ReactorWeekend

Required Reading

by Hrag Vartanian on August 24, 2014

Santiago Cirugeda's "Spider" building (via AlJazeera.com)

Santiago Cirugeda’s “Spider” building is part of Al Jazeera’s new six-part documentary called “Rebel Architecture,” which documents the stories of architects “who believe architecture can do more than iconic towers and luxury flats — turning away from elite ‘starchitecture’ to design for the majority.” Architizer has a short summary of episode 1. (via AlJazeera.com)

This week, a man discovers that Warhol silkscreened his criminal dad, rebel architects, Muslim youth’s rebel music, Gramsci Monument redux, Dante’s heaven, and more.

 A must-read this week is by Patrick Cockburn in The Nation, “How the War on Terror Created the World’s Most Powerful Terror Group.” He writes:

The sharp increase in the strength and reach of jihadist organizations in Syria and Iraq has generally been unacknowledged until recently by politicians and media in the West. A primary reason for this is that Western governments and their security forces narrowly define the jihadist threat as those forces directly controlled by al-Qa‘ida central or “core” al-Qa‘ida. This enables them to present a much more cheerful picture of their successes in the so-called war on terror than the situation on the ground warrants.

 The unbelievable story of a man who discovered that his father was “one of Warhol’s subjects in the installation ’13 Most Wanted Men,’” because of a New York Times story on the Queens Museum show:

Mr. Lawler and his wife, Deb Lawler, happened to read a review of the show in The New York Times in April, and were shocked when they saw a photograph with Mr. Connelly’s portrait. They had never heard of the Pop Art dimension of his life of crime.

… On Thursday, Mr. Lawler and his wife traveled from their home in Essex, Conn., to view his father as a work of art. “I still can’t believe that my father, the bank robber, is associated with Andy Warhol,” he said. “That completely blows my mind.”

 The world was horrified by the barbaric on-camera beheading of journalist James Foley, but Martin Chulov of The Guardian writes that freelance journalists are also facing other daily dangers by media outlets that are exploiting them:

The price of that dereliction has been paid in the dungeons of north Syria. The meltdown of the Middle East is one of the most important stories of our time, every bit as significant globally as the end of the cold war. Too many outlets have covered it through exploitation.

And related: #isismediablackout is a Twitter hashtag that widely circulated this week. It was designed by users to help blunt the propaganda of the fundamentalist group after they released the beheading video of Foley. Miriam Berger of Buzzfeed tracked the story on the social network.

 The story of global Muslim youth culture and its taste for “rebel music.” “For Muslim youth, music [is a way] to proclaim your identity, to proclaim your politics, to explain who you are, to mobilize, to build community,” Hisham Aidi told PBS Newshour’s chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown. You can watch the segment here.

 Whitney Kimball of AFC looked at Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument one year after:

Erik Farmer, Tenants Association President and a key facilitator of the “Gramsci Monument” …

Well I thought [the reactions] would be a little more mixed, but mostly, everyone misses it. They wish it was back. Everyone keeps asking me Is it going to come back this year, is it going to come back…I had to tell them, nope, that was it, not again this year. So there’s nothing for the kids to do now, they’re really bored. You can see how nobody’s out here, when the monument was here last year, it was full of people outside.

 A recent issue of Arte East, edited by Hrayr Eulmessekian, considered the subject of Lebanese-Armenian artists and how they grappled with the Lebanese civil war:

Almost 40 years later, the subject of the Lebanese civil war has not been addressed in any meaningful way by Armenian artists of Lebanese descent.

… The only artist that I’m aware of who has dealt with the subject is Seta Manougian, who stayed in the country and lived out the daily-ness of the war. At the present, she leads a secluded life as a buddhist nun in Los Angeles.

 It is really interesting to read what DiY, Nottingham’s fledgling free-party collective from the 1990s that were labeled “culturally, the most dangerous people in the UK,” considered the inspiration for their rave culture:

It was a subterranean, synaptic take on revolution, far removed from spending a Saturday morning flogging the Socialist Worker in Stoke city centre. “It was a kind of amplified Situationism,” says Harry, “referring back to the Temporary Autonomous Zones and the chemical escapism of the 1960s. As with the Dadaists and Situationists, we thought conventional politics had run its course and that only by confronting the status quo in new ways could we make a difference. We believed in the unspoken ideology of liberation through fun. Still do.”

 Some more proof that public libraries are absolutely amazing came last week when the Ferguson, Missouri library tweeted this out during the recent turmoil over the police shooting of Mike Brown:

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 10.32.55 AM

 Do you know the story of Julia Morgan, the first professional female architect in California and the designer of some of the state’s most impressive historic buildings? Here’s a taste (emphasis theirs):

Julia Morgan was born to a wealthy family in San Francisco in 1872 and grew up in a large Victorian home in nearby Oakland, graduating from Oakland High School in 1890. In an age when the vast majority of women did not go to college, Morgan enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley. Already set on becoming an architect, inspired in part by a relative who practiced in New York, she majored in civil engineering. Even more uncommonly for a woman of her time, she lived in her sorority house instead of at home. Here, she got her first taste of institutional living and the freedom and companionship that came with boarding with her contemporaries. “Living at the sorority house helped cut the apron strings,” explains Morgan scholar and historian Karen McNeill. “She could focus just on her schoolwork and not have to go home and have domestic responsibilities.”

 One religion writer explains what Dante got wrong about heaven (h/t @JamesPanero):

Indeed, I would go so far as to say that Dante contributed decisively to the disappearance of heaven in modern theology. That will seem counterintuitive to those who associate Dante with a carefully structured cosmos that provides for levels and degrees of sanctification and glorification. In fact, however, Dante’s vision of heaven not only vaporizes the afterlife but also annihilates matter. For all of his poetic greatness, he gives us a heaven that is little more than an idea to be contemplated, since he thinks it is our destiny to become one of the ideational objects of God’s self-awareness.

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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