Required Reading

Mexico City-based artist Vladimir Maislin conjured up these photoshopped images that explains a lot about Marina Abramovic's performance work. (via facebook.com/vladimir.maislin)
Mexico City-based artist Vladimir Maislin conjured up these photoshopped images that explains a lot about Marina Abramović’s performance work. (via facebook.com/vladimir.maislin)

This week, letting art orgs die, Marina has a headache, criticism of Gehry’s plans in Philly, LGBTQ issues at Manifesta 10, NYC’s shadow transit system, copyrighting scents, and more.

 Devon Smith has a very provocative article that argues we should “let arts organizations that don’t adapt die.” She delivered this speech at an Americans for the Arts conference in Nashville, Tennessee, this year:

This is a simple acknowledgement that the industry represented by the people and organizations in this room, is in decline. And I think that not only should we allow it, we should encourage it.

Tracked by their 990s, over the past 20 years, 40% of arts organizations have perished. But they are being replaced even faster. For every arts org that survived between 1990 — 2010, 2.6 more were born (NEA Research Art Works).

And I don’t have the stats to support this, but for every hour of “traditional” nonprofit arts that a consumer experiences this year, they’ll spend 20 or 30 times times that experiencing “nontraditional” arts and culture. Those experiences that reveal or question our humanity. That enable us to see the world and each other in a new light. Those experiences that delight our mind and our senses. That teach us about other cultures and expand our capacity for imagination. Because for me, those “nontraditional” experiences include going to a folk music concert, funding a poetry book on Kickstarter, appreciating the aesthetic design of an especially beautiful video game, the art of a pulling a great shot of espresso, and the craft of a great pair of raw denim jeans. All things that I’ve done these past 3 days in Nashville. And none of those experience required an arts organization to support them.

 The fallout from the Facebook manipulation study is pretty intense. The social network has already apologized (kinda):

“This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,” Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said while in New Delhi. “And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.”

And this terrifying reality check:

Perhaps this is something consumers just need to get used to. The Institutional Review Blog has a post providing some historical perspective on issues related to psychological experiments, noting that this is not a new thing Zachary Schrag writes: “critics of the Facebook experiment should at least be aware that we are talking about a mode of research that existed long before Facebook, and that federal ethics advisors and regulators specifically decided that it should proceed.”

One of the renderings for the proposed Gehry expansion at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (via PMA)
One of the renderings for the proposed Gehry expansion at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (via PMA)

 Kriston Capps, writing for CityLab, chimes in about Frank Gehry’s plans for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His argument is thought-provoking:

Rather, the problem lies with the role the Art Museum plays in Philadelphia, the role the expansion plays within the Art Museum, and the role that Gehry plays in the expansion. Although it’s a problem peculiar to Philadelphia right now, it’s one that city and cultural leaders everywhere should watch as it plays out. Cultural expansions aren’t necessarily a great investment for a city in 2014, and this one almost certainly isn’t. Gehry might be very bad for Philadelphia. In fact, Gehry might be Apollo Creed-level bad for Philadelphia.

… researchers found no evidence for a Bilbao Effect, which confirms what many cities have learned already. More often than not, cultural expansions drew in less revenue than they predicted and registered higher costs than they expected.

 Over at the Guardian, Adrian Searle sees Manifesta 10 as taking on Russia’s repressive LGBTQ laws, but I’m less convinced since the elite (read art world here) are often given more freedoms in repressive regimes. But his collection of “rebels” is still a good read:

A wall of Marlene Dumas’s delicate ink portraits of Great Men hangs in the Hermitage. The portraits include Tchaikovsky, Gogol and Sergei Eisenstein, Anton Krasovsky, the political journalist and gay rights advocate, and Dmitry Chizevsky, whose left eye was destroyed, says Dumas’s note, in a homophobic attack. Among them hang Tennessee Williams, Alan Turing and James Baldwin. One is no longer allowed to say that Tchaikovsky was gay in the new Russia, and Dumas simply quotes the composer’s own words: “Nothing is more futile than wanting to be anything other than what I am by nature.”

