v.1 is RISD’s student-led publication. Its form and content change from year to year (it’s always “volume 1”).

Info & Submission Guidelines ︎

Pandemic Publishing ︎

  1. Call for Submissions, SOS Edition
  2. 3.29.20 Irina V. Wang
  3. Let Yourself Be Lifted Jackie Scott
  4. Art Is Everything Jen Liese
  5. Two Poems Ella Rosenblatt
  6. Living Room Dance Party Ariel Wills
  7. On Walking When Walking Is Advised Against Keavy Handley-Byrne
  8. Untitled Cita Devlin
  9. Ads in Corona Hannah Oatman
  10. COVID-19 and Communitas Elaine Lopez
  11. A Time for Pie Elizabeth Burmann
  12. How to Stay Motivated When You’re Stuck at Home Clarisse Angkasa
  13. Coerced Harmony (A Tour) Hammad Abid
  14. Zooming In and Out Tongji Philip Qian
  15. [Form] Ciara Carlyle
  16. Hi.txt Dan Luo
  17. A poem about boredom, a composite Maixx Culver-Hagins
  18. Eyewitness News Tristram Lansdowne
  19. Distance Maps Marcus Peabody
  20. Therapeutic Suggestion Maria Aliberti Lubertazzi
  21. Keep Your Heart Six Feet Away From Mine (and other moments) Arielle Eisen
  22. Twenty Instructions for COVID-19 Charlott Isobel Dazan
  23. Cuerno 1 y 2 Yan Diego Estrella Wilson
  24. A Monolith of Grief Regarding the Absence of Touches, or Letter to a Future Lover García Sinclair
  25. Coronavirus by the Thousands Drew Dodge
  26. Two Poems Kathryn Li
  27. Beds Are Burning Aleks Dawson
  28. Still Lifes Yidan Wang
  29. Fragments of Seva Jagdeep Raina
  30. Packing Up and Staying Woojin Kim
  31. Chronic Pain and Fermentation Ralph Davis
  32. Quarantine Letters Hannah Moore
  33. Sounds of Silence: An Isolation Soundscape Dara Benno
  34. 14 Day Detox for Designers Erica Silver

Winter 2020

  1. From the Editors
  2. The Phantom Audience, or How to “Really Do It” Asher White
  3. Some Dry Season(ing) / 5 Tales in an Embryo Room Yuqing Liu
  4. Throwing Salt, Constructing the Homeland Ariel Wills
  5. Infinity Balloon Man Jack Zhou
  6. Texas Triptych Ali Dipp
  7. Phenomenology of Bones Chris Shen
  8. Erlking Yiqun Zhou
  9. Trouble in Reality Elena Foraker
  10. Family Stories Gina Vestuti
  11. Treasure Reilly Blum

Fall 2019
  1. From the Editors
  2. Architecture and Its Ghosts Xuan Liu
  3. Fit/O!de Jeff Katz
  4. Desde La Chinaca y La China Poblana Ariel Wills
  5. Ballast Tiger Dingsun
  6. Love Letters Brenda Rodriguez
  7. The Anxieties of Plant-sitting Carol Demick
  8. Zadie & Teju Ariel Wills
  9. Smooth Stones Ali Dipp 
  10. Kantha’s Melodies Michelle Dixon
  11. Glory West Megan Solis
  12. The 50 Best Albums of the 2010s Asher White

Spring 2019

  1. From the Editors
  2. A Room without a View: Reflections on Studio Practice from a Privileged Poor Chantal Feitosa
  3. Between the Battlements Jeremy Wolin

