ReactorWeekend

Required Reading

by Hrag Vartanian on May 18, 2014

Delicate paper sculptures suspended in mid-air by Peter Gentenaar (blogged by Johnny Strategy at Colossal)

Delicate paper sculptures suspended in mid-air by Peter Gentenaar (blogged by Johnny Strategy at Colossal)

This week, damaged Rothko back on view at the Tate, Latin American art in US museums, documentary photographers and the anger of their subjects, Istanbul’s disastrous new protest space, Hiroshi Sugimoto in Paris, stereotyping the “other” on book covers, and more.

 The vandalized painting by Mark Rothko at the Tate Modern has gone back on view, and Sir Nicholas Serota and the Tate conservators tell Phaidon how they restored the damage:

“I was on a flight in under an hour. When I arrived the work was already touch dry. Rothko’s painting is not just oil on canvas. It’s very thin layers. As a result, it’s very delicate. Solvents could remove the ink but damage the canvas. The ink had permeated quickly. It soon became clear that the challenge was to exploit the tiny differences in the paint, in order to remove the ink.”

Smithen said there were three distinct stages to the revival of the painting. November 2012 to August 2013 was spent researching and testing. September 2013 to March 14 was spent removing the ink and February to May of this year were spent restoring the surface of the painting.

 Are US art museums finally taking Latin American art seriously? Carolina Miranda reports for Artnews:

James Cuno, president and CEO of the Getty Trust, says the Getty turned its focus to Latin America instead of Asia or elsewhere for a couple of reasons. “One, there is the historic connection Los Angeles has to Latin America,” he explains. “The other is the demographics of this soon-to-be Hispanic city.” According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates from 2012, Latinos make up more than 48 percent of Los Angeles County’s total population. At the national level, Latinos are the largest ethnic minority in the country, comprising almost 17 percent of the total population.

… It’s in New York, the center of the U.S. art world, where the topic of Latin American art seems to have been most overlooked. In the last decade, the New Museum has had only one solo installation by a Latin American artist (Carlos Motta’s “Museum as Hub” piece in 2012). Over the last eight years, the Whitney Museum has had no surveys that deal with Latino themes and has done only one solo exhibition featuring an artist of Latin American origin … sort of. That’d be the 2007 Gordon Matta-Clark exhibition, “You Are the Measure.” (The artist’s father was born in Chile.) Even MoMA, home to the current Lygia Clark retrospective, is spotty. Most of its Latin American shows consist of solo exhibitions and installations. In the last decade, the only synthetic exhibitions tied to Latin American art have consisted of works drawn from the collection — such as the small survey of Latin American abstraction shown in 2007.

 What a fascinating story. The villagers captured in Eugene Smith’s renowned Spanish Village photography series have become iconic, but they also struggle with being icons of Franco’s Spain. This year another photographer, Jan Banning, went back to the village (almost 30 years after his first visit, in 1986) and heard what villagers have to say about Smith’s work (h/t @jmcolberg):

“Why didn’t he photograph any beautiful things? At that time there were already several good houses here. There was the procession. We weren’t that shabby. Okay, right after the civil war we were hungry but that was the case all over Spain.”

… He looks at it for a moment and says: “Maybe that naked child just happened to be there. I remember when I was a child I also played naked in the street during the summer.” “It’s still manipulation”, the mayor’s wife believes, “if that little lad just happened to walk there you still don’t have to publish that!”

… “Why did you photograph that woman doing her washing by the well? Are you just another photographer who has come to portray us as being backward?” With suppressed anger the town clerk, a woman in her thirties, throws this question in my face. “Today everyone here has a washing machine. It’s just this week we’re having a problem with the water supply. That’s why they are washing things by hand right now.”

… “the villagers didn’t want to and couldn’t iden­tify themselves with these photos. They felt their own reality was being humiliated and they felt forced to justify and defend it – against other villages and against themselves. You want to attack the regime, or portray fear and oppression? Fine, but then do it in another village and with other participants!”

