Aug 24, 2011

Welcome to NEXT | AFTER | THIS

Dean Sameshima, Bacchanalia
silkscreen on canvas, 2010

Boasting a blogging team of over 100 that changes out twice yearly, NEXT | AFTER | THIS is an experimental contemporary art blog dedicated to viewing and reviewing the art of the 21st century.

NEXT | AFTER | THIS was given its name by a filmmaker friend of mine, Jayson Oaks, and I think it adequately describes the kinds of temporal shifts demanded of a viewer of contemporary art. The name implies a forward movement. Perhaps it's a cycle - next after this next after this next - or perhaps it's a call to stop and consider what's before you, this thing, this installation, this painting. Either way, it sets the terms for a blog that is not only about assessing the character and timbre of contemporary artistic practice, but also serves a pedagogical purpose.

I created this blog to be a significant portion of students' experience in a class I teach every semester entitled Issues in Contemporary Art. I have struggled each semester since Fall of 2007 with how best to teach this course. At first I taught it like a pretty standard Art Since 1960 class, patterned after a similar course I took as an undergraduate. Since those first semesters I've been moving ever-gradually towards focusing primarily on art created within the last decade. This is truly frightening territory in an academic landscape that tends to move at the general clip of rusted tanker. Curriculum is cobbled together, necessarily incomplete and always tentative. And so I've made a class whose structure is flexible (a big deal for my meticulous, orderly Virgo mind) and which is much more about public engagement (this blog) than standard university practice would usually dictate. Don't worry: my students still write papers, and I still grade them.

So much has changed since I was an undergraduate, not the least of which is the growing esteem of art blogs; sites like Artnet, C-MonsterArtfagcity, and Modern Art Notes cater to different readers by producing fresh and readable content. Far from replacing newspaper arts coverage (I still love me some Roberta Smith), these blogs expand and deepen the reach of art critics, art historians and artists. By blogging, contributors of NEXT | AFTER | THIS will be entering into the esteemed ranks of already-established art bloggers, and will continue to hone their critical viewing/writing chops.

Here's where you come in, sweet and gentle reader. Comment. And comment hard. Challenge the assumptions that underlie the contributor's worldview, without succumbing to that terrible habit of "burning". Push them to be better thinkers and writers, giving praise when you think they've done the job well.

NEXT | AFTER | THIS will be updated every weekday during the course of the semester (roughly September through December, and January through May), so there will always be new things to see and read.

-Andy Campbell