In the latest issue of Cluster Mag, a “magazine of international popular culture,” writer Jesse Myerson places the asset-stripping drama surrounding Detroit’s bankruptcy against a broader historical context, one that dates to the 13th-century failure of Constantinople. Taking as its launching point the widely circulated November 2013 proclamation that “art is not an essential asset” (uttered on behalf of the Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., a major Detroit creditor last seen organizing a $2 billion offer for the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection), the article presents the specter of municipal bankruptcy as encoded within the “modern financial system,” one with roots in Venice and its financing of the Crusades. “Venice,” Myerson writes,
could be considered the ultimate ruthless creditor, and in the summer of 1204 it transformed the largest, wealthiest, best-fortified city in the Western world, Constantinople, then the seat of the Byzantine Empire, into a smoldering wasteland. It was abandoned by 90 percent of its population, stripped of its assets, and vanquished as a world power in the pursuit of debt service.
What follows is a detailed and fluent account of the financial politics underlying the fall of Constantinople, a narrative that wends its way to Detroit’s contemporary “nihilism of debt.” The piece is an engaging exercise in historical accounting, and it fits well into this fifth edition of Cluster Mag, on the theme of “Islands.” The surrounding material is uniformly intriguing, ranging from an interviews-based profile of Staten Island (New York’s “last gold coast”) by Natalia Linares and Wills Glasspiegel to a smartly elliptical profile of artist Jacolby Satterwhite by Andrew Durbin (at one point Satterwhite’s “island-making practice” is linked to Durbin’s annual Shamrock Shake habit).
The fifth issue of Cluster, edited by Giampaolo Bianconi, Michelle Lhooq, Jesse Myerson, Molly Osberg, and Max Pearl, is available for download as a PDF here; individual articles will be posted online in the coming weeks.
Arriving amid increased anti-Asian racism and continuing discourse about the inhumanity of its prison system, this documentary is a strong historical gut punch.
A “show within a show” at the Whitney Biennial pays homage to the visual and literary art of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, whose life was cut short through an act of brutal violence.
The Newark Museum of Art Presents Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
Photographers Antony Armstrong Jones, Milt Hinton, Chuck Stewart, Barbara Morgan, and more capture a breadth of legendary and local musicians and performance artists. On view through August 21.
Social media persona Sad Beige Werner Herzog presents a seemingly endless array of sniffling tots stuffed into gray, brown, and tan knits.
A new Bronx location for the Universal Hip Hop Museum is set to open its doors in 2024.
Art and photographs, publications from the 19th and 20th centuries, manuscripts, posters and more are set to cross the auction block on August 18.
Researchers at the University of South Florida have created a tool that can potentially help hone human concentration through the creation of art with only the power of the mind.
The settlement comes after Tate prevented an artist who exposed sexual harassment by one of its largest donors from co-curating an exhibition.
Let’s be honest: On a best bathrooms list, no one wants to be number two.
Advocacy groups are pushing for a 5% royalty in resales, which would pertain even after the artist dies, in which case the funds would go to their estate.
This week, the Getty Museum is returning ancient terracottas to Italy, parsing an antisemitic mural at Documenta, an ancient gold find in Denmark, a new puritanism, slavery in early Christianity, and much more.