Art & Development, Community

Points of reference: 15 Feb 2009, 1306 GMT

This video of artist Ryan Gander talking about his exhibition, “Heralded as the New Black” at IKON Gallery, Birmingham’s top-notch ICA.

Drawings by Donald Urquhart, an Edinburgh-based 2-D artist. His older works (online at Maureen Paley Gallery, London’s Bethnel Green) remind me of Candyass’ jokey text works (see them at Alexander Gray Associates, NYC) and Tony Garifalakis‘ heavy metal-influenced work. Drawings like “An Alphabet of Bad Luck, Doom and Horror” (2004) are charming, if a bit juvenile and 1990s. So it’s interesting to see Urquhart’s successive turn. Newer works look like Vija Celmins’ photorealist drawings conceptually paired with monochromes (see a photo and review on The List) Interesting!

Maria Fusco’s “Report: Contemporary Art Writing and it’s environs” on Map Magazine, based in Scotland.

Why didn’t [the] Brooks [Memorial Art Gallery] — and other museums that practiced racial segregation de jure — create two collections: one for whites and one for blacks? After all, segregation laws had doubled other public facilities: water fountains, schools, hospitals. This answer is more obvious. If there had been two collections — or two museums — the ‘white’ one could no longer make a claim to be universal. Art for ‘whites only’ would be particular, representing only white taste. Letting ‘negroes’ into the public museum one day a week was an unavoidable way to guarantee the universality of what was, in effect, purely white culture. It was not enough to marginalize African Americans; they were required as silent witnesses to their own exclusion by a supremacist culture masquerading as a universal one.

Jenifer Allen’s “Colour Theory: The history of racial segregation in American art galleries and contemporary identity politics.” Frieze Magazine. Issue 120. January-February 2009.

Allen does a great job of articulating the privilege of white racelessness. In art, white (often male) figures are sometimes used to convey universal emotions, truths or experiences. You see this a lot in combinatoric mass culture kitsch (as Johanna Drucker puts it). I’ve been guilty of this before. Which maybe explains why I no longer relate to art that employs stylized raceless (read white) figures to get at vague, larger truths or somehow hint at the subconscious.


Some media mullings

Things I’ve been thinking about. I’ll keep this brief:

The Bad at Sports contemporary art podcast is great for frank, in-depth art interviews, even if the hosts often over-indulge in candor and chit-chat.

[Update, 2/24/2012: This podcast’s consistency and audio production, and the prestige of interview subjects, has risen in the past four years. Unfortunately, the original hosts remain dedicated to the podcast’s origins in bar conversations. The quality of dialogue remains informal and joke-y, verging on anti-intellectual and overly self-reflective. When the subjects allow the hosts to lead, it can seem like a college radio DJ interviewing an indie band, both trying hard to look like they are not trying at all. The only full episodes I’ve been able to finish lately has been with subjects who refused to be embarrassed about speaking seriously about their work.]

The Fresh Air episode on extraordinary rendition, with interviews with N.Y. Times writer Jane Mayer and a Canadian citizen sent to Syria for torture and detainment without just cause by the US government (aired Sept. 23, 2008). We really should pay attention and be more outraged. Another case of hubristic American Exceptionalism again…

The damn-the-world, God-chose-us rage of that America has sharpened as U.S. exceptionalism has become harder to square with the 21st-century world’s interconnectedness. How exceptional can you be when every major problem you face, from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to gas prices, requires joint action?

Very exceptional, insists Palin, and so does John McCain by choosing her. (He has said: “I do believe in American exceptionalism. We are the only nation I know that really is deeply concerned about adhering to the principle that all of us are created equal.”)

Roger Cohen, “Palin’s American Exception,”, September 25, 2008

Tom Morello (RATM) speaking out in the current issue of SPIN Magazine: in between snarky quotables about the wacky intersection of music and politics, Morello tells it like it is: Bush should be tried for war crimes (including, in my opinion, extraordinary renditions and Geneva Convention violations at Guantanamo and Abu Gharib, not to mention the unconstitutional expansion of the Vice Presidential office into the Legislative Branch). Furthermore, Morello reminds us that while a certain Presidential candidate may be hope-inspiring, in the truest democracy all citizens participate in making social change. Word!

Philip Zimbardo’s TED talk on the principles outlined in his book, The Lucifer Effect. After focusing on evil in his infamous Stanford experiment, Zimbardo wants to emphasize the possibility of good by bucking conformity, taking action, and following one’s own heroic imagination.

That almost-instantaneous meme, “Wall Street/Main Street,” and the dangerously explosive draw of anti-intellectual, common-sense wisdom and Joe-Six-Pack vernacular.

Finally, a quick bailout drawing, after Candyass.

toxic assets

toxic assets