ESSAY: kritisch-inflationär – Criteria of crisis – critique as process

By Gregor Kanitz

This essay is part of the book
Glossar inflationärer Begriffe, which accompanied the exhibition DIE IRREGULÄREN – ÖKONOMIEN DES ABWEICHENS at the NGBK – Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst e.V., Berlin from 20|04|13 to 02|06|13. Curaters and Editors of the book are Anna Bromley, Michael Fesca, Sara Hillnhütter, Eylem Sengezer and Olga von Schubert.

The current efforts concerning artistic research raise the question, which standards and measures of value can be ascribed to artistic operations and creations. A central issue in this respect is critique as purpose and practise shared both by scientists and artists. A very rough history of the political, aesthetic and material implications of the adjective “critical” may show the difficulties and hopes of critical energies and behaviours from enlightenment to nowadays’ criticality of smart mobs. Critique is a process, which is historically connected to “crisis”: A decision is reached, a distinction is made at a certain point after long debates, after sleepless nights, after a certain experiment or after a revolt or revolution. Beyond this point the criteria for criticism might have changed, the artistic standards reach scientific measures, become a nerds’ ambition or both. The essay points at a sociopolitical and aesthetic theory of these changes. But it is in German and it is written by a “Geistesgeschichte”-nerd.

Excerpt from the text:

Bis heute kann kaum jemand unbeschadet behaupten, unkritisch zu sein. Die Verpflichtung zu kritischen Haltungen ist bereits so lang inflationär, dass einige Blicke in die Geschichte Aufschluss geben können über Konstellationen kritischer Prozesse.
Es wird kritisch, sagt man, wenn eine Entscheidung ansteht. …

Essay for download;  PDF (german)