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Press Releases Walker Art Center and MN Artists to Present Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age in May 2015

MINNEAPOLIS, January 22 2015—The Walker Art Center is pleased to announce Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, a first-of-its-kind conference copresented by the Walker and Mn Artists. In this age of democratized media—when curation, self-promotion, and DIY criticism combine and collide online—what is the role of the professional art critic? Is virality killing or cultivating new audiences for the arts? How is the web changing the way artists tell their stories or expand their practices—or how we think about art?

The Superscript conference convenes a diverse array of writers, editors, artists, curators, and theorists to address questions around online art publishing’s present and possible futures. Hosted by the multidisciplinary Walker Art Center, the three-day conference includes keynotes, panel discussions, film premieres, a DJ set by YACHT’s Claire Evans, access to the Walker’s world-renowned galleries (including the new global survey International Pop), and more, plus ample opportunities to network with cultural critics and creators from around the globe.

Bookended by the Critical Reception on Thursday and an after-party at Le Meridién Chambers Minneapolis on Saturday, the conference features two keynotes, plus four panels made up of short talks by key thinkers in arts publishing followed by a group discussion by presenters.

Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age
May 28–30, 2015
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

The conference will be streamed live and archived on the Walker Channel.


Thursday, May 28

Critical Reception
Attendees are invited to the Walker’s Garden Terrace Room on Thursday evening, with spectacular skyline views of the city and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, to get to know some of the many writers, critics, and artists participating in Superscript.

Friday, May 29

Session 1: Credibility, Criticism, Collusion
Panelists: Ryan Schreiber (Pitchfork), Orit Gat (Rhizome, BOMB), Christopher Knight (Los Angeles Times), Isaac Fitzgerald (Buzzfeed),
Moderator: Orit Gat

What does it mean to be a “professional” arts writer when it seems everyone’s a blogger, curator, critic, promoter, or publisher? This panel will look at the tensions: editorial vs. advertorial, promotion vs. journalism. And what about negative criticism: is it, as one editor said, “fun to read, fun to write?” Or are harsh reviews corrosive, generative of a “culture of snark”?

Launch of Crowd-Sourced Criticism Competition
The Walker-organized exhibition International Pop makes bold assertions about the global emergence and migration of Pop Art from the 1950s through early 1970s. Attendees are invited to respond to it by submitting 200-word microreviews of the show to win prizes for the most incisive, humorous, or critical review. Entries will be displayed throughout the duration of the conference.

Session 2: Sustainability, Growth, and Ethics
Panelists: Veken Gueyikian (Hyperallergic), Eugenia Bell (Design Observer), Carolina Miranda (Los Angeles Times), James McAnally (Temporary Art Review)
Moderator: Susannah Schouweiler (Mn Artists)

Four speakers represent different models: for-profit and ad-based, non-profit, “anti-profit,” and legacy media. What does financial sustainability for arts journalism look like? How can partnerships help sites better monetize content and expand audience reach? What compensation exists for nonprofit and allvolunteer ventures? What are the ethical implications of using work by unpaid writers, not just for the journalists themselves but also for the “professionalism” of the field?

Film Screening
Moyra Davey: Notes on Blue
The Walker’s Bentson Commission series premieres with Moyra Davey’s new-28 minute film, Notes on Blue. This ongoing series invites six artists to respond to the inspirations, inquiry, and influence of artists in the Ruben/Bentson Collection—including, in the case of Davey and fellow commission recipient James Richards, responses to artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman. Notes on Blue is a lyrical film essay that interweaves various biographies (including those of Jarman, poet Anne Sexton, and the artist herself) to explore the subjective experience of mortality, color, and identity. Following its Superscript premiere, Notes on Blue will be presented on the Walker Channel.

Moyra Davey, a Canadian-born artist living in New York, is a writer and visual artist known for the convergence of photography and film. Davey’s art is in the collection of major institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others.