  4. Accessing Color: Dissecting the Harvard Art Museum’s Forbes Pigment Collection Makoto Kumasaka
  5. British Club Tattoos Nasser Alzayani
  6. Making Space: Creativity and Resilience in War-Time Sri Lanka Elizabeth Dean Hermann
  7. How to Become Trans: A Proposal for the Modern-Day Gender-Agnostic Asher White
  8. Making It Up: A Conversation with Kent Kleinman Wen Zhuang
  9. “In Peace”: A Conversation with Matthew Shenoda Mays Albaik
  10. Suburbia_hours.mov Nora Mayer
  11. Negative Spaces Emily Wright
  12. Centerfold: Urgency Lab
  13. Rise Up: The Sunrise Movement Takes Root in Rhode Island Irina V. Wang
  14. After Strand Nafis White and García Sinclair
  15. Soldiers of Love? Karen Schiff
  16. Decoding Ghosts Molly Hastings
  17. An Annotated Bibliography Eli Backer
  18. Jesus, Marilyn, and Britney: Relationships between Religion and Celebrity Culture Nina Yuchi
  19. The Social (Antique) Network: Empathy in the Age of Digital Antiquing Zola Anderson
  20. My Little Episodes Michael Brandes
  21. Seeking Fair Game on Hidden Fields Reilly Blum
  22. The Should Be Here Is Not Here Joss Liao
  23. Index of Agency Sophie Chien
  24. Don’t Eat the Models Barbara Stehle
  25. Hypothetical Drink Personality Test: Who Said What, and When? Eliza Chen
  26. Dear Arabic Mohammed Nassem

Fall 2018 

  1. From the Editors
  2. How to Make a Person: A Recipe Mays Albaik
  3. Providence Votes Marcus Peabody
  4. Encounters with the Codex: Redefining Forms of Publication June Yoon
  5. How to Encounter a Puddle Anny Li
  6. A Brief List of Premises from a Maker Stuck with Paper, Politics, and Performance Yasi Alipour
  7. Art Writing and the Place of the “I” Randy Kennedy
  8. Written in Stone: Lineage, Legacy, and Letterforms Irina V. Wang
  9. The Unbearable Whiteness of Being (a Graphic Designer) Tiger Dingsun
  10. Colliers/Necklaces Théïa Flynn
  11. When One Door Closes: Examining Issues of Space and Student Curation on Campus Wen Zhuang
  12. Addressing the Empty Plinth: Lessons from Gallery Shows and Public Art Jeremy Wolin
  13. Modern Usage: In Conversation with Remeike Forbes Eliza Chen and Tiger Dingsun
  14. Dangling Threads: Remaining Unclear in Capital Everett Epstein
  15. A Vagabond Viking Voyage and Midsummer Daydream Mike Fink
  16. Everything is Interdependent Angela Dufresne
  17. La Bolita Elaine Lopez
  18. Bread Day Olive B. Godlee
  19. Against the Archive Satpreet Kahlon

2017 - 2018 

  1. Birds, Bees, and Beyond: The Nature Lab Evolves
  2. Concrete Mixer Drum Solo
  3. Negative Spaces
  4. “Printer Prosthetics” at NYABF
  5. On Writing: Nader Tehrani and Katie Faulkner
  6. On Writing: Marie Law Adams and Dan Adams
  7. On Writing: Kunlé Adeyemi
  8. Connecting Food and Design
  9. Remixing Architectural Discourse
  10. Genesis : 1: Beret Shit
  11. “No voy a actuar en el mundo antes de entenderlo”: Una conversación con Alfredo Jaar
  12. “I Will Not Act in the World Before Understanding the World”: A Conversation with Alfredo Jaar
  13. Imagining Irmgard
  14. Afterwords: Bite
  15. Afterwords: Portals
  16. Afterwords: Calendar
  17. Seeking Drafts

Art Writing and the Place of the “I” 

Randy Kennedy 

What is the place of subjectivity in contemporary art criticism? “Since 1960: Contemporary Art and The Stakes of Criticism,” a two-day symposium hosted by the department of Theory and History of Art and Design in October, gathered professionals in the field to ponder and push this question. The event was held in honor of longtime New Yorker writer and art critic Calvin Tomkins and his recent donation of his art books to the Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport, Rhode Island. Panelists included artist Moyra Davey, New York Times co-chief art critic Roberta Smith, and Randy Kennedy, whose introduction provided insights into “the place of the self” vis-à-vis not only art writing but the art world as well, as it transforms over time. Thank you to Kennedy for allowing v.1 to share his remarks, which have been slightly edited and condensed for publication.

