M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online #1

We are happy to be able to inaugurate M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online at ArtKrush. We feel a great kinship with ArtKrush as a new and democratic site for communication of art ideas and we welcome the new possibilities of online dialogue. From time to time, M/E/A/N/I/N/G will edit forums by artists, poets, and art historians on issues of interest to practicing artists.

A little background on M/E/A/N/I/N/G is in order. Susan Bee and Mira Schor founded and coedited M/E/A/N/I/N/G, a journal of contemporary art issues, in 1986 and published between 1986 and 1996. We are both painters. Bee had extensive experience in the design, editing, and publication of small press journals and books as well as degrees in art history and art, Schor's teaching practice and early training as an art historian had led her, in the early 1980s to begin writing about contemporary art. We felt the need for a discursive space for viewpoints and critical approaches that were not being published. We were committed to creating a zone of critical discussion that was independent of academic or commercial art interests. In addition, M/E/A/N/I/N/G combined critical engagement with the variety and intimacy of artists' voices. We wanted to provide a space for artists to write about issues of importance to them and for art historians and critics to be able to write about art not favored by the glossies. And we provided a space for writing that is individual even idiosyncratic. The mix was accessible, personal, and sometimes volatile.

We ceased publication in 1996, partly because the public funding climate that had sustained our independent stance was becoming more difficult and partly because we needed the time that we had devoted to M/E/A/N/I/N/G for our own artistic projects. However, we continued to work on occasional editorial projects, including "Ripple Effects: Painting and Language" in New Observations, #113, 1996. M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artists' Writings, Theory, and Criticism was published by Duke University Press in 2000.

We are glad to be able to continue our editorial project at ArtKrush because the conditions of critical art writing that made us feel the need to found M/E/A/N/I/N/G in 1986 are just as pressing today. The major mainstream art magazine continue to curtail the complexity of their critical writing and to key their editorial content almost exclusively to what is shown in major international art centers. As much as in 1986, what passes for art writing often is only a veiled press release. In any case, many artists appear to be more interested in fashion world celebrity than in intellectual or historical context. Sadly, in recent years, the art world has lost several alternative discursive spaces, with the closing or suspension of publication of Art Issues, Dialogue, and the New Art Examiner among others.

As we begin this new editorial project, we are interested in learning more about what kinds of conversations about art and culture can take place now. It is slowly becoming apparent that the art world may be undergoing some of the same adjustments to market excess as the business world at large. Scrutiny of Martha Stewart and Enron is paralleled by scrutiny of Thomas Krens and the directors of the major auction houses. In our culture money talks, but mostly about itself. It also can stifle free speech about art and ideas. In this new atmosphere of market correction, efforts at intimate, intellectual, diverse, flexible communication about art may be more possible, welcome, and necessary to the growth of fresh art practice.

Susan Bee and Mira Schor

July 2005


Susan Bee and Mira Schor


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