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Critical Endeavour, as a program to bring together and provide a platform for exchange for critical arts writers, is conceptually an excellent idea. However while we all had a great three weeks in Vienna, and as a team of people gelled well, frustrations within the group about the format of the project emerged early on in the program.

 

From the first day there was a sense of uncertainty surrounding the project; despite the fact that material had been exchanged in the weeks leading up to the workshop there was still little clarity as to what Critical Endeavour was and it would have been helpful at the very beginning to have received a solid structure and outline of the work we were going to be doing and the aims of the project. For me, the main problem perhaps seemed to be the fact that the mentors were also not terribly well clued into the structure and their communication seemed to be lacking, indeed on more than one occasion we witnessed exchanges between Franz Anton and the mentors which indicated that they knew little more than us. While some excellent sessions were had, it didn't seem like the project as a whole flowed, more that five different experts were each delivering their own separate programs. Given that each mentor only had a couple of days with us, there was consequently a stop-start feeling which was somewhat off putting and perhaps indicates why it was not possible to see or feel a certain conclusion or common thread at the end of the project.

 

There was then the issue of the expectations of us, the participants. One of the great things about the project is that we all come from such different backgrounds, however it was evident from our differing reactions to the exercises proposed by the mentors that we all had very different expectations as to what we wanted to get from the three weeks. It is hard to know exactly what could be done differently but I think it would help if there was a greater focus on output and feedback throughout the program. We all really appreciated Angela's session were we were made to sit down and produce a piece and were then offered feedback, both from our fellow classmates and from Angela. The problem often was that we were posed questions that we never really answered, or we gave answers that we received no feedback on.

 

While it was really great to be able to choose the performances we wanted to see, it would have definitely helped discussions had we all seen perhaps four or five performances together. I hope Critical Endeavour, as an innovative project that taps into a small and unsupported field of work, continues and I do feel that with better curatorship and a stronger structure it could certainly flourish. 

Latifa Akay

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