as a mediator between artists and publics. More recently, Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age (2015) addressed the current challenges facing cultural criticism and publishing and its reduction to the speed of the internet.  

Resisting the tendency to present art criticism as "in crisis" or "at risk," even in the aftermath of the election, this conversation series instead builds upon remarks by Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, at the AICA-USA awards presentations in 2015. Finkelpearl proposed that we re-conceptualize the role of the critic and institution, such that cultural criticism can be understood as a way to build a more inclusive society and give back to communities. Simultaneously writer and organizer, this newly expansive conception positions the critic beyond institutional compliance, towards a closer alignment with a politics of engagement. 

Building upon these insights, this conversation proposes a dynamic and fluid set of relationships wherein the art critic is empowered to navigate the political, the digital, and the social. Join us for this conversation and help us negotiate this fluid edge.

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Gregory Sholette is a New York-based artist, writer, and activist with Gulf Labor Coalition.  His publications include Delirium & Resistance: Art Activism & the Crisis of Capitalism (2007), and Dark Matter: Art and Politics in an Age of Enterprise Culture (2010). He is an Associate Professor in the Queens College Art Department, CUNY, where he helped establish the new MFA Concentration SPQ (Social Practice Queens).

Nancy Princenthal is a Brooklyn-based writer whose book Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art (2015) received the 2016 PEN America award for biography. A former Senior Editor of Art in America, she has also contributed to Artforum, Parkett, the Village Voice, and The New York Times. Princenthal is the author of Hannah Wilke (2010), and a co-author of two recent books on women artists. She is currently on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts.

Fran Ilich is a media artist, art writer and the author of several novels as well as the book-length essay "Otra Narrativa es Posible." He was a fellow at Eyebeam and A Blade of Grass, and created commissions for the New School's Vera List Center for Art and Politics and No Longer Empty. He also shown at the Walker Art Center, Creative Time's "Living as Form," Open Engagement and Bronx Museum, among others.

Aaron Levy is Senior Lecturer in History of Art and English at the University of Pennsylvania, and Executive Director and Senior Curator of Slought Foundation. Levy co-organized the US representation at the Venice Biennale for Architecture (2008) and is on the board of AICA-USA.

"We are perhaps more 'critically predisposed', much bolder and intransigent in our criticism than our ancestors managed to be in their daily lives, but our critique, so to speak, is 'toothless', unable to affect the agenda set for our 'life-political' choices.

The unprecedented freedom which our society offers its members has arrived, as Leo Strauss warned a long while ago, together with unprecedented impotence."

-- Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (2000)