Transcript of Allen Riley's comment from Triple Canopy's "Critical Language: A Forum on International Art English" event

I’d love to point one thing out, well it seems like the problem isn't just that there’s one language that’s theoretical, and another language that’s formal. It’s that this is a kind of language where you’re ascribing theoretical powers to an object or a non-human thing.

So using the traffic example, if formal [language] is my work is about traffic, or this is a depiction of traffic and you describe how it’s doing that, then theoretical [language] wouldn't actually be my work questions traffic, it would be what is traffic?. And you’d write a text about traffic that accompanies the piece. You wouldn't even describe the piece. That would be theoretical writing.

So International Art English is the language that results from saying that my piece is questioning traffic, and this is how it does it.


And the result of that you start ... I mean it's interesting ... I’m getting kind of scared hearing these political aspects of this because it becomes, it’s a depoliticized and ahistorical language. It’s a mythical language. Because you’re speaking from your own sovereign subjectivity as an artist, which can be utilized by anyone, anything, for any purpose. That seems like an unintended consequence that has good and bad effects, but I’m interested in what people think about this anthropomorphic, or mythical, interpretation of it.

- Allen Riley

(link to the full MP3 from the event here)