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Preview: Ben Street on Bad Language

By Stephanie Cardon

October 10, 2012   

For our first issue of the revamped Big Red & Shiny, Ben Street, curator, art writer, lecturer and co-creator of the Sluice Art Fair, London, has been ruminating on the semantically slippery state, and often absurd content, of art writing. Several recent articles have revived the perennial mocking of pompous art-speak, nonsensical press releases and florid artist statements. Ben himself took on the topic of institutionalized language last year, when he was blogging for Art 21.

Last September 24th, GalleristNY purportedly found the "best sentence in any press release ever" written for Jeff Koons' exhibition at Almine Rech in Brussels. Not wanting to steal their punchline, you can read the gallery's claims about his work for yourself, here.

In 2011, Frieze Foundation published an entertaining episode in their podcast on the subject of 'globe-ish' which, as a francophone, I can attest is alive and thriving in my homeland, within and beyond the art-world. Ce type, c'est un winner ou un loser?

Cartoon by Emily Flake
The New Yorker, October 2012
Triple Canopy, the online art journal dedicated to slowing down the Internet, brought a creative contribution to the table when sociologist Alix Rule and artist David Levine sourced all of e-Flux to deconstruct what they have now notoriously dubbed International Art English, IAE for short, and examined the possible reasons for its birth and current rampant usage.

Ben Street is the first contributor to a column we editors privately and jokingly refer to as Fernwerds. These 'foreign' words — more accurately, words from overseas or across borders — have just as much a place here as they do in London, where they were written, given that the art world is irretrievably global. Where do we go from here, he asks.

Read his full article in Big Red & Shiny vol.2 issue #1, come October 15th.




About Author

Stephanie Cardon is a cross-disciplinary artist from France and the United States and is the former executive editor at Big Red & Shiny. She works as a Visiting Lecturer at Massachusetts College of Art & Design and is a 2013 recipient of the Art Writing Workshop from the AICA-USA and Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program.

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