But now in 2014:

And now, nearly thirty years after my visit to Deleitosa [, Spain] – which has since become an icon – you can indeed find a street there named after Eugene Smith.

 According to Justin McGuirk, writing for Dezeen, a new “park” space created in Istanbul for protests is a disaster:

… the Turkish government’s attempt to move protestors from Taksim Square to a new public space – nicknamed the “third testicle” — on a piece of reclaimed land at the edge of Istanbul was a failure from day one, says.

… Designed for rallies of up to a million people, this new, official demonstration ground is where the marchers were supposed to converge. Needless to say, on May Day it was deserted.

… And “park” is something of a euphemism. It’s true that there are several acres of saplings aligned in neat rows like hair implants, but to reach this greenery the visitor must first cross a desert of concrete – the protest site. On this featureless landscape the sun beats down mercilessly, reflecting back up off the pavers. In its sheer excess of space, it is the very definition of a non-place. Right-minded urbanists who harp on about the value of public space should be careful what they wish for.

In offering Yenikapi [City Park] with one hand, and taking away Taksim with the other, the municipality is sending the citizens of Istanbul a very clear message. Protest has been marginalised. Banned from the historic and symbolic heart of the city, demonstrations have been shunted to a peripheral site with no history, no context and no symbolic power.

 The Guardian‘s Adrian Searle obviously had a great time writing this review of Hiroshi Sugimoto at the Grand Palais de Tokyo in Paris:

Astronauts’ poo, a giant phallus lying on a stretcher, a future race of hermaphrodites — Sugimoto has created a treasure trove of the marvellous and the bizarre. Perfect for the apocalypse.

… Imagining the end of the world is a great creative conceit and has its own perverse fertility. The end is always with us — end of the novel, death of the author, death of painting, no more bees (in one section of the show, the beekeeper has hung up his clobber and the hive is empty). No more people, end of the world. The end.

 The Huffington Post has picked up on this young “collector” on The Antiques Roadshow:

APPRAISER: Not bad for two bucks. So I think you’ve got a great career going as an art dealer.
VERY YOUNG GUEST: I know.
APPRAISER: You should keep at it.
VERY YOUNG GUEST: Yeah. I think I’m going to be rich.

 Why is there so much guilt around books we never get around to reading?

The guilt and anxiety surrounding the unread probably plays a part in our current fascination with failed or forgotten writers. Hannah Arendt once wondered if “unappreciated genius” was not simply “the daydream of those who are not geniuses”, and I suspect there is indeed a touch of schadenfreude about this phenomenon too.

… When Kenneth Goldsmith published a year’s worth of transcribed weather reports, he certainly did not fear anyone would read his book from cover to cover — or even at all. That was not the point. With conceptual writing, the idea takes precedence over the product. This is an extreme example of a trend that began with the advent of modernity. Walter Benjamin famously described the “birthplace of the novel” — and hence that of modern literature — as “the solitary individual”: an individual now free from tradition, but also one whose sole legitimacy derived from him or herself, rather than religion or society.

 As @saladinahmed and @SimonMStevens point out on Twitter, why do most European books on Africa get the same damn cover?

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And it turns out the same is true for South Asia:

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And the “Arab” world:

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 The use of architecture and design to enforce social segregation (h/t @godveveryone):

The Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to let a downtown developer install a pedestrian bridge over Temple Street, which had been sought as a way to protect tenants from homeless people who live nearby.

On an 11-0 vote, the council allowed developer Geoffrey H. Palmer to erect the span over Temple Street, joining two sections of his 526-unit Da Vinci development.

Palmer’s company told the city it needed the bridge because transients living under the nearby 110 Freeway posed a threat to the health and safety of future Da Vinci tenants.

 A video segment that tells the story of a courtroom sketch artist in Texas and how he’s a dying breed:

 And then there’s this:

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 12.50.42 PM

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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