A new chapter

The Editors

View from Cayetano Ferrer’s workspace in Las Vegas, January 2023. Image courtesy of the artist.

January 6, 2023

The new year is the herald of fresh starts, and all but the most bleary-eyed of you will have noticed that this editorial is published under the new banner of “e-flux Criticism.” For those who haven’t seen the announcement: e-flux Criticism comprises the same team of editors and writers operating under the same principles that shaped art-agenda. The main differences are that we’ll be increasing the volume of our editorial output—with more space for literary, film, and other criticism to complement our established program of art reviews, features, and interviews—and that all this will be hosted on e-flux.com. Our writers’ work will still be delivered directly to your inbox, for free. Tell your friends.

The change responds positively to a number of issues that have preoccupied the editors for some time, and which have recently become more acute. The most urgent is the sense that the space for independent criticism is shrinking. It should be acknowledged that writers have been broadcasting this jeremiad ever since art-agenda started publishing reviews in 2010, and that new platforms for sharing ideas have sprung up in the interim. But we remain convinced that the service we provide—namely considered appraisals by informed writers of the work being presented to the public as meaningful, valuable, or representative of their experience—remains useful to the wider culture as much as to the industry. A significant increase in our readership over recent years suggests that there are good grounds for this conviction, and the expansion of our activities reflects our commitment to keeping that critical space open.

We are also conscious that the borders separating contemporary art from its neighboring fields are less clear than they used to be. Whether this is always a good thing is a debate for another time, but the fact is that it makes little sense to silo the art being presented in galleries and museums from the other forms of cultural production by which it is so deeply influenced and which it so often resembles in form and content. The incorporation of “criticism” into our title expresses a broadening of scope from the focus on “art” of art-agenda to include those points at which it meets with other creative activities and the various infrastructures that support them. With time, this will be reflected in our coverage.

Indeed, the addition of “e-flux” to our name not only brings us into line with our sister publications and platforms—including e-flux Journal, e-flux Notes, e-flux Architecture, and e-flux Film and Video—but recognises that each are interconnected and signals the desire that they should cross-pollinate. Simply put, the aim is to make this the home of reviews on e-flux, whatever their subject. This is part of a broader project to better integrate the manifold activities of e-flux that will be elaborated later in the coming year.

All this being said, new years are memorable as much for what remains the same as for what changes. Reform, as anyone who has made their own new year’s resolution will know, takes time. We hope to keep all that was good about art-agenda’s editorial content (the name will persist in our announcement service, now called e-flux Agenda), and to build on the foundations laid by the many great writers who have contributed over the past thirteen years. The archive of almost 1,500 features and reviews published under the aegis of art-agenda will remain freely accessible and easily searchable to anyone with an interest in the ideas and works that have shaped contemporary art over that period. So, as with the new name of every new year, e-flux Criticism signals not a wiping clean of the slate but the kind of renewal that facilitates growth. We hope the start of 2023 brings you something of the same.

Each month, to accompany the editors’ letter, we publish a photograph from an artist’s place of work. This month we feature Cayetano Ferrer, whose interdisciplinary practice explores ideas of the remnant, the fragmentary, and the hybrid through the recombination of materials and forms.

Editorial, Art Criticism
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January 6, 2023

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