Being Better by Being Honest

Finally people are starting to speak about the heretofore unspeakable: Islanders can produce cultural crap with the best of them.

Read RIFF: Rather Intolerable Films Festival from Rob and Crap-ola from Cynthia to see the early leaves on this tree.

Until such point as there is a vibrant and active artistic criticism movement on Prince Edward Island (i.e. one that is more than a cheering section which treats all artistic production on the Island as an amazing miracle simply for existing), we are doing a disservice to our artists. And, ultimately, a disservice to ourselves, because we’ll just keep getting served more of the same.

I think the important break that has to happen here is the ability, at least on some level, to separate art from self. Which is not to say that art and self aren’t inextricably linked. But there is a difference between saying “your art stinks” and “you stink,” however difficult that may be to imagine if you are the “you” in question.


Al O\'Neill's picture
Al O\'Neill on November 16, 2003 - 18:59 Permalink

BRAVO for bringing this up. It’s about time.

I really hate to hop on the blogging-will-save-us-all bandwagon, but I think that the rise of self-publishing is where this will have to take place. Newspapers and the CBC have at least some interest in promoting the island and thus tend to shy away from criticism. So it will take someone with less to lose to point out the state of the emperror’s wardrobe.

Alan's picture
Alan on November 16, 2003 - 19:23 Permalink

Well said, Peter. Perhaps then critical or at least more honest art might arise as well.

Nils Ling's picture
Nils Ling on November 16, 2003 - 19:33 Permalink

I agree with Rob and Cyn, too — and damn, they have guts. Because as members of an arts community that is as small and interconnected as the one on the Island, they run the risk of offending people they’re liable to be working with next week. That, of course, is one of the main reasons there is very little real criticism here on the Island — a deeply ingrained aversion to the discomfort that comes from saying “Waldo’s film sucked donkeys” … then running into Waldo on the street the next day.

Ken's picture
Ken on November 17, 2003 - 03:18 Permalink

The body of film work from RIFF is two years old, and as primitive/crappy/amature as it is, it does not include anything from Peter Rukavina — who I challenge to produce better. Translate your impertinence into 5 minutes of video! Honestly, what is holding you back?

Ken's picture
Ken on November 17, 2003 - 03:43 Permalink

Is it fear of the critics!

Alan's picture
Alan on November 17, 2003 - 03:59 Permalink

Ken, if you do not like a meal in a restaurant, I take it you do not open another restaurant — you tell people how bad the meal was.

Ken's picture
Ken on November 17, 2003 - 04:12 Permalink

The thing is I would really like to see a film by Peter, I am sure it would not be boring because he would not allow himself to do it badly — or he wouldn’t do it at all.

At least come up with a top list of script ideas!

And it’s not like a restaurant; I do make better meals now when I want to cook. RIFF will be pot-luck, and at a famine no less (save Empire’s slice of cake).

John Boylan's picture
John Boylan on November 17, 2003 - 04:53 Permalink

Interesting points raised by Peter, Rob and Cynthia, and ones I suspect long pondered within the Island’s artistic community.

I think Northrop Frye said something to the effect that criticism is in itself an art form. Presumably it can be practised poorly or well like any other. I wonder which comes first, great artists or great critics?

Cyn's picture
Cyn on November 17, 2003 - 06:31 Permalink

Ken, Ken, Ken. Only about 80% of it was primitive/crappy/amateur.

Ken's picture
Ken on November 18, 2003 - 00:22 Permalink

I love primitive!

Cyn's picture
Cyn on November 18, 2003 - 04:49 Permalink

I love fish.