Keynote: Ben Davis
Ben Davis is an art critic living and working in New York. He is the author of the book 9.5 Theses on Art and Class (Haymarket, 2013) as well as numerous essays on contemporary art that have appeared in such publications as Art Papers, Frieze, New York, Slate.com, and the Village Voice. He is currently critic-in-residence at Montclair State University and national art critic for artnet News.

Saturday, May 30

Session 3: Connectivity and Community
Panelists: Claudia La Rocco (thePerformanceClub.org), Ayesha Siddiqi (The New Inquiry), Alexander Provan (Triple Canopy), Brian Kuan Wood (e-flux).
Moderator: Claudia La Rocco

How does a platform create a sense of community around the ideas it presents? What’s the best web infrastructure for fostering responsive arts journalism that encourages valuable, substantive conversations between writers and readers? How can the online intersect with the in-person? And what about virality? Let’s discuss the promise and pitfalls of massive reader response.

Film Screening
James Richards: Film Premiere
The second artist in the inaugural edition of the Bentson Commissioning series is London-based artist James Richards whose newest, short film will premiere. The work responds to Derek Jarman’s visual strategies and representations as points of departure. Following its Superscript premiere, the film will be presented on the Walker Channel.

James Richards, known for his provocative moving-image art, is the winner of the prestigious 2012 Jarman Prize and was nominated for the 2014 Turner Prize for his video Rosebud (2013). Through the archeology of media history and obsolete technologies, he uses collage and remixes footage from a range of sources, from home movies to TV shows, esoteric Internet videos to archival footage.

Session 4: Artists as Cultural First Responders
Panelists: James Bridle, Marisa Mazria-Katz (C_reative Time Reports_), Dan Fox (Frieze), Claire Evans (Vice’s Terraform, YACHT)
Moderator: Fionn Meade (Walker Art Center)

How does the delivery medium affect the message? This discussion centers on the interplay of platform and content, highlighting artists who embed critical cultural response into their work: media inventors who create altogether new modes of storytelling, makers who use online means to critique institutional power, artists who deploy existing media platforms in their practice to surprising creative ends.

Keynote: James Bridle
James Bridle is an artist, writer, and publisher based in London. His writing on literature, culture, and networks has appeared in magazines and newspapers including Wired, Domus, Cabinet, the Atlantic, the New Statesman, the Guardian, the Observer, and many others. His artworks have been commissioned and exhibited worldwide and on the Internet. His formulation of the New Aesthetic research project has spurred debate and creative work across multiple disciplines. In 2014, Bridle received the Graphic Design of the Year award from the Design Museum, London, and was in residence at the White Building in London and Eyebeam in New York.

Competition Results: Crowd—sourced Criticism
The results of the first-ever criticism contest are shared. Find out who delivered the best angle on the ambitious Walker exhibition International Pop.

Le Méridien Chambers Minneapolis, a short walk from the Walker in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, helps close out Superscript in grand style. The Burnet Art Gallery and the Chambers art hotel’s outdoor courtyard host music spun by DJ Claire Evans of YACHT. Attendees will enjoy hors d’ouevres and a cocktail or three at the cash bar.


Ticket price: $200
Early-bird price: $150 (Limited to first 100 tickets)
Tickets on sale January 27, 2015

Conference registration includes:
• Admission to all keynote presentations, panels, and screenings
• Admission to the welcome reception in the Walker’s Garden Terrace Room and the closing-night party at Le Méridien Chambers hotel in Minneapolis
• Admission to the Walker galleries on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, including the Walker-organized global survey International Pop and more
• One free round of Artist-Designed Mini Golf in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

For more information on the conference, including hotel discounts and travel tips, please visit the Superscript website.

Media passes
Due to limited capacity, media passes for the Superscript conference are available to a very small number of writers on assignment to cover the event. To apply for a pass, please fill out the online request form.

Organizers: Paul Schmelzer, Web Editor at the Walker Art Center, and Susannah Schouweiler, Editor-in-Chief, Mn Artists


Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age is copresented by the Walker Art Center and Mn Artists.

Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age