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The Most Popular Hyperallergic Posts of 2011

by Hrag Vartanian on December 24, 2011

2011.Has.Been.Our.Best.Year.Ever.

This has been a year full of discontent, which is our specialty, so it was natural that we were kept busy documenting, tracking and commenting on events around the world.

Take a look at what we found when we looked back on the year that was and what our readers enjoyed the most from our daily coverage of art and the world. From global unrest to copyright disputes, from iArt to memes. It has been quite an eventful year.

#1 National Museum at Risk During Egyptian Revolution

The beginning of this year started with a bang as we tracked the story of the Egyptian Museum and its precarious proximity to the events of the Egyptian Revolution in Tahrir Square.

As the only publication at the time highlighting the danger to one of the world’s greatest museums, our coverage placed a spotlight on an important cultural site that none of us wanted to suffer the same fate as Iraq’s National Museum, which was looted after the US invasion.

Our coverage landed us on the front page of The Guardian, as well as in papers in Poland, Hungary and elsewhere. We also appeared on Memeorandum, which is not a site accustomed to art-related stories on their frontpage. During the period we even connected up with a great writer who was based in Cairo at the time and was the first to report on the emerging role graffiti and street art was playing in the revolution. His report for us landed on New York TimesLede blog and Andrew Sullivan, as well as a number of other important sites.

We tracked this story for months afterwards and here are some of our most popular posts on the topic:

#2 Occupy Wall Street

When Occupy Wall Street began in September we were the first to look at the events through the prism of visual art and culture and realized there were artists involved from the earliest stages of the protest movement.

Our most popular post was the one where we picked Occupy Wall Street’s first iconic image. Taken by photojournalist Randy L. Rasmussen, this image from Oregon demonstrated the disproportionate violence being used by police forces against unarmed protesters.

Our coverage of Occupy Wall Street was featured on Time.com, WashingtonPost.com, LATimes.com and may other places. Here are just a few of our popular posts on the topic:

#3 Breaking: Millionaire Extorts $$$ From Artist, Street Artists Strike Back

In our quest to uphold justice and the American way, we felt compelled to publish information we received about an artistic response to a fair use travesty between Andy Baio, who was sued by Jay Maisel for the use of a Miles Davis photos.

What happened next? A street artist took the matter into his or her own hands and posted the image with the words, “All Art Is Theft,” on Maisel’s massive and well-known residence on the Bowery.

#4 The 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World: 2011 Edition

This year we revisit our annual tradition of highlighting the powerless among those of us in the art world with our Top 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World.

From Sotheby’s art handlers to people using iDevices to make art, from mail artists to public school art teachers in New York, our annual list aims to demonstrate how absurd all these art power lists are and how meaningless they really are in the larger scheme of things.

#5 Small Child Confused, Delighted by Kusama Dot Room

This is an example of how much people love watching children interacting with art.

Sure, all art lovers have had those revelatory moments when visual art just blows our minds. It’s surprising, beautiful, provocative, painful, confusing and every kind of emotion at once. So, when people saw this child in this video is feeling all that as he wanders into one of Yayoi Kusama’s infinite dot rooms at Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory, people just loved it.

#6 What Does the US Arts Community Look Like? NEA Study Sheds Some Light

There are 2.1 million “artists” in the United States, according to the National Endowment for the Arts, and many of us don’t know anything about them.

When the national arts organization released a study that examines the demographics of the country’s artists we summarized the study and opined on what it might all mean.

For instance, did you know that “artists” make up 1.4% of the total workforce and 6.9% of the professional workforce?

#7 50 People Get Naked for Art on Wall Street, 3 Get Arrested

Zefrey Throwell’s Ocularpation: Wall Street took place in early August but in retrospective it felt like the precursor to the massive Occupy Wall Street movement that would consume New York and the rest of the world in the next few months.

Throwell’s project pointed out one of the most absurd facts of the recent economic downturn, namely that members of the world’s financial elite can tank the world’s economy and not gets arrested, while 50 participants in a performance art project get naked and three are arrested. Justice? Hardly.

#8 iPhone Photojournalism Causes Aesthetic Controversy

That New York Times staff photographer Damon Winter won third place in Pictures of the Year International’s Feature Picture Story competition for his photo essay A Grunt’s Life isn’t surprising. The series of images shows an eloquent portrayal of daily life in a war zone for US troops in and out of action. But where the images came from is pretty unorthodox for mainstream photojournalism: Winter shot the photos on his iPhone, using the Hipstamatic application as a faux-polaroid filter. The problem is that not all photographers agree that Hipstamatic shots constitute the true depiction of events that photojournalists are always seeking.

#9 Lap Dance Artist Talks Power, What’s Really For Sale & Evangelical Christians

Artist Man Bartlett encountered Myla DalBesio’s unorthodox performance piece in Chelsea in August and he was intrigued by the power she wielded in the gallery and posted something about it on Hyperallergic. He wrote:

The power dynamic that is normally present in such situations was absent; there was no exchange of money for services.* I was a freely participating audience member. Yet it was overwhelmingly awkward to be in a gallery in Chelsea, with gallery lighting, with a woman’s breasts in my face and a room crammed with art-goers looking at the spectacle. She took my glasses off and put them into my shirt. And then she poured champagne on my crotch in a perfect piss-stain shape. Awkward!

#10 Pepper Spray Cop Meme Walks Through Art History

The pepper-spray cop from UC Davis, or Lt. John Pike, became a meme this year, but not just any meme but one that walked through art works of every stripe if only to prove how ridiculous and absurd his actions were in the face of non-violent resistance.

This zany meme went viral during this year’s Thanksgiving season and proved how much Occupy Wall Street had infiltrated our national and international psyche and culture.

Honorable Mention: Ai Weiwei

Surprisingly, none of our Ai Weiwei stories hit the top 10 (or 20, to be honest) but we provided extensive coverage of his trials and travails throughout the year.

From the demolition of his studio in January, his detention in April, his release, the charges of tax evasion and his frequency on the internet as a meme in the West and in China.

Just wait to see what we have in store for you in 2012!

Image credits for lede and homepage graphic: Marsden Hartley, Mel Bochner, Robert Indiana, Wayne Thiebaud.

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