On Thurs., March 7 at 8 p.m., Culturebot is in Seattle, Washington presenting Everyone’s a Critic as part of On the Boards season (tickets $12). It’s a homecoming for Andy and I, as we both spent a fair bit of our twenties in Seattle before decamping for New York (he from ’90-’95, me from ’03-’10).
In Everyone’s a Critic, we’re exploring the intersection of the local and international contemporary performance ecologies through the work presented by On the Boards.
In the first section, a collection of Seattle artists, presenters, critics, and administrators (all of whom wear more than one of those hats) will present a series of brief lectures prompted by films from On the Boards TV, OtB’s ongoing project to create high-quality video documentation of contemporary performance work. Participants include Jose Amador, Tonya Lockyer, Brendan Kiley, Matthew Richter and others, who, through examples drawn from the films, will explore Seattle’s and On the Boards’ place in the broader contemporary performing arts world.
The second section will consist of simultaneous participatory small-group conversations organized around specific topics and developed with input from OtB audience members. Here people can respond to and dig deeper into the questions raised, before the event opens up into a social hour (read: party) for the conversations to go where they may. What are Seattle’s arts community’s strengths, and what can it learn from other artists’ practices from around the country and world? How can Seattle dance, theater, and performance grow and continue to engage with the larger contemporary performance discourse? And what’s the role of the “critic” in a changing landscape, as the old media structures that supported critics continue to decline at the same time that new and emerging artistic practices re-define the traditional boundaries of “theater,” “dance” and “visual art”?
Everyone’s a Critic is the latest iteration of our exploration of the concept of “Critical Horizontalism,” the guiding principle behind our ongoing projects that has been articulated through a series of essays by Andy Horwitz over the past year. As the old hierarchies between critic, artist, and audiences break down, we propose a new sort of critical engagement in this leveled, “horizontal” discourse. In Andy’s own words:
In this framework criticism is a creative practice unto itself and the writer exists in subjective relation to the work of the artist […] If this response is then published on the Internet, this creates a horizontal field of discourse with the work. This model resists the commodification of the performing arts as “entertainment” but rather situates it as time-based art. The performance itself is an ephemeral nexus where audience, artist and ideas converge. The critic supports the continued investigation of the art event across multiple platforms.
We sincerely hope to see as many of our friends and readers from Seattle as possible, and we encourage people to start thinking now. In fact, if there are ideas or issues you’d like us to bring to the table, feel free to write us in advance at editor(at)culturebot.org, and see you in two weeks!