IAAC6: The Power of Arts Criticism

Wang Huan is a Beijing-based Writer, Curator and Editor of Jiazazhi Magazine. He has published a series of art reviews in LEAP Magazine, Art World Magazine, Jiazazhi Magazine, Art Shard and Ray Art Center’s Reviews. He has recently won Royal College of Art’s International Awards for Art Criticism for an article on Christian Boltanski’s Storage Memory at Power Station of Art, Shanghai. 

A: How do you think art journalism has the power to change perspectives?
WH: To some extent, “news” is indeed an extremely provocative mode of communication. It affects people’s perspectives and views on culture – especially in the context of art. Majority readerships are prone to trust whatever is depicted in the headlines. At the same time, we are living in an era full of fake news. Writing has the function of “supervision.” It is how we reach some kind of balance.

A: What is the value of critical commentary for you?
I think the value of writing is almost the same as the issue that it faces. In the contemporary art world, creation and operation centres on the “problematics.” Art writers work in the dimensions of text to re-deconstruct and face up to the works, reminding us that we cannot ignore these issues.

A: What has been your most important piece of writing to date?
It’s hard for me to answer. Each of my essays points out or echoes a particular issue, questioning a phenomenon or looking at a subject in view of the artist. Essays are written because they respond to a specific subject / problem in a specific time and context, with the writer convincing themselves and the readers of something be considered or values. 

A: What do these awards mean to you as a writer/editor?
They have been a platform for audiences to learn more about my practice. The awards mean something in terms of the resume for sure, but as far as I’m concerned, to have my practice be seen by more people is the most important aspect.

RCA’s School of Arts & Humanities launches the International Awards for Art Criticism (IAAC) 5 publication and the launch of IAAC 6 at Battersea, Gorvy Lecture Theatre, London, 30 May. For more information, click here.


Image Credit: 
Christian Boltanski: Storage Memory at Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris.