Explore your world
Black and White Newspaper | © Jon S/Flickr
Black and White Newspaper | © Jon S/Flickr

Interview with Arts Journalists Montse Frisach And Maria Palau

Picture of Alison Moss
Updated: 5 January 2017
Montse Frisach and Maria Palau are two arts journalists specialized in visual arts who write for the Catalan newspaper El Punt Avui. Aside from their long careers as arts journalists, they have participated in countless projects related to visual arts and are part of the Catalan Association of Art Critics. We chatted with them in order to discover more about their motivations and the intricacies of their profession.


Montse Frisach (left) and Maria Palau (right) | Photo by Andreu Puig

Montse Frisach (left) and Maria Palau (right) | Photo by Andreu Puig

CT: What motivated you to become a journalist?

MP: I knew that I wanted to be a journalist from very early on. Although I am an arts journalist, I am, above all, a journalist. Before specializing in arts journalism, I worked as a writer in many other genres. Eventually, I ended up specializing in arts and, since then, it has been my main focus and motivation.

MF: Much like Maria, I was also determined to be a journalist from early on. My main goal was to write, and I saw journalism as a great way to make a living for myself while doing what I love to do: writing. Since then I have always been passionate about art and culture; specializing in arts journalism was almost an obvious career path for me.


CT: You both are members of the Catalan Association of Art Critics. What is the difference between art criticism and arts journalism?

MP: I am a part of the Catalan Association of Art Critics, but I am not an art critic. The registers of art criticism and journalism are completely different. Arts journalism speaks to the people more than it does to specialists.

MF: I do not consider myself as an art critic either. There was a time in which arts journalists were supposed to provide information about the exhibition that they went to see. But all of that changed with the Internet and the blogosphere. As these new platforms started to provide the same information that I did, I realized that I had to change my way of writing. I had to make my articles more personal and provide a content that was halfway between art criticism and information. I like to call this crossroads between the two genres ‘pondered information’: it’s a type of information that I can complement with my experience and that can provide the reader a more personal experience of an exhibition.


CT: So is it safe to say that art journalism democratizes art?

MF: It’s kind of an artistic divulgation that can be read both by an elite and by your grandma who knows very little about art!


CT: How has the economic crisis affected the journalistic field?

MP: Journalism has been dragging a crisis since way before the economic crisis so, in a way, we are now facing a double crisis, especially when it comes to the printed format. It affects our everyday life at work: now newspapers have fewer pages, and therefore, we have less space available to publish our content.

MF: I have been working in this field for 25 years now and have witnessed salary drops, dismissals, amongst many other things. Overall, I have seen our profession getting increasingly precarious in all aspects.


CT: More specifically, how has the economic crisis affected cultural journalism?

MP: Things are even worse for cultural journalism, especially for arts journalism! That’s exactly from where they subtract the pages, not from the politics or the sports section.

MF: Still, I think it’s a little shortsighted to rely on these numbers, because although it is true that fewer people read the culture section, those that do are opinion leaders and have much more influence, which is better in the long-term.


CT: How do you view the future of journalism?

MP: I think that journalism has to move towards a bigger complicity with the reader. Little by little, information should become more horizontal. The reader should participate in what they would like to read.

MF: I have hope that people will eventually react against the information overload caused by social media. I believe that we will end up coming back to our roots and start valuing a well-written text again, because right now, people care more about the immediacy of information than about how a text is written.