Re: serious work

Mark Coniglio (
Mon, 8 Sep 1997 10:33:21 -0500

So there has been a lot of discussion regarding Richard's post. My
response, like Johannes', is that I have no interest in asking anyone to
hold back in their opinions, even if they are difficult to handle.

I have seen, on some other lists, when some people have become obnoxious
for the purpose of being so. I think that we can agree that this is not the
case here. If it were I think we would have something to discuss regarding
censorship of an individual.

Richard was left feeling angry by the piece, and that came across in his
message. Stephan K. asked if the purpose of this group is "to rip into
people's work in front of an audience of readers many of whom have not seen
the same work?" I have re-read Richard's message carefully today, trying to
see what it was that caused such a reaction. The bulk of his message
focussed on the over-hyping (hyper-hype?) of the concert and its
relationship to the internet. He in fact said at the end it was a "good
modern dance concert", so it did not seem to be the dancing that he was
criticizing at all.

Now I did not see Sarah's piece so I cannot comment on it in any way. I
will say that I have seen art/tech concerts that have been big on hype and
short on substance. I am always angry when I walk out the door, for many of
the same reasons that Richard cites in his message including the fact that
such works discredit the entire field of endeavor. What is most
disheartening for me is when I hear about a concert that purports, in its
press, to be "revolutionary" in any area. To say so in advance is almost
certainly a lie.

That being said, I don't know if Sarah herself said anything like this.
Take a look at her web pages. In her press release she claims "The concert
will be the first in Cleveland history to be performed for both live and
online audiences". Probably true. But, she herself uses the word non-liner
in the first page when she says that she will "explore information in a
nonlinear context" (Nik, Stephan) So Richard's critique of her failure to
explore this area may not be so much "artspeak" as addressing something
that Sarah herself claims she will do. However, she also says in her press
release that she will not be showing "mock Internet pages and hyperlinks"
as a backdrop to her dances, not the real thing which Richard sites as

Most importantly, on one page she describes the purpose of the concert. "To
integrate new media technology and the performing arts so as to provide a
high quality, entertaining and accessible contemporary dance concert for
both live and online audiences." Here we encounter the word here that
Stephan talks about at some length: accessible, a word that Stephan uses, I
think, to counter Richard's use of the word "serious". Perhaps these two
words are antonyms in people's minds, though I don't personally think so
because being serious is up to the creator (see Imma's post). Stephan
defends accesibility in his message, because that's what he likes both to
make and to see. Richard wants serious work because he likes the subject
matter more challanging to discern. You say po-TAY-toe, I say po-TAH-to...
WHATEVER! The most important thing is that none of us should hestitate to
give our own heavily slanted reports about what is good and bad in the work
we see and make because it is the passionate opinions that bring me here in
the first place.

Finally, I have always believed that a most critiques and reviews,
Richard's included, don't tell you a lot about what was wrong with the
piece, but instead defines what the person giving the critque likes to see
in a work -- you just can't take them personally because you are not that
person. (Note that Richard did not mention the crowd's reaction to the
piece. Were they "entertained", which was one of Sarah's goals?) Richard
was angry because there were many things he hoped to see in Sarah's piece
that were not there, so he let us know. As far as I am concerned, that's
the way it should be.


Mark Coniglio, Artistic Co-Director |
Troika Ranch |