Rabble: Michael Ned Holte
The Urgency of History Painting
on the work of Michael Wilkinson
I have started this so many times I no longer know where to begin. Well, no, I should begin with an apology, for I’ve promised you a piece of writing for a very long time, and the number of deferrals and delays is (mostly) uncharacteristic but also (totally) unacceptable. Rarely have I stumbled through so many false starts in attempting to write about an artist’s work. I should say that this does not point to any deficiency in your work or lack of interest on my part. Rather, I suspect, it points to the difficulty of apprehending your work from this considerable distance of time and space.
Rabble, an imprint of Insert Blanc Press, is co-edited by Holly Myers and Mathew Timmons. Rabble prints single author issues of critical essays of about 1500 words on a subject of the author’s choosing. The subject will be an artwork (or series of artworks), but broadly defined: could be visual art, literature, music, architecture, film, design; could be contemporary or historical. The essay will be printed in pamphlet form, with room for a couple full color images, and distributed at a reasonable price.
Rabble seeks to be a venue through which to interrogate the nature of criticism, a laboratory for prodding at the boundaries of criticism as a form. The idea is to begin with a framework that reduces criticism down to its two fundamental components—the thing that's been made and the person who responds to the thing that's been made (i.e., the art work and the critic)—and invite each writer to take it from there. We’re not looking for the average book or exhibition review, but something that tests out a new direction, whatever that means to the individual author.
We have great confidence in the potential of Rabble to make a lasting contribution to the cultural discourse on the West Coast and beyond. It is our hope that, in charting a path between the two prevailing poles of the genre—the ever-narrowing shutters of print journalism on the one hand and the ponderous obscurity of the academy on the other—Rabble will go some way in restoring the sheer excitement of criticism.
Images by Michael Wilkinson: 1. So What 2003; Vintage poster and etched mirror; 97.5 x 66 cm; Installation view Tramway; Glasgow, 2003; Private Collection, Glasgow; Photo: Michael Wilkinson. 2. Wall 2005; Etched mirror, wood, enamel paint; 146.5 x 122 x4 cm; Collection of John Rubeli, Los Angeles; Photo: Ruth Clark.