Hot Gossip: Brooklyn and The Review Panel are Apparently an Item
A fabled critics’ forum makes its debut at the storied Brooklyn Public Library
“Did you really call Roberta Smith a Dalek last night?” painter Kyle Staver, who was in the audience for the first night of The Review Panel at Brooklyn Public Library, asked moderator David Cohen on Facebook Wednesday morning. She was referring to the formidable New York Times critic and thus doubting her memory. It was standing room only in the 220-seat Dweck Cultural Center on February 9, and by the end of the presentation the crowd was still animate with ideas as debate spilled out into a frigid Eastern Parkway.
What occasioned the strange pop cultural remark had nothing to do with the Doctor Who robots’ infamous “Exterminate, Exterminate” – although that might be some people’s misconception of the role of art criticism. What occasioned the remark instead was the on-stage seating arrangement. At the library artcritical ditched the “Politburo-style” set up, as Cohen called it, with speakers lined up behind a table, the format familiar in the panel’s first decade at the National Academy, Instead, speakers were given snazzy swiveling office chairs that made it easier to sweep around and watch the videos for the shows under review – Glenn Ligon at Luhring Augustine Bushwick, Charles Harlan at Pioneer Works in Redhook, and Katherine Bradford and Elisabeth Kley at CANADA on the Lower East Side. The seating was good for chemistry, that brew of consensus and dissent that is The Review Panel. Cohen’s other guests were novelist and nonfiction writer Siri Hustvedt and artist Alexi Worth. But as the evening wore on, the Times co-chief critic progressively rolled into a private corner, occasioning Cohen’s irreverent remark.
Judgements defied expectations, according to another Brooklyn artist, Brenda Zlamany, who attended a welcoming party in honor of artcritical at the Gallery at 1GAP over the street from the library. She had fully expected a love-in for studio neighbor Bradford, an artist with almost cult status in the Williamsburg scene, and was more worried for old college friend Ligon, who in his exhibition was venturing into split screen video for the first time. But there was equivocation from some towards Bradford’s largest canvases to date whereas speakers fell over each other in praise of Ligon’s subtle, novel take of a Richard Pryor performance. And there were as many remarks about Pryor as Ligon from a much exercised audience during the half-time open mic. The podcast, due soon, will reveal all.
Up next in the series, March 8, are renowned art historian Svetlana Alpers joined, in their series debuts, by painter-critics Laurie Fendrich and longtime Brooklyn resident David Salle. They will be tackling Amy Sillman, Karen Kilimnik, Cameron Rowland and Mika Tajimo (for show titles and venue details, see the flyer below). The best way to ensure a seat in what will be an extra-crowded event during Armory week is to use the library’s ticketing service: brownpapertickets