Early on I was given these words of wisdom by my friend, the late theater critic Arthur Friedman: “Criticism should not read as if it had been written by a publicist.
Given the flood of publications on early modern natural history over the last two decades, the detailed and strikingly illustrated Picturing the Book of Nature represents a herculean undertaking.
I have read the Harvard Business School study about critics and it is clueless on so many levels about the craft and mechanics of reviewing that it is astonishing that major newspapers and magazines have taken it seriously.
Simon Garfield’s tour of fonts, Just My Type, is a rollicking, sometimes snarky social history of the design decisions behind lettering from Gutenberg to the iPad.
Dramatist and director Wesley Savick faces a number of fascinating but formidable theatrical challenges, and the generally compelling Yesterday Happened (how could it not be, given its story?) takes an honorable, visually striking swipe at the problems.
Over the past 6 weeks William Kentridge has shown the form of the lecture itself to be obsolete. But over the course of his returns to the podium, he has shown us that the lecture’s fate is not so dire as he had induced us —- for seventy minutes at a stretch -— to believe.
Mistranslation weaves through this lecture, for every translation is a mistranslation. But that is what makes them fruitful. As soon as we mis-hear or fail to understand, the brain constructs an instant bit of narrative to bridge the gap in understanding.
William Kentridge spoke of the value of using a mirror to re-learn what he already knew how to do; the clear implication was that we are daily surrounded by mirror-images that we do not see for themselves but that hold the potential to alter our relationships to our tools and to our visions.
The decisions William Kentridge makes in his minute to-ings and fro-ings are akin to the decisions a poet makes as she works her measure over and over again.
For William Kentridge history accrues, falls dead, is born, washes up, piles up, and may be artfully arranged, but the most powerful place that this accretion might happen is in the artist’s studio, which is a metonym for the human mind.