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December 1, 2010 / the s.a. project

the jurious meltdown

Jury / Crit / Tutorial. Give it any name. It has the power to reduce students to blithering fools and make monsters out of perfectly decent human beings. After all, what is in this dreaded jury that makes us all go cuckoo?!

Subject of a hot debate at a recent jury. Installation/still life by Naqsh Raj – to be used for further studies into paintings and the creation and re-creation of images.

At the BFA level (NCA) our  progress crits used to be fairly interesting with mostly feedback coming from the tutors. This was usually followed by mid-term and final juries, which used to be a spiel of heart-wrenching concepts from the students and gut-splitting verdicts from the invited jurors/artists. Pretty simple. Either you got a decent grade or you were left tending to your intestines. We thought our lives ended, or were at their epitome, at the end of each session.

At the MA level (NCA MA (Hons.) Visual Art), however, I think it is valid to say that the drama is tenfold and the anxiety preceding it ridiculous.

Many ask: what makes the MA a different, and possibly higher, program than the Bachelors? Well for one, the instruction is limited and the teacher student divide melts into a more guidance based dialogue between experienced academicians/artists and the enrolled bugs. The students are expected to jumpstart their own studio practice, based on the academic lectures and discourses taking place in the lecture theatres, and also indulge heavily in some self-critique. They are also encouraged to do away with niceties and diplomacies and learn to critique their classfellows’ and friends’ works. More so, they are made to understand local and international frameworks of art practice and place their own work contextually.

Simply speaking, it means responsibility. No one tells you how to hold your pencil/brush/tablet pen/knife/camera and absolutely no one gives a crap if you care about the world or your depression issues. It is then essentially about how you tackle a debate, and only you can do it.

This is where the dilemmas roll in. Issues with vocalising concepts are sometimes misunderstood to be issues of verbosity. Students either go on endlessly about their work or they just bottle up in defiance.

Likewise, defending ones work is also misunderstood to be equivalent to being defensive – an act which actually kills any positive critique trying to inch its way to the young bitter confused and angry student.

In my next post, I will be writing about the recent juries of the 1st yr and 2nd yr MA Visual Arts Students at NCA, hoping to provide an insight into what goes at their end of the dialogue and why, most often, they walk out of their juries extremely emotional and frustrated.

Disclaimer: In no way do these posts imply that I’m take my juries/crits brilliantly. I’m a blithering idiot before and seething raging idiot afterwards. Sigh…the joys of art education!



Leave a Comment
  1. Naqsh Raj / Dec 1 2010 10:03 pm

    I criticize by creation – not by finding fault.
    Marcus Tullius Cicero

  2. zobia / Dec 1 2010 11:31 pm

    now i am looking forward to wht next is to come in ur blogs …
    but this critics has definately made us what we are now ,,, and made us question our work ,, and yes at some point really shaken us …. to find answers ……….

  3. Nadia / Dec 2 2010 1:14 pm

    Simply and well articulated ! Always good to read your thoughts!

  4. the s.a. project / Dec 2 2010 3:13 pm

    well well well! i finally have people giving their feedback on the blog! that truly makes me happy.
    read on and enjoy…ill be following this soon with a longer post on the events of the jury monsters.

  5. saba ansari / Dec 3 2010 2:33 pm

    If college juries are so excruciating, what will international exhibitions be like where no one, but no one, spares the artist’s feelings unless they are damn good. Also be prepared to relive this when your kids go to art school!

  6. mohsin shafi / Dec 23 2011 11:26 pm

    how true!

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