Required Reading

Painted in ancient Egypt sometime in the Ramesside Period (1292–1075 BCE), this painting, which is believed to be the first depiction of sex in art, illustrates 12 positions. (via Andrew Sullivan's The Dish)
Painted in ancient Egypt sometime in the Ramesside Period (1292–1075 BCE), this painting, which is believed to be the first known depiction of sex in art, illustrates 12 positions. (via Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish)

This week, a photojournalist on a beach in Gaza, a dog saves an artist’s life, CalArts in the 1970s, Žižek plagiarizes from a white supremacists, in defense of appropriation, post-Murakami Japanese art, and more.

 New York Times photojournalist Tyler Hicks wrote a chilling piece this week about witnessing the death of four boys by the Israeli military while the children were playing on a beach in Gaza. He writes:

On Wednesday, that sudden change of fortune came to four young Palestinian boys playing on a beach in Gaza City.

… By the time I reached the beach, I was winded from running with my heavy armor. I paused; it was too risky to go onto the exposed sand. Imagine what my silhouette, captured by an Israeli drone, might look like as a grainy image on a laptop somewhere in Israel: wearing body armor and a helmet, carrying cameras that could be mistaken for weapons. If children are being killed, what is there to protect me, or anyone else?

 The story of a formerly homeless street artist and author, John Dolan, whose life was “saved” by his dog. His life story is unbelievable, and here’s a very small taste:

Dolan, until recently a homeless heroin addict, is now a “famous artist” as he puts it when he rushes into the Howard Griffin gallery, soaking from the rain. He has a sellout exhibition, a second just opened and a new memoir, which could become a bestseller. As he is well aware, the interest in his intricate drawings of London buildings, and of his dog, George, is piqued by his remarkable change of fortune. This poses two questions: where did it all go wrong, and where did it all go right? The answers, as many people find, are bound up with family.

 Japanese artists and curators talk about Japan’s Post-Murakami art generation in this Art Basel art talk:

 Photographer Michael Jang documented his time during the 1970s at CalArts, then forgot about the pictures for 40 years. He’s now posting them on Instagram as part of a “yearbook” he never had:

“I used the camera to interact a lot, to have something to do … Otherwise I would just be a wallflower. I used the camera to get myself into events and situations that I had no business being in.”


 This is pretty unbelievable. Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek was caught plagiarizing an essay by a white supremacist:

Under the man’s name, clarity has appeared at last, owed albeit not to some unfogging of mind, but to plain old stealing. It was just this clarity that struck Steve Sailer as odd: “a reader inclined toward deconstructionism might note that Žižek summarizes [Kevin] MacDonald’s controversial argument [in The Culture of Critique] quite lucidly. In fact, the superstar professor achieves a higher degree of clarity while expounding MacDonald’s message than in any other passage I’ve read by Žižek”. The reason for the cat’s barking, the dog’s meowing, or rather, this obscurant’s lucidity, is simple: it is someone else’s summary …

 John McWorter has penned an essay in defense of cultural appropriation:

But over time, the concept of cultural appropriation has morphed into a parody of the original idea. We are now to get angry simply when whites happily imitate something that minorities do. We now use the word steal in an abstract sense, separated from any kind of material value.

It used to be that we said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But now there is new way to see the matter: Imitation is a kind of dismissal.

But does this idea hold up? I doubt it. If one is seen, and seen in an approving light, one will be imitated. This is what human beings do. The very faculty of language is, to a large extent, a matter of imitation. The idea that when we imitate something we are seeking to replace it rather than join it is weak. Think about it: Does that even make sense? It’s certainly up for debate.

 Now this is an original idea: studio Chartier-Corbasson Architectes proposes using waste generated by workers already in a building to help construct new floors as demand grows:


 Sometimes product placement in movies backfires, like it did for these Chinese companies that signed up for Transformers 4:

Hollywood film studios have been turning to China, which is home not only to the world’s second-largest box office market but one of the world’s fastest growing markets for product placement advertising, according to media research firm PQ Media. Product placements in domestic movies can subsidize as much as 30% of a film’s budget. Revenues from brands have more than quadrupled since 2010 and are expected to reach $242 million this year, according Connect China, a research consultancy.

According to an unofficial count by viewers, Age of Extinction, a co-production between Chinese and American film studios, featured no fewer than 10 Chinese brands, ranging from Yili Milk to Lenovo computers.

… In the end, it’s not clear that Chinese product placement in Hollywood films has its intended impact — to make brands more appealing to Chinese shoppers. Mainland movie-goers complained the placements were awkward: In the middle of a Texas desert, a character sips on a Chinese energy drink virtually unknown in the US, in another scene, an American character pulls out a Chinese bank’s debit card. One viewer wrote on Weibo (registration required) after seeing the film, “It’s disgusting to see so many ads in one movie.”

 A great GIF (author unknown) tweeted out by @museumnerd this week:


 The Dubai-based Al Arabiya English news site tweeted this bizarre drawings of smoke created by bombs over Gaza. No comment:

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 11.33.53 AM

 And I present the Cheese Curls of Instragram, which forages through Cheetos bags to find tiny “sculptures”:


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.

comments (0)