Magazine article Art Monthly

More on PhDs

Magazine article Art Monthly

More on PhDs

Article excerpt

I regret to inform the Reader that Peter Suchin's diagnosis of Elizabeth Price is correct. She is indeed sadly unable to distinguish between the absurd and violent bureaucratic fantasies that she enacts as an artist, and the institutional contexts in which she exists more generally. The art world: its commercial and public aspects; the related areas of academia (Reader, yes, I must advise you that Price is a part-time lecturer of two days a week) and even this magazine itself, have come to synthesise in her eyes, in some dreadful, overwhelming way.

In the light of this condition, I am venturing to write on her behalf--and indeed I have reviewed the correspondence, which seems to have exacerbated it--in the hope of some beneficial resolution.

I must say that, even as someone with a professional interest in the matter, this debate seems rather arcane, and I found it difficult not to drift off. However, with perseverance I have deduced that Price's central argument is that Suchin upholds the naturalised authority of the Institution of the PhD, and merely questions art's legitimate admission to it. Her objection is that this devalues the status of art generally, and further disempowers artists, who are already frequently exploited in academia. Suchin thinks this is irrelevant because he deplores the present state of art in academia, and thinks artists should evacuate it. Price retorts that this apparently radical proposition is undermined by Suchin's conservative endorsements of academic authority and convention in all other respects.

And so we go round ... the arguments convene in the recognition of a problem, but depart about its causes and effects, about respective complicities, and ultimately regarding how to act in relation to it: to dispute, or to depart?

It might be better for Price's state of mind if she were to depart, although her delusions of oppressive, presiding power are not limited to academia, so I anticipate it would only bring temporary relief. (She has already given up working in the area of Research, but with little remission so far.) I suspect that even a job of work in art criticism might not enable her to fully extract herself. Moreover, I have noted the splenetic crescendo that compromised the conclusion of Suchin's last letter, and feel obliged to observe that he isn't doing so well from his vantage point. …

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