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New Art: Merray Gerges 

Founder of CRIT newspaper talks about editing, curating and writing critically about art.

LENNY MULLINS
  • Lenny Mullins

Merray Gerges started CRIT in 2012, with NSCAD's then-student union president Sarah Trower. Three years later, CRIT is still going strong, producing quarterly broadsheet issues—on newsprint. Let it sink in that someone started a physical newspaper in 2012—packed with essays, reviews and interviews about art and artists in Halifax and beyond.

Today, Gerges is editor-in-chief of CRIT with contributing editor Rupert Nuttle (based in Montreal), designer Robert Ewanchuk (based in BC) and a group of contributors and volunteers. No one gets paid—operating costs are primarily covered by live shows and a partnership with the Khyber for distribution and support. "I was 20 when I started it," says Gerges. "Back then I wondered how may lols and xoxos I could get away with publishing. As our critical voice sharpened that's changed. The first issue was like the first pancake—we've learned so much from making it."

Gerges studied art history at NSCAD and journalism at King's. "I was frustrated with the lack of space for emerging writers producing critical writing," she says. Transitioning from a writer to an editor and curator, Gerges' words are sometimes found in the issues, but her influence is found in CRIT's form. Settling comfortably between the academic and the journalistic, CRIT has evolved. "In the beginning it was exclusively art-related. Over the three years I've worked on it it's diversified a lot. In our current issue we published a review of Boyhood, a piece on normcore. We can reference both Kant and Spooky Black."

Like the editors, CRIT's contributors are all over Canada, but the paper is committed to being printed in Halifax. "It's similar to the 'Why books when there are e-readers?' argument," Gerges says of the print issues. "There's something satisfying about flipping through, getting your fingers dirty with ink fresh off the press. The nerves while we're waiting for the boxes to arrive from the printer, then distributing it ourselves."

Each issue has a theme, and the spring issue is accepting submissions at critpaper.ca. The site also has a backlog of issues. "I feel like what's kept it going over the past three years is new people getting involved and bringing fresh ideas. People who have their finger on the pulse and who see potential. We're flexible and open—no one has rigid ideas about what it should be."

http://critpaper.ca/

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