I also suggest you read Ekaterina Degot’s important text on Manifesta 10 over at e-flux. She writes in part:

Admittedly, Manifesta has always been part of neoliberal urban transformations with the silent consent of all parties involved, and its curators are usually very good at maneuvering and defending their interests and those of the participating artists. But is Manifesta ready to mirror that situation when an experimental “conservative” exhibition suddenly begins to resonate all too harmonically with ultraright-wing cultural policies initiated by the state? Is there something available to describe this, like the language invented by non-conformist artists of the Soviet Seventies, indicated by the untranslatable term nevlipaniya, which roughly means “how not to put your foot in it”? Over the last years, Putin’s Russia has unexpectedly turned to realizing a project of perverse decolonization and liberation from Western influences, including that of modern art and even more post-modernism (with the latter term constantly used as an accusation by the authorities). In official documents from the Ministry of Culture, full of sympathetic quotes from Max Nordau, the author of the term “degenerate art,” such work is now presented as a mix of “black humor, cursing, porn, and mediocre shamanism under the slogan of innovation.”

 Kimiya Shams argues that scents (i.e. the fragrance industry) should be protected by intellectual property law. She writes:

The global fragrance market, valued at $28 billion in 2012, is forecast to reach approximately $45.6 billion by 2018 … Companies invest, on average, between 7 and 12 percent of their perfume revenues in research and development. Yet the average lifespan of a fragrance is only three to four years. And one out of every three new perfume launches fails (each costing up to $70 million). A top selling fragrance can be highly lucrative, however, generating more than one billion dollars per year in sales. It is estimated that a bottle of Chanel No. 5 is sold somewhere in the world every 55 seconds. But, shockingly, the world’s most famous perfume does not enjoy intellectual property (IP) protection, even in Chanel’s home country of France.

 Joanne McNeil pleads to stop erasing female tech company founders from history. She writes:

Men are erased from history too. But no one is suggesting Michael Birch’s Wikipedia page redirect to Xochi Birch. Women are assumed to be tokens until proven otherwise.

 The LA Times‘ Carolina Miranda created a ridiculously and beautifully overwrought poem about artist Jeff Koons based on reviews of his Whitney Museum retrospective. For instance:

The hype has been endless for this.
The oligarchical collectors of our age, we know, do not care
They like their art instantly recognisable
easily graspable
and shiny.

Thomas Gainsborough’s "The Blue Boy" and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (via Flavorwire)
Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy” and Tarantino’s Django Unchained (via Flavorwire)

 The famous artworks that inspired 15 films in various ways, including:

  • Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” and Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven
  • Diane Arbus’ “Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967” and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining
  • Edward Hopper’s “House by the Railroad” and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho
  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Tower of Babel” and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis
  • Thomas Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy” and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained
  • Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s “The Swing” and Disney’s Tangled

 The New Yorker explores NYC’s shadow transit system that in comprised of dollar van rides from the periphery of the city underserved by the established subway and bus system. This van system is similar to those found in many cities in developing countries around the world. Aaron Reiss writes:

Today, dollar vans and other unofficial shuttles make up a thriving shadow transportation system that operates where subways and buses don’t — mostly in peripheral, low-income neighborhoods that contain large immigrant communities and lack robust public transit. The informal transportation networks fill that void with frequent departures and dependable schedules, but they lack service maps, posted timetables, and official stations or stops. There is no Web site or kiosk to help you navigate them. Instead, riders come to know these networks through conversations with friends and neighbors, or from happening upon the vans in the street.

… Chen Dao, a recent immigrant to Elmhurst from China’s Fujian province, told me, as he and his wife were riding a van home from a shopping trip in Manhattan’s Chinatown, “I’ve learned to read the subway signs a little bit, and I can recognize some English words. I know, if I see a ‘B-R-,’ that it’s going to Eighth Avenue” — the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. “But it can also be very difficult,” he said. “If you pass your stop, or you take a little nap, when you bring your head up you know you made a mistake and have no idea where you are. Then what options do you have? You have no idea where to go, you look around and there are no Chinese, you can’t ask anybody how to get home.”

 The CIA is trumpeting the fact that most of the mysterious UFO sightings in the 1950s were because of their projects. The whole 1998 CIA report is online:

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 And Matthew Inman takes on some obnoxious behavior, including selfies (read the whole comic at The Oatmeal):

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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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