“Since 1960: Contemporary Art and The Stakes of Criticism,” RISD Museum, October 26, 2018; left to right: Richard Shiff, Randy Kennedy, Leora Maltz-Leca, Roberta Smith, Massimiliano Gioni. Photo: Jennifer Liese

I started writing professionally about art full-time at the age of 37, after working for The New York Times first as a copyboy, then as a clerk, then, for a decade, as a city reporter. It was a lucky accident to be in the right place, known to the right editor, to be able to raise my hand one day and say, “I really love art. I know a few things about some of it. I’d like to write about it. I don’t think I’ll embarrass you.”

Beginning one’s art education in the city in the 1990s was both momentous and absolutely bewildering, a whipsaw between what had begun in the ’80s—the rise of the market and (after its brief time-out) of painting—set against the tumultuous backdrop of AIDS and so-called identity politics and the roots of what has come to be the Right’s stranglehold on American politics. My first Whitney Biennial was the 1993 show, which seems more prescient every day. (Roberta Smith, pretty much alone among critics then, called it a watershed, though she also said its alternate title could have been the “Reading While Standing Up” biennial.) It was the first time I’d ever seen Robert Gober or Lorna Simpson or Ida Applebroog or Nan Goldin or Jimmie Durham, and I was seeing them alongside people wearing Daniel Joseph Martinez’s colorful metal buttons emblazoned with their firebrand mantra: “I Can’t Imagine Ever Wanting to be White.” I knew I had a lot to figure out.

Often, I was seeing art in the company of my brother-in-law, the artist Larry Krone, who has a piece up now in Repair and Design Futures, the astute show at the RISD Museum about the political and social power of mending. Larry was taking me to places where he showed, where his friends were, vital places I might have been too intimidated to explore on my own: Exit Art, PS 122, the Kitchen, PS1, the Gramercy Art Fair when it was still in the funky old Gramercy Park Hotel and the people showed art on toilet tanks in the bathrooms.

As a news reporter covering the city, my articles were written in a news voice, or what was back then certainly the news voice at The New York Times: the reporter as what philosophers call an “ideal observer,” present and all-seeing but dissolved individually in the solution of the writing. At the same time, I was reading art criticism and reporting that was profoundly individual in tone, in multifarious ways: Roberta and Calvin Tomkins and Holland Cotter, Jerry Saltz and Peter Schjeldahl and Michael Kimmelman and Robert Hughes. I was also hunting down older pieces by John Russell, Irving Sandler, Bill Berkson, Dore Ashton, Edwin Denby, John Ashbery, and Frank O’Hara, as well as reading Artforum, ArtNews and The New York Review of Books.

I always found myself trying to get a feel for a writer’s intensely subjective experience of his or her own time, even if the writer had worked hard to sublimate it. I’m sure the need arose because I was trying to gain a sense of my experience of my own time, while feeling constantly at sea. (There’s a great line in Joan Didion’s book South and West: “I am trying to place myself in history. I have been looking all my life for history and have yet to find it.”)

You could ask, “Does the writer’s own history and sense of it matter that much in the long run, in what we continue to go back to and read about art and art history, what “stays news,” as Ezra Pound put it? For that matter, does the artist’s own history and sense of it matter apart from the work? For me as a writer, reader, and art lover, it always has. I say this despite the fact that the foregrounded presence of the writer’s self can sometimes be as much a fiction—a bad one—as the fiction of writing that approaches art from the other side, from the model of dispassionate analysis set by the social sciences in the late 19th century, whose influence on art criticism may have reached its nadir in the 1990s. In this context, I often think of a wry observation by Dave Hickey, whose own foregrounding of self can occasionally be bad fiction but whose work I love nonetheless. In his 2013 collection of essays Pirates and Farmers, Hickey writes, “Unfortunately, art is not a liberal art. It does not constitute a body of knowledge in any traditional sense. It has scrap heaps of theories and oodles of information but no true proof, internal confirmation, dictionary or stable contextual reference.” To that I say: Amen and hallelujah.

