Singularity and specificity: Writing on art

Koestle-Cate, Jonathan. 2012. Singularity and specificity: Writing on art. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 5(1), pp. 107-123. ISSN 1753-5190 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

A given for art writing today is the necessity of contextualization. This assumption is put to the test when the singularity of a work of art is privileged over its specificity. If the latter infers a context-directed situation in which a cultural object, event or situation is determined by the conditions of its appearance in a particular context, and in which it is invariably subject to certain predominant, context-specific models of interpretation, the former denotes a model whereby a cultural object, event or situation creates its own conditions of reception and establishes its own interpretative frameworks. Art writing that works with a model of singularity does not deny the importance of context, but downplays its influence by privileging the agency of the work of art. This becomes problematic for art criticism when the context appears to play more of a determining role than usual. Such a situation is raised whenever contemporary art enters the church, revealing certain refusals and strategies of avoidance within the secular art press.

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Identification Number (DOI):


specificity, singularity, art writing, exhibition value, cult value, contextuality, contemporary art, churches, cathedrals, exhibitions, installation

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for English Language and Academic Writing (1996-2017)


March 2012Published

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Date Deposited:

22 Apr 2015 10:06

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:10

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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