In the past half-decade, we’ve seen art publishing revivified, both better attended to and better contested. Art criticism is increasingly animated through smaller, not-for-profit, and ad-hoc publications (which are, themselves, increasingly based online, and therefore better able to launch and circulate), and playing host to a number of pressing conversations regarding a renewed ethics in art. However, despite the recent swell in independently-published criticism, the field at large has never been so precarious for those working within it. In a pandemic year, most major art publishers are freezing their freelance budgets; and the same editors who are seeking historically undervalued writers and perspectives often take liberty with these authors’ bylines, do damage to unique and vulnerable voices, or gate-keep to the exclusion of important positions. How do we more transparently chart the opportunities and revitalized potential in the field of art writing, as we work to better identify the risks?
Starting in 2019, Momus began hosting twice-annual Momus Emerging Critics Residencies in its effort to attend to both the heightened stakes, increasing potential, and renewed challenges for art criticism—and to do so outside of a traditional MFA program, through intensive bursts of economically accessible mentorship and professional council. These residencies last two concentrated weeks, and lead to ongoing conversations and collaborations that span seasons and years, both among the residents and their mentors.
Momus is hosting two residencies in 2021. The first is taking place August 9-20th. We will begin receiving applications in early June; please check back here for more information.
Each residency is led by a deep network of esteemed critics, publishers, curators, and educators, providing guidance and support for emerging critics, editors, audio producers, and publishers. These residencies prioritize Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, both on the leadership and participant levels. Our 2020 editions were led by majority non-white critics, educators, and editors, and this will be the case for every edition going forward.
In these rooms (which have recently been reoriented to digital presentation, by necessity), we speak to the lived realities of our experiences working in this field, trading knowledge, establishing trust, and pause over both the personal and the professional tracks that carry us through art criticism and publishing. In holding these intimate residencies one at a time, twice a year, we are working to strengthen and galvanize the next generation of art writers, editors, and audio contributors while helping address the industry’s severe lack of representation. Conversations around industry access, entry, etiquette, and survival flow through more ideological conversations around self-representation, voice, and biography.
The residencies include workshops on pitching, freelance endurance tactics; discussions around self-marketing and cultural translation; tools for budgeting and time management; illuminating the distinctions of online and print publishing; and strategies for establishing trust and taking risks with your editors. The residency also attends to the sometimes complicated or self-sacrificing objectives of ‘professionalization’.
The tremendous success of this program has confirmed that there is real demand for access, encouragement, and advice within art publishing—a notoriously opaque and exclusionary industry. We have been further encouraged that the online format we had to adapt to has in fact provided a real boost to this program’s accessibility. The residency program’s focus is increasingly to encourage a multiplicity of voices, and we are able to reach further and include more by hosting this in a digital space, and covered nearly every participant’s full tuition.
Our 2020 editions—held at OCAD University and Concordia University, respectively—featured such talent as Rahel Aima, Daisy Desrosiers, Osei Bonsu, Aliya Pabani, Saelan Twerdy, Tammer El-Sheikh, Mark Mann, Nora N. Khan, Tausif Noor, Andy Patton, and James Oscar, among others. The Residencies are directed by Sky Goodden, along with associate director Lauren Wetmore.
The Momus Emerging Critics Residency is an intensive residency program intended for a spectrum of participants, including current students, alumna, and working professionals arriving from any number of fields. It helps foster the next generation of art writers, editors, podcasters, and publishing producers through mentorship and practical skills development. Participants have already gone on to publish with Momus, Canadian Art, C Magazine, Artforum, BmoreArt, Texte zur Kunst, edit for C Magazine, Canadian Art, and Momus, and many more have won national writing awards and fellowships in their home countries.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts for the 2020 editions of this residency program.