This is not an indirect way of saying that poets write more meaningfully about art than academics. But poets are often the people who have spent the most time with artists, in their studios, watching them work, drinking with them, sleeping with them, inspiring them and feuding with them, so they bring a lot of disparate information to the table, in addition to a strong sense of place and a general lack of dogmatism. What Edwin Denby wrote about art—collected in his wonderfully titled 1965 book Dancers, Buildings and People in the Streets—has never been simply anecdotal to me. Of the 1930s, he said: “The part I knew I saw as a neighbor. I met Willem de Kooning on the fire escape, because a black kitten lost in the rain cried at my fire door, and after the rain it turned out to be his kitten. He was painting on a dark eight-foot high picture that had sweeps of black across it and a big look.” That’s a brilliantly compact prose poem about the feel of New York, about the size and composition of its art world at the time, and about Denby’s conception of how best to represent that history.

At The Times I was an art reporter, not a critic, though that distinction is not as definitive as it would be between a political reporter and an editorial-page writer. By the time I’d been writing about art for a decade, I think my decision to write about an artist or show or curator signaled both my own interest and the newspaper’s sense of the importance of the subject. I began to feel that readers wanted me to communicate not only what other people thought about a subject but what I thought about it, too. This wasn’t something that came easily—I’m an introvert by nature. But the chief intellectual joy of the job, which I wanted to convey in plainly personal terms, was the time I got to spend with and talking to curators, historians, and artists, even—maybe especially—artists who actively resisted the inclusion of self in the conception of their work, or at least fiercely opposed loose prattle about meaning: artists like Hans Haacke, John Wesley, Bruce Nauman, Isa Genzken, and John Chamberlain, who once complained, “Everyone always wanted to know what it meant, you know: ‘What does it mean, jellybean?’ Even if I knew, I could only know what I thought it meant.”

As a writer, I began to get a sense of where the “I” fit in my writing and why. I studied writers like Tomkins, who did it so effortlessly, without pointing to themselves except in the context of what felt like solid reportage, a mutual humanistic inquiry with the reader. Bill Berkson said all great art writing “proceeds, by stumbles and veers, along the lines of articulated sensation, cultivating a shifting horde of passions, tolerances, fascinations, glees and disgusts that mark the temporary side effect of what keeps promising to be a civilized habit.” The thought of passion for art—and that passion in art writing—as a habit that never quite succeeds in making itself respectable strikes me as absolutely right.

To wrap up, I’ll mention a kind of back formation that has helped me understand conceptually—philosophically, maybe—why I’m drawn to art writing with a heavy foregrounding of self. This comes by way of Louis Menand’s 2001 book The Metaphysical Club, his quartet biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Dewey, Charles Sanders Pierce, and Williams James and their roles in the development of the first truly American school of philosophy, pragmatism. Menand wrote of the four thinkers: “They believed that ideas are produced not by individuals but by groups of individuals—that ideas are social. They believed that ideas do not develop according to some inner logic of their own, but are entirely dependent, like germs, on their human carriers and the environment.” In my 40s, this insistence that meaning and truth were social creations, that what really mattered was conversation, experience, time, and proximity—being there, in other words, with other people—reoriented my thinking in a profound way. It opened up my thinking about how to write. And it helped me see why writing that brought in the writer, along with the anecdotal, the incidental, the particular, and the narrative—all those things that make up what Eudora Welty beautifully called “the grain of the present”—felt and still feels so alive.

Randy Kennedy is director of special projects at Hauser & Wirth. His novel Presidio was published by Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster in 2018.