“What is “art speech” and how does it function and change across contexts, as art practice, interpretive gesture, vehicle of critique or connoisseurial, canonical voice? Is the spoken word just a lesser afterimage of text or is art speech always more compelling in person? Part of the annual Contemporary Art Forum at MoMA, Art Speech, co-organized by director of public programs Pablo Helguera and art historian James Elkins, attempted to wrestle with these questions. Unsurprisingly, for a forum that aimed to deconstruct the very format it took as its modus operandi, hot air was in plentiful supply over the course of the two day symposium. The moderators sometimes struggled to distill questions and elicit audience response, but maybe that was the point: art speech nimbly defies definition and is difficult to facilitate en masse. That Helguera and Elkins offered a forum for these questions was the important part.”

Read the full essay here.