The Proper Name

After authoring an exhibition essay for a gallery, I was recommended to take on a job as the art critic for some godawful internet magazine in Toronto. During my introductory meeting with the editor, I was casually informed that the content of my articles would be essentially irrelevant; they just needed to take up a set amount of space and include pictures. Having worked as a journalist for several years already, this made perfect sense to me and I proceeded on this basis. On a semi-weekly basis I would spend an afternoon attending shows and then fill up space. Sometimes I wrote these things, sometimes I merely parodied the write-ups at the galleries or menu items from nearby restaurants. Sometimes I didn't write them at all. Sometimes I wrote them in a different language and then google translated them. Sometimes the shows I reviewed didn't actually happen. The articles were often deliberately misinformed, mixing up genders of those involved, linking to the wrong places in the body of the articles. None of that mattered: it was all edited and frequently re-written by other people without the slightest consultation of yours truly. This even included re-tooling things so they sounded like jokes. Sarcasm and snark are obligatory forms on the internet, much like anonymity, but the virtual world has a much harder time with satire, which was what I was doing, though by the hate mail I tended to receive, no one had a clue, or, if they did, they didn't care. This performance more or less fulfilled what Lydia Lunch once said would be the requirement of real comedy: to never offer the punchline or allow the laugh. Unlike my other experiment in art criticism, which used satire within the rhetoric of the texts as an epistemic lever, this simply used space under the graffito of a supposedly proper name and fetishized title.