to Toby Behan, on his review of Violent Baby – realtime composition music and dance by Kristian Larsen, Julia Milsom, Rory Dalley, Chris Reddington and Emma Johnston at The Pallet Pavillion, Christchurch 2 Feb 2013

“What is this person doing reviewing?”

I suspect my meaning is this:

Please leave yourself behind next time you go and see a show.

To come away having seen a piece of work with only your personal opinion is a double failure.

The work has not been good enough to produce anything new in you.

You have not been good enough to produce anything new in your review of it, in your writing.

It is the second failure, which is yours, that you play out in public as a critic:

On the one hand, you have a bad show and bad art, because making art is the artist’s job; on the other, you have a reviewer who is not up to the job, which is writing.

The horrible part is that the failure of the review to live up to its responsibility as a piece of writing and go beyond personal opinion affects the reception of the art whether the work is good or bad.

For the critic to say he or she is merely giving a personal opinion is an abrogation of responsibility and an abuse both of the privilege afforded by the public role of critic and of the art work the critic is meant to serve.

– review here