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Gay New York City-based photographer and gay activist Alexander Kargaltsev decided to stage his own response to the “outrageous and tasteless” portrait of Dasha Zhukova sitting on Bjarne Melgaard’s Allen Jones tribute chair. Kargaltsev, who says he was forced to leave Russia because of his sexuality, told the Huffington Post: “[I]t deeply saddens me to see that racism is now being glamorized and thus made not only acceptable but trendy by the likes of Ms. Zhukova. My own composition reverses the visual injustice and offense perpetrated by that editorial and in a way restores the equality of genders, races, and sexual orientations. Sadly, I understand very well that my work will be seen by most Russians as provocative and inappropriate, while that repulsive image (published on Martin Luther King’s Day of all days in a year) will hardly make anyone over there shake their head.” (via HuffPo)

This week, downtown performance insularity, best photographers in Asia, the value of arts education, charting the flight path of birds, a gay Russian response to Zhukova’s racist chair photo, street style, and more.

 Using a recent review of the American Realness festival by Alaister Macauley who wrote about the festival “Those hoping to find the subversive and the challenging are instead confronted with the slack, the coy, the mimsy,” Andy Horwitz chimes in with his thoughts at Culturebot … and this topic has been the talk of the “downtown” performance scene:

… the frequently navel-gazing and self-referential perspective of artists and presenters alike … have combined to create a performance culture that is aggressively insular and proudly uninterested in the public at large, or really anyone other than themselves. “Downtown” dance/performance seems to delight in its small audiences and irrelevance, wearing as a badge of honor its insularity while clinging to an outmoded victim mentality that is as depressing as it is ubiquitous.

I have yet to determine whether this insularity is an effect of a bunker mentality stemming from the scarcity of material support and the widespread cultural indifference to the form or whether this inwardness and irrelevance is the cause of the public’s indifference, but in either case the facts on the ground remain the same. And it is truly tragic.

 The Invisible Photographer Asia blog has compiled videos of the 30 most influential photographers in Asia. And then followed up with a post of videos about their work.

 Barry Schwabsky, writing for The Nation, reflects on art education and suggests that MFA programs aren’t the problem, but artist attitudes are:

The fact that artists are now minted by universities (and degree-granting art schools modeled on the university) may have done wonders for their social standing, but it’s also been a source of worry to many critics and artists, who think something of great value might be lost by the professionalization of the artist. In 1969, Harold Rosenberg reported in his art column in The New Yorker: “My mere citing of some figures—for example, only one of ten leading artists of the generation of Pollock and de Kooning had a degree (and not in art), while of ‘thirty artists under thirty-five’ shown in ‘Young America 1965’ at the Whitney Museum the majority had B.A.s or B.F.A.s—was taken by a prominent younger painter as implying that he and his age group were academic. ‘Academic’ is still a bad word, even though no one knows any longer exactly what it means.” Notice that in illo tempore it was still notable that artists had suddenly become armed with bachelor’s degrees. Today it almost goes without saying that an artist has an MFA, and poor old Rosenberg, sanguine though he was about the credentialization of art, is probably rolling over in his grave now that some universities are launching PhD programs for artists.

 Time magazine’s always interesting Lightbox blog has published Christopher Morris’s photographs of the New York City subway from the 1980s are a time capsule of a world that feels so foreign today:

 Christie’s is selling a self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi as a lute player. The fact that this wonderful painting is valued at roughly $5 million, while so much dull contemporary art is valued much more is a travesty:

 Tyler Green thinks there is reason for concern (already) at Philippe Vergne’s MOCA?

There are lots of things that Dia did not do well under Vergne’s leadership. It mishandled its stewardship of its greatest masterpiece, Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. After a 2009 announcement that it would return to New York City, Dia has been slow to re-emerge as a significant contemporary art presence there. (In 2012, Dia told the NYT that construction would begin in the spring of 2014.) But perhaps worst of all, Vergne spearheaded the 2013 deaccessioning of contemporary art masterpieces from Dia’s collection. That jettisoning of the sort of major artworks that should define a collecting institution such as Dia was a destructive, self-inflicted error.

 This GIFs, posted first (from what I can tell) on Gawker’s Kinja platform when the news of Bieber’s arrest this week broke, tells you all you need to know about Miley Cyrus … I mean, Justin Bieber:

 Colossal features artist Dennis Hlynsky’s bird flight project that tracks the flight paths of birds to see what patterns emerge:

 Ever wonder how Robert Rauschenberg got a hold of an bald eagle for his groundbreaking combine work “Canyon” (1959)? The MoMA blog has this:

As recounted in curator Leah Dickerman’s new book, Rauschenberg: Canyon, in 1959 Robert Rauschenberg received a call from a friend, the artist Sari Dienes, who wanted to offer him a taxidermied bald eagle she had fished out from the junk heap of a recently deceased neighbor, one of the last of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. Rauschenberg had recently become famous for incorporating all types of found materials into his art, so this kind of offer from friends was not unusual. He didn’t hesitate to turn down objects that weren’t quite right, but in this case, he said yes at once

 And this thoughtful op-ed from The Business of Fashion about street style:

Today, the fashion that appears in “street style” imagery too closely resembles the constructs found on the catwalk and in magazine editorials, and no longer reflects true personal style, argues Max Berlinger.

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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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

3 replies on “Required Reading”

  1. Kargaltsev gets it. Incidentally, though photography doesn’t usually do much for me (apart from wildlife photography), that is a lovely photo.

  2. Wish the subject in Alexander Kargaltsev’s image was fully clothed like Dasha Zhukova was in the original image that is being interrogated. We can’t ignore the fact that this image uses many of the devices that objectify black bodies, which is what makes the original so offensive in the first place, no?

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