ReactorWeekend

Required Reading

by Hrag Vartanian on July 15, 2012

This Wednesday, July 18th, the photograph that is considered the first image ever posted on the web will turn 20 years old. What is the image? It is a homemade promotional shot for Les Horribles Cernettes, a comedy band based at the CERN laboratory near Geneva. (via Motherboard)

This week, the first photo ever uploaded to the internet, MOCA drama continues, art theft for amateurs, a public art tour in lower Manhattan, Knoedler gets sued again, Damien Hirst in Burger King, Ai Weiwei’s blogger battle and more.

 The situation at LA’s MOCA continues to deteriorate as three bold-faced named artists — John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie — have resigned from the Eli Broad-controlled board of the city’s leading contemporary art museum. Ed Ruscha is the last artist on the MOCA board.

This all comes on the heels of an op-ed by Broad that attempted to put the MOCA situation in economic perspective:

Over the years, MOCA has mounted many great exhibitions. However, the museum has also curated a number of exhibitions that were costly and poorly attended, often exceeding $100 per visitor. In today’s economic environment, museums must be fiscally prudent and creative in presenting cost-effective, visually stimulating exhibitions that attract a broad audience.

Broad’s op-ed prodded a response from four lifetime MOCA trustees who shot back:

There is support in the art community for MOCA — not as it is now but for what it once was and what it can be and must, in the future, again become.

 Grant Snider’s funny “Art Theft for Amateurs.”

 When Teri Tynes writes about public art in Manhattan, I read it. She’s thoughtful, insightful and obviously in love with New York. Her recent tour includes a Koons, Nevelson, Dubuffet, LeWitt and Dine, to name only a few of the many artists in waaay lower Manhattan.

 Knoedler is getting sued again:

A Wall Street executive filed suit on Friday against what had been New York’s oldest art gallery, Knoedler & Company, charging that it and its former president, Ann Freedman, conspired with others in selling him a fake Willem de Kooning painting for $4 million. The suit is the third filed by an art collector involving a painting sold by the gallery, which closed last year

 Did you know Le Corbusier had a giant scar on his leg? If not, this photo of him nude and painting a mural is proof.

 Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek is a controversial figure, and this review in the New York Review of Book tackles two recent books by the public intellectual. John Gray writes:

Žižek’s work sets itself in opposition to Marx on many issues. For all he owed to Hegelian metaphysics, Marx was also an empirical thinker who tried to frame theories about the actual course of historical development. It was not the abstract idea of revolution with which he was primarily concerned, but a revolutionary project involving specific and radical alterations in economic institutions and power relations.

And this pointed paragraph:

But to criticize Žižek for neglecting these facts is to misunderstand his intent, for unlike Marx he does not aim to ground his theorizing in a reading of history that is based in facts. “Today’s historical juncture does not compel us to drop the notion of the proletariat, or of the proletarian position — on the contrary, it compels us to radicalize it to an existential level beyond even Marx’s imagination,” he writes. “We need a more radical notion of the proletarian subject [i.e., the thinking and acting human being], a subject reduced to the evanescent point of the Cartesian cogito, deprived of its substantial content.” In Žižek’s hands, Marxian ideas — which in Marx’s materialist view were meant to designate objective social facts—become subjective expressions of revolutionary commitment. Whether such ideas correspond to anything in the world is irrelevant.

 On July 7, art collective Liberate Tate installed a 16.5 m (54 ft), one and a half ton wind turbine blade in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. Called ‘The Gift’, the work was an unofficial performance, which is part of a continuing project by the collective to highlight the relationship of various UK cultural institutions, including the Tate, with oil companies. Here is a link to their video and press release.

 A bizarre blogger battle in a Beijing park included Ai Weiwei — though all the details are murky at best.

 A German collector donated 280 works to Washington state’s Tacoma Art Museum. It includes works by Frederic Remington, Paul Kane, Albert Bierstadt and others.

 Did you hear about the Burger King restaurant in London that is displaying a Damien Hirst painting to attract tourists? Yup.

 And what does your social network say about your politics? This infographic at Mashable suggests that PayPal and eBay users are more likely to be Romney voters, while Reddit and Tumblr users are more likely to be Obama supporters. Facebook user, on the other hand, are a toss up.

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and it 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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