on arts commentary, binary thinking, complexity and using teeth (with guest jane howard)

School For Birds

Not all artists differentiate ‘arts commentary’ from ‘reviews’. I didn’t either until I started writing both (one passionately and one with the deep reluctance of someone too poor to pay for tickets). For many artists, arts writing is a necessary evil; an aspect of our world that we only think about when it comes time to collate reviews but, beyond the need for promotion or validation, it is vitally important.

Although the line between reviews and arts commentary is blurred, I separate them this way: a review is an aspect of arts writing which usually has a fast turn around, an often tiny word limit and, most crucially, they demand of the writer that they reach a decision about the quality of the work. Arts commentary is more complex and multifaceted. The form is fluid, taking in many different types of critical response. The word limits and turn around are…

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