ReactorWeekend

Required Reading

by Hrag Vartanian on May 25, 2014

Françoise Dorget explores the Southern Indian city of Tirunamavalai, which influence the work of the iconic Memphis Group work of the 1980s by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass. This folk architecture and design is strangely similar to Sottsass's "radicality." (via , h/t Curbed)

Françoise Dorget explores the Southern Indian city of Tirunamavalai, which influenced the work of the iconic Memphis Group of the 1980s. Memphis is the work of Italian designer Ettore Sottsass. This Indian folk architecture and design, which started in the 1940s, is very similar to Sottsass’s “radicality.” (via AD Magazine, h/t Curbed)

This week, Glasgow’s Macintosh building is mostly saved, a meditation on the essence of video games, background on the Joe Scanlan/Donelle Woolford project, the World Cup goes viral, the legacy of Anthony Caro, a giant golden calf piñata, and more.

 Some signs that much of the famed Charles Rennie Macintosh building at the Glasgow School of Art has been saved. Firefighters saved 90% of the structure and up to 70& of its contents, but the renowned library — the centerpiece of the building — didn’t make it:

“We have lost the iconic and unique Mackintosh library,” said Muriel Gray, the school’s chairwoman. “This is an enormous blow and we are understandably devastated.”

She added that the majority of the building remained intact. “Due to one of the most astonishingly intelligent and profession pieces of strategy by the fire services, they succeeded in protecting the vast majority of the building, apparently by forming a human wall of fire-fighters up the west end of the main staircase and containing the fire,” she said.

The government has pledged millions of British pounds to support efforts to restore the building, which according to one architect, who recently restored another Macintosh building, could take three to five years.

 If you haven’t read Tim Schneider’s essay about hacker/programmer/self-proclaimed information artist Grayson Earle’s Ai Weiwei Whoops! video game, you definitely should as it is a mediation on what a video game is at its essence:

Although Earle bills Ai Weiwei Whoops! as simply a “game,” what I realized after my failed spree was that it defies the formalist definition. He’d stripped his creation of both an antagonist and a goal. In fact, it wasn’t even fair to say that my actions had “failed” because the onscreen world offered no way to lose: no enemies trying to prevent vase breakage; no timer threatening to expire; no finite number of urns to limit my vandal urge. I couldn’t be forced out. The game only ended when I chose to quit.

… the defiance of traditional game standards in Ai Weiwei Whoops! ultimately leads to its greatest cultural relevance. To understand how, we must look not at Maximo Caminero’s decision to annihilate Ai’s sculpture in Miami, but at the greater ecosystem he intended to protest: the contemporary art world at large — which more than ever means the contemporary art market.

 Coco Fusco has waded into the Joe Scanlan/Donelle Woolford discussion with some important background that hasn’t been the topic of much debate:

Unfortunately, artists are often at a disadvantage when it comes to debating the cultural politics and historical legacies that inform the gestures they make — because they’ve been educated in the formalist hothouse of the art school crit.

I want to stress the central role of art school for this work for several reasons. The Donelle Woolford project was conceived at Yale when Scanlan was on the sculpture faculty and originally featured one of his black female students — Namik Minter, who soon reversed her original consensus and removed herself. Scanlan’s relationship with his black female fantasy is haunted by his lived pedagogical relations with black students. Furthermore, the debate rolling around Facebook and numerous art blogs resembles an art school crit that begins as a formal discussion about whether the piece “works” and then devolves into an ad hominem attack on the maker. Little attention is paid to the background, only to the object (i.e. the black body) in the foreground. As a visiting professor at Yale during Scanlan’s tenure there, I witnessed more than a few studio crits that followed that arc of development. Sitting together in white rooms with a student’s art works on display, the discussants were not supposed to stray from what was in front of them. The dominant rhetoric was formalism mixed with heavy doses of bravado and personal opinion. As for references to the world outside, at most one might have introduced history by referring to relevant artists as references. Black students I met there at the time conveyed in private that they felt stifled by the terms of discussion, especially because white students would frequently claim that they were unable to relate to work by students of color because they did not understand their cultural references.

… Yams Collective’s rupture with the Whitney is symptomatic of the lack of other discursive means within studio art practice for addressing social issues that implicate the institutions that sustain the practice of art in broader practices of exploitation and oppression.

 This might be the first viral image of the World Cup in Brazil. It ties into the bigger trend we wrote about a few weeks ago. It was created on the doors of a schoolhouse in São Paulo’s Pompeia district on May 10, and it was created by Brazilian artist Paulo Ito:

140520_SPOT_MuralEventoDaPompeia-640

 This is the fascinating story of how a 1977 book of concrete poetry by Esteban Valdés, Fuera de Trabajo, which was the first book of its kind to be released in Puerto Rico, “is fundamental to any understanding of the intersection of art, literature, and poetry in the Puerto Rico of the 1970s.” Marina Reyes Franco explains:

In Fuera de Trabajo, poetry moves away from being just words on a page and toward language that would, were its directives carried out, occupy a place in the physical reality of the interlocutor. Valdés proposes “poems” that demand not only to be read or proclaimed aloud, but also to be manipulated or constructed. Fuera de Trabajo effectively becomes a book that tempts, invites, and calls for the construction of the new reality contained within its instructions, while also leaving the outcome up to chance. It proposes an alternative way of being political through art.

 Art critic Karen Wilkin, writing for The New Criterion, opines on the state of sculpture as seen through the legacy of sculptor Anthony Caro and his influence on the work of Willard Boepple, Catherine Burgess, and Clay Ellis:

We seem to have come a long way from Caro’s example, however much Boepple, Burgess, and Ellis cherish the time the spent with him. Yet, despite their idiosyncratic approaches, they all continue to think of sculpture-making, as he did, as an additive, cumulative process resulting in an eloquent object whose physical properties and history are part of its meaning.

 There are some disturbing signs that Amazon is starting to use its power to strong arm publishers to conform to its policies and needs. The New York Times reports about its latest fight with a few publishers:

This week, as part of a contract dispute with the publisher Hachette, we’re seeing Amazon behaving at its worst. The company’s willingness to nakedly flex its anticompetitive muscle gives new cause for concern to anyone who cares about books — authors, publishers, but mainly customers.

Here’s the back story: In an effort to exert pressure on Hachette, Amazon began taking down preorder buttons for many Hachette titles. It has also suddenly raised prices on some Hachette books and has changed its page design to more prominently recommend other titles. These moves follow weeks of increasingly hardball tactics. Among other customer-punishing moves, Amazon has increased shipping times for Hachette titles from a few days to weeks.

 Here’s what happens when artist Sebastian Errazuriz invites the public to smash open his giant golden calf piñata stuffed with 1,000 dollar bills. Photographer Tod Seelie has the story for Gothamist and he quotes the artist, who explains: “The piece hints at the Capital system as an idol that we have worshiped for decades and is unfortunately proving to be false.” Mmmm … money:

GoldenPinata-TodSeelie-6

 Comic artist Grant Snider takes on conflict in literature (click for the whole comic):

conflict-lit-640

 This is sooo meta. “This is a GIF of a Vine of a Video of a Flipbook of a GIF of a Video of a Roller Coaster“:

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 Oh wait, this might be more meta (or something), and could tear the fabric of time itself. Behold the “Ryan Gosling/Macaulay Culkin Meta T-Shirt Saga” as a gif (and yes, this is a real, well, as real as Hollywood can get, thing):

rygos1120

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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