OK GO’s new music video for “The Writing’s On the Wall’ is chock full of more optical illusions than you can imagine. (OK GO’s YouTube channel)

This week, blurring lines between fine art and video games, Indonesian performance artist gets YouTube famous, abstraction’s sameness problem, cartoonists and censors, smartcameras, Terry Richardson the predator, and more.

 Quit an interesting discussion by Eron Rauch about the blurred line between video games and fine art:

But why, you might ask, is an argument between painters and art critics in long-ago Paris valuable to discuss in regards to video games now? While there are, of course, wildly different concerns between the mediums, let me draw these two worlds closer together by looking at the criteria that was used in the Academy and the Paris Salon. First off, they had a formal ranking of painting genres. These rankings of importance were decided on by the people in charge of school and the Salon, who were also deeply concerned about what kinds of paintings sold well to their prime market (owners of massive villas). Foremost was History painting, called “the grand genre”. This was a category that included historical scenes of politics and wars alongside Greek and Roman mythological and other “large” allegorical/religious scenes. Next was Genre painting, which were elevated scenes of contemporary noble life, such as the famous Gerome painting, “Duel After The Masked Ball” (which I had on my wall in high school, and still quite like, returning to it 15 years later). Then came Portraiture, typically of nobles and generals, present and past. Then came the genre of Still-life. The rear was brought up by the lowliest of genres, Landscape.

 A look at the AIRBNB pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale over at Rhizome:

The “sharing economy” turns everything in your life into monetizable assets, “democratizing” access to them even as it imposes new social and technological firewalls on the city and domestic space. At the same time it dismantles any worker solidarity through appealing directly to the entrepreneur-as-individual. These are invisible class vectors that will be no stranger to anyone in the art industry. Next time you’re at an opening and you find the work boring, consider that these emergent capital formations are what you’re looking at as much as anything.

 Critic Jerry Saltz asks “Why Does So Much New Abstraction Look the Same?

Now something’s gone terribly awry with that artistic morphology. An inversion has occurred. In today’s greatly expanded art world and art market, artists making diluted art have the upper hand. A large swath of the art being made today is being driven by the market, and specifically by not very sophisticated speculator-collectors who prey on their wealthy friends and their friends’ wealthy friends, getting them to buy the same look-­alike art.

 The New York Times profiled Indonesian performance artist Melati Suryodarmo, but the reasons they offer for highlighting her are kind of ridiculous (YouTube views as art critic?):

Originally accompanied by Indonesian drum percussion, the reworked clip set Ms. Suryodarmo’s performance of a traditional Indonesian-inspired dance on 20 blocks of melting butter to Adele’s “Someone Like You.”

For the dance, first performed at the Hebbel Theater in Berlin in 2000, Ms. Suryodarmo wears a short black dress and red heels. She slips and falls to the ground repeatedly and exits the stage after 20 minutes, covered in butter.

The “Adele Butterdance” clip has garnered more than 1 million views and 2,000 comments. It has bolstered the original video, which now has more views than the remake. It has also turned Ms. Suryodarmo, now 44, into one of the most famous performance artists to come out of Indonesia, where classical and traditional dance dominate the culture scene.

 One of the women who accuses photographer Terry Richardson of being a sexual predator shot back at the fluffy New York Magazine cover story about Richardson with this personal story:

It was not a very good feeling to have, least of all when I’d already spoken at length about my experience in the belief that I was telling the absolute truth. I worried what conclusions Wallace would draw for his readers. My conclusions would, I figured, be somewhat different: trauma – particularly sexual trauma – affects memory, often in ways that allow predators to traumatize their victims while simultaneously rendering them unreliable witnesses to their own lives.

On Monday morning, instead of pictures, I woke up to Wallace’s cover story, “Is Terry Richardson an Artist or a Predator?” Is that supposed to be a trick question?

