you tolerate me! you really, nearly tolerate me!
I know, I said I was done posting about BY REQUEST...but the review is in, so how could I shut up?
I've been practicing wincing and recoiling all week as I knew Jessica was preparing a lengthy piece for BY REQUEST. I mean, I've gotten beaten up by her before—for shows that I was trying to make seem respectable. BY REQUEST, by contrast, is designed to be tacky, outlandish, and kind of unlovable. How could that possibly work out in my favor? I felt doomed.
Well, color me surprised: Jessica turned in a thoughtful, more or less balanced piece of criticism. Sure, there are barbs and jabs, but why would I expect different?
Jessica's main issues: The show is insider-y, possibly incomprehensible to those not in the know.
Well, I'd like to think that the pieces in the show work regardless of whether or not you have all of the relationships straight—that these artists delivered the goods despite my meddling, and that the frame of the show simply adds another layer—but I'll accept that this can be a barrier to entry for some folks.
Also: She concludes that the show is art-historically insignificant, likely to not even be a footnote.
Okay, I realize that the WaPo Style section is where all issues re: the canon are traditionally sorted out—right there between Cul de Sac and Carolyn Hax—but, aside from that: Hey, Jessica, we both live in Washington, DC. I didn't know art history even happened here!
So, yeah, I'm pretty happy with the piece. No, it ain't a rave, nor is it necessarily favorable overall. But it takes the show seriously, and takes the time to unpack it all a bit. Jessica Dawson, I owe you a thank-you note.
Read the review here.
Pictured: Kerry Skarbakka, Forced Rapture, 2010, digital chromogenic print 25 x 87.5 inches, Courtesy Irvine Contemporary