long-term programme

How Critical Is the Condition of Critical Writing?

A series of public lectures to reflect on the current role and status of art criticism; in collaboration with SCCA-Ljubljana.

05.02.2015 - 29.03.2016

This year we continue with How Critical Is the Condition of Critical Writing?, a reflection on the current role and status of criticism in visual arts and culture conceived last year, with a new series of lectures.

The reflection proceeds from the awareness that art criticism is an important part of the art system that makes it possible for art to fully fulfil its social role; but because art criticism is gradually disappearing from traditional media, changing in accordance with the digitisation of the media and the democratisation of cultural production, and losing its position in the “power relations” within art field, its role and position are becoming increasingly more unclear.

This year, our point of departure is last year’s conclusion that it makes more sense to talk, not about the crisis of criticism, which manifest in criticism that has drifted significantly from its traditional format, but rather about new forms of critique.   

Lectures on changes in contemporary critical and theoretical production will be given by: Thijs Lijster, Ekaterina Degot, Maja Breznik, Izidor Barši & Kaja Kraner (ŠUM), and Antonija Letinić. We will begin with a short historical overview of art criticism, and then, by analysing various factors of the so-called crisis (of the identity) of criticism, redirect the discussion to “new spaces” for critique. We will take a look at how criticism has been transformed in accordance with technological changes from the printed to the digital, as well as in accordance with different politico-economic circumstances, the changing art production and institutional changes in the art field itself. We will try to explain how art criticism today is embedded into the art system and into the process of institutionalising art, and we will trace the position of art critics themselves. Our interest will especially focus on whether there is anything positive that the current state in the field of criticism can nevertheless bring and what is needed for these new “embodiments” or “spatialisations” of criticism to emerge.

PROGRAMME (partly in English and partly in Slovene)

THIJS LIJSTER is assistant professor of philosophy of art and culture at the University of Groningen.

First lecture: The Crisis of Criticism
Tuesday, 29 March 2016, 2.40–4.20 p.m., Faculty of Arts (room 343), Aškerčeva 2, Ljubljana

Second lecture: Towards an “Espacement” of Criticism
Wednesday, 30 March 2016, 6 p.m., Project Room, SCCA–Ljubljana, Metelkova 6, Ljubljana
Video recording (in English)


EKATERINA DEGOT is an art historian, art writer and curator, currently Artistic Director at the Academy of Arts of the World, Cologne.
When Everybody is Critical, but Nobody is a Critic
Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 6 p.m., Project Room, SCCA–Ljubljana, Metelkova 6, Ljubljana
Wednesday, 6 April 2016, 6 p.m., Studio UGM, Trg Leona Štuklja 2, Maribor
Video recording (in English)


MAJA BREZNIK is sociologist and a researcher.
Presenting the Analysis “Where Has Art Criticism Gone?”
Tuesday, 27 September 2016, 6 p.m., Project Room, SCCA–Ljubljana, Metelkova 6, Ljubljana
Analysis in Sovene with English abstract
Video recording (in Slovene)


IZIDOR BARŠI & KAJA KRANER, writers and members of the ŠUM magazine.
Discourses Accompanying Art
Thursday, 6 October 2016, 6 p.m., Project Room, SCCA–Ljubljana, Metelkova 6, Ljubljana
Video recording (in Slovene)


ANTONIJA LETINIĆ is Editor-in-chief of the Internet publication Kulturpunkt.hr.
What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Criticism?
Thursday, 13 October 2016, 6 p.m., Project Room, SCCA–Ljubljana, Metelkova 6, Ljubljana
Video recording  (in English)


FOUAD ASFOUR, art writer, editor, and linguist
Unlearning Art Writing
Wednesday, 7 December 2016, 4 pm, Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Maistrova 3, Lj
Video recording  (in English)


This programme is being prepared by: SCCA–Ljubljana/World of Art programme & the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory.
Partners: Department of Art History, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, and UGM – Maribor Art Gallery.
Supported by: City of Ljubljana – Department for Culture, ERSTE Foundation, and Goethe-Institut Ljubljana.

With the series of public lectures which will run during 2015 under the title How Critical Is the Condition of Critical Writing?, we are addressing profound changes that have taken place in art criticism. The starting point of this programme is the notion that while art criticism is a vital part of the artistic ecosystem, without which art cannot fulfil its social or cultural function in the full sense, profound changes (some talk about crisis) in art criticism today are nevertheless undeniable. Art criticism has all but disappeared from newspaper columns and the role of the art critic seems vague, robbed its (historic) relevance and overshadowed by the figure of the curator. At the same time, the Internet has allowed for the democratisation of cultural production – and so everyone who has access to it can have a voice, everyone can have a blog and everyone can be a critic.

Art criticism’s crisis of identity affects how we have come to think about its role and function. The goal of this series of public lectures is to examine and evaluate the nature of this situation in art criticism and to identify what has changed and why, what are the present tasks of art critics and what new approaches could be suggested. To be able to do this, we need to review some of the cultural, economic, social and technological factors that have contributed to the current condition. The possible questions with which we will be dealing are: What are the (historical, etc.) conditions of the so called crisis in art criticism? What was additionally triggered by the rejection of judgment in art criticism that took place at the turn of 21st century? What is the relation between institutional critique and art criticism? How shall we think art criticism in the digital era and these times of social networking? What are the broader implications of the apparent obsolescence of art criticism in the present? How is this related to the condition and status of critical thought in general? Does the fact that art criticism is decaying mean that our historical moment is “post-critical”? Or is it that art criticism today has simply extended and shifted into the hands of different players – curators, art institutions, theoreticians, artists...?


BORIS BUDEN, philospher, cultural theoretician, writer and translator, currently Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Art and Design, Bauhaus University, Weimar

Art and Critique in Curating the Past, 5 February and 6 February 2015, Ljubljana
Video recording (in English)

Accompanying programme: A conversation, organized with Krtina Publishing house, with Boris Buden upon the occasion of the Slovene translation of the Zone des Übergangs: Vom Ende des Postkommunismus
Video recording
(in Croatian)


LINA DŽUVEROVIĆ, curator and PhD candidate at Royal College of Art/Tate Modern
Text as Art and Art as Text, 25 March and 26 March 2015, Maribor and Ljubljana
Video recording (in English)


JELENA VESIĆ, curator, writer, editor and lecturer
Critique in/or Crisis, 16 June 2015, Ljubljana
Video recording (in English)


JENNIFER ALLEN, art critic and publicist for artforum.com (New York), frieze (London) and Mousse Magazine (Milan)
The Work of Art Criticism in the Digital Era, 3 September (Maribor) and 4 September 2015 (Ljubljana)


EDIT ANDRÁS, art historian, art critic, and lecturer
The Trajectory of Criticism in the Time of Post-Socialist Nationalism, 16 September (Ljubljana) and 17 September 2015 (Graz)


This programme is being part of the World of Art: School for Curators and Critics of Contemporary Art and prepared by SCCA – Ljubljana & the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory.
Partners: UGM – Maribor Art Gallery and Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz.
Supported by: City of Ljubljana – Department for Culture, ERSTE Foundation.