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Re: conflict of interest

From: CAP
Date: 02 Nov 2010
Time: 06:16:00 -0600


Okay while I’m hanging on huge renders here I’ll just go back to a couple of points to the Saltz/Storr complaint: Yes - it is a regrettable oversight on Storr’s part that he does declare his pride and pleasure in the efforts of a favourite student. But let’s look again at Saltz’s complaint – “The four questions I would ask are: 1. Why would Frieze ask this person to review this show? 2. Why would Frieze publish this without mentioning the writer’s special long-term relationship with the curator? 3. If Frieze was unaware of these facts, why? 4. How did this come to pass?” – AND ESPECIALLY (my emphasis) – “I’m sure all critics have done some of these things. I am sure that I have written on former students. I’m not sure, however, that all of these unstated overlaps have appeared at the same time in the same review about such a high-profile biennial in such a high-profile magazine by such a high-profile critic/curator/art-school dean/former curator of a ‘Site Santa Fe Biennial’...”- So what is it Saltz is actually objecting to? Height would seem to be an issue for Jerry. Is it that these ‘overlaps’ of undeclared interest occur simultaneously, and at a prestigious level? Presumably, they are then excusable singly and on a more low-key basis, on a level where Saltz admits his own loyalties may also have been in conflict at some point. But since Saltz is a ‘high-profile’ critic writing for various NY journals, an anxious promoter of his own free-ranging views on Facebook and You Tube, where exactly is it that this line in the prestige is to be drawn? Is it OK for critics, but not curators and art school deans to commit these lapses? What happens when the person wears more than one of these hats? How many hats does Jerry wear? How did he come by them all? And what, in Storr’s writing, traduces or misleads in the interests of private favour? Where has Storr indulged Lewis in his text? Where in Storr’s piece, do his comparisons or descriptions fail or ring false? Saltz has no patience for a close reading – it is enough that Storr expresses a personal opinion as a veteran curator, and that this must be qualified by declaring a long-standing friendship. There can be no other conclusion to be drawn from the judgement – all the prose is mere flourish. This actually speaks volumes for Saltz’s own critical faculties. The choices, the rationale, the reference are ultimately arbitrary – it all comes down to status and favour. Sound familiar? Let’s not go there. Think of it as the tired advice ‘Trust the teller, not the tale” taken to absurd lengths. Saltz is hardly alone in this, it’s something I’ve encountered a lot on American blogging sites – an eagerness to dismiss criticism unless issued from a respected authority. Blogger’s tags, for instance, are reason enough for many to ignore what has been posted, on the grounds of unqualified standing or undetected agendas. And conversely, reason enough for bloggers to insist upon them. Why this reluctance - if not dread - of actually reading what’s written, of thinking for themselves? Why suppose some hidden agenda before even identifying what it’s ostensibly hidden under? Why the hankering for endorsement, the familiar and reassuring brand? Is New York full of morons and slaves? Let’s not go there. Notice also that Saltz is acutely aware of Storr’s history and career and anxious to know if Frieze is equally informed. After all, a 'lofty' journal like Frieze must surely be as zealous about concealed interests, hidden agendas? But, much as I hate to fall in step with Miss Higgie, Storr is not obliged to disclose topic or preferences for his column there. They probably didn’t know. And Santa Fe is… you know… half way to Mexico, from here. Will Kermit Saltz ever curate a show as high and mighty as Site Santa Clause? I doubt it, and he’s shrewdly making sure he has every reason not to. Still, he’ll always have Facebook, and his many, many ‘friends’, or are they just followers?