Specialism

David Blamey (Ed.)

It is widely assumed that everyone is ‘interdisciplinary’ nowadays, that we all work at the intersections of conventional disciplines. But if being flexible, multi-skilled and polymathic are the prerequisites of survival in today’s world, why do educators and art marketeers still find it imperative to maintain conditions of production that advocate specialist outcomes? The aim of this new anthology in the Occasional Table series is to critically reflect upon the role of specialism in art and society and to understand better how the claim of those who seek to transcend the parameters of specialisation contrasts to that of others who maintain that deep levels of achievement can only be attained within highly focused methods and forms.

Contributors
David Blamey
Matthew Cornford
Neil Cummings
Dan Fox
Anouchka Grose
Mingyuan Hu
Stephen Knott
Frances Loeffler
Nina Power
Rick Poynor
Alistair Rider
Andrew Robinson
Irit Rogoff & Ruth Sonderegger
Chris Watson & Jon Wozencroft
Ian Whittlesea

ISBN 978-0-949004-01-7
London: Open Editions, 2016

Funded by
Royal College of Art
University of Brighton
RMIT University

"Should the artist aspire to be the Universal Man or Woman of the Italian Renaissance, or bow to the division of labor like those painters of the Dutch Golden age who specialised in cows, or peeled lemons, or crafty swindlers picking pockets? But then if everyone is an artist, as Joseph Beuys liked to say, then isn’t it an impudent usurpation to lay particular claim to the label ‘artist' at all? No definitive answers are in the cards, but the clash of opinions is lively in this eye-opening set of essays and conversations by a broad range of art makers, writers, academics and other interested parties. By the time you’ve read all of them you may find yourself both more expert and more of a generalist, which is why I recommend reading this book with one of my favorite records playing softly in the background—the 2005 comeback album by the great Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab, Specialist in All Styles".
Barry Schwabsky