… In more than 7,000 words, the false dichotomy of the headline is never directly addressed – despite all the words the article spends illuminating Richardson’s glamorous-but-messed-up childhood, his nepotistic career arc and what various people think of his “provocative” work. Call me crazy, but allegations of sexual harassment and abuse are a little more important than what type of sandwich Uncle Terry likes to eat in the morning.

 The Tate has posted an indexed list of all 24 volumes of their Audio Arts “audio cassette magazine” (1973–2006) online, and it includes some fascinating contributions from:

 Funeral homes in New Orleans and Puerto Rico are trying new ways to display the dead at viewings, including staging them like wax sculptures:

The calls started coming in to the Charbonnet-Labat Funeral Home during its June 12 viewing for Miriam Burbank, who died at 53 and spent her service sitting at a table amid miniature New Orleans Saints helmets, with a can of Busch beer at one hand and a menthol cigarette between her fingers, just as she had spent a good number of her living days.

… “This is not a fun or funny event; the family is going through a lot of pain,” Ms. Rodríguez said. With these kinds of arrangements, “the family literally suffers less, because they see their loved one in a way that would have made them happy — they see them in a way in which they still look alive.”

 Jonathan Guyer, over at Guernica Magazine, writes that Egyptian cartoonists are finding new and creative ways to defy censors:

Among these voices are Egypt’s political cartoonists, satire long a chief ombudsman for the country. While they don’t report from violent protest zones, criticizing the security state is still perilous. Illustrators capture the everyday challenges Egyptians face, and produce work that is far-reaching: legible to the illiterate and capable of transcending cultural, class-based, and generational barriers. Plus, while illustrations may be creations of the imagination, their imagery goes straight to the gut. It shows the blunders of the ruling class in a moment’s glance. Protesters in Tahrir Square carried cartoons on placards, not opposition op-eds.

Mainstream newspapers haven’t dared to mock Sisi head on in political cartoons, and as the space for dissent has shrunk, some illustrators have been forced to pick sides or pack up, like Anwar’s friend and former colleague, a 27-year-old funny man named Andeel. He produced a vast and frenetic body of work for Al-Masry Al-Youm responding to the political crises of last summer, but most of it was relegated to his personal Facebook page. Chided for speaking out against censorship, he left the publication in October, seeking more space to push back against establishment storylines.

 We may call them “smartphones,” but aren’t they really “smartcameras”? MG Siegler explores why we shouldn’t kid ourselves anymore, and why Amazon’s new “smartcamera” is a game-changer:

Many of us still think of the iPhone 5c and its smartphone brethren as phones. But that’s really only true for those of us old enough to remember actual phones. To a 4-year-old, the iPhone — name aside— isn’t a phone at all. It’s a camera. “Phone” is just another app — and an increasingly rarely used one at that.

 The Vancouver School Board has added new pronouns for transgender students, reports the National Post:

The Vancouver School Board has decided that students may ask teachers and staff to address them by the pronoun of their choice, to accommodate transgender students for whom “he” and “she” do not fit.

Offered as possible replacements by the board: The newly coined pronouns xe, xem, xyr, which are pronounced to rhyme with the genderless plurals, they, them, and their, only starting with the “z” sound.

 Now you know:

 Even though the Google Art Project has been documenting museums around the world (in a Google StreetView manner), that doesn’t mean they have the rights to all the artworks on display. As a result of copyright issues, many of the modern and contemporary works are blurred in the virtual tours, and one blog is posting images of the ghostly results:

 Good to know (h/t @jmcolberg):

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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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.

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. I enjoyed the Eron Rauch article at Video Game Tourism, linked from this page. The author drew some fascinating parallels between the hierarchy of value pertaining to scale and subject matter that reached its peak in the ‘academic’ Salon of late-nineteenth century France and the values of the ‘triple A’-sector of the video game industry, today.

    It is worth noting that so-called ‘Casual Games’ have risen in popularity, especially
    with the advent of the iPhone and mobile technology. These games are also less
    grandiose and often offer more of an ‘impression,’ regarding the game
    experience, to draw the link between these more intimate games and the feel of
    the loose and seemingly improvisational painting style of the Impressionists.

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