Quodlibetica: what pleases, and why

Quodlibet – definition:

Main Entry: quod·li·bet

Pronunciation: \ˈkwäd-lə-ˌbet\

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin quodlibetum, from Latin quodlibet, neuter of quilibet any whatever, from qui who, what + libet it pleases, from libēre to please — more at who, love

Date: 14th century

1 : a philosophical or theological point proposed for disputation; also : a disputation on such a point

2 : a whimsical combination of familiar melodies or texts

Christina Schmid says she looked long and hard for a name for her new website, before she stumbled across the word “quodlibet.” Schmid says she found the word a perfect description of what she hopes to accomplish with her new online magazine dedicated to arts criticism.

As people who write about art, we’re engaging with these elements that are already out there, and we’re interested in argument as well as these elements of whimsy. Plus it looked really good in our typeface.

Quodlibetica officially launched in September, and every other month presents a series of essays (called a “constellation”) around a basic theme. September’s theme was “wilderness,” while November’s theme is “death” (coming on the heels of Halloween).

Schmid is one of two managing editors of the site . She says she fell into writing about art a short while ago and was faced with a few different paths, none of which really appealed to her. She contemplated journalistic writing about the arts, which would force her to be very up to date about current events and artists.

But there’s a certain rush and breathlessness to that. And I wanted to go deeper, take more time with the art. I wanted to stay away from arts writing that is just cheerleading for the arts, and I didn’t see a place for that on other local websites. Unless you go to the academic sites, and that’s not necessarily what I wanted to write or read.

Thus the creation of Quodlibetica, a site which Schmid hopes will balance great writing and great artistic insight while creating room for plafulness, experimentation, and thoughtful argument. The work is heavily weighted on reviewing visual art, but also includes poetry, photo essays, and first person tales.

The new site marks the first foray since mnartists.org at creating a destination for thoughtful arts criticism in the Twin Cities. Schmid says anyone is welcome to submit an essay (they will be edited), but to date the most willing contributors have been academics looking for a place to write with a more personal voice.

The site is Twin Cities based, and as such focuses primariloy on Minnesota artists and exhibitions. Ultimately Schmid says, if the website truly succeeds, it will generate not only great writing, but will stimulate the creation of better art.

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