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Last week, Sinead O’Connor declared that music has died. In an apoplectic Facebook post O’Connor vilifies Rolling Stone magazine for putting Kim Kardashian on its cover, and in the package deal calls out Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, and seemingly the entire popular music industry. Her argument, as near as I can tell it, has to do with the rank commercialization of popular music in regard to its employ of celebrities to sell the music though these personalities have little or nothing to do with the actual production of music.
Her public condemnation reminds me of Victoria Jackson’s response to the news that Barack Obama had been reelected. She is reported to have tweeted “I can’t stop crying. America died.” This in turn brings to mind Paul Delaroche, who after encountering a daguerreotype in roughly 1839 declared that painting was dead. It’s the declaration itself that strikes me as fascinating rather than the signified content.
What do we mean when we say that something, as opposed to someone has died? Clearly, despite Victoria Jackson’s devastation, the United States of America has continued on its conflicted, disputatious way, and painting has been declared dead and been resuscitated enough times to make the proclamation a kind of punch line. (Did you hear the one about painting buying the farm?)
I think that the description of something as dead in the above ways is more than exaggeration. It is an individual’s bid for public confirmation of his or her own experience witnessing a treasured object’s irremediable transformation. Essentially O’Connor is asking the people in her social media community to hold her hand and engage in a ritual of recognition and remembrance of what music was when its primary emissaries were singer-songwriters not salespeople. Jackson is asking for other evangelical Christians and anyone else who shares her deeply conservative politics to cry with her and affirm her grief by grieving alongside. (I will leave aside for the moment the indefensibly heinous nature of these politics.) Delaroche was engaged in a different game: he was more concerned with prediction, but subsequently similar advisories concerning painting have been more or less representative of the initial steps of mourning a lost object or practice.
This is to say that the human tribe is very much a social one and we do not, generally, grieve alone. Even in this age of electronically mediated connection we come together in order to consecrate the time that we witnessed something together, and we ask for support in moving ahead into a future we don’t quite comprehend.
Tabitha Arnold’s rugs pay tribute to organizers who lay their bodies on the line in the workplace, in the public square, and in the depths of private prisons.
The intentionality of Booker’s abstraction gives me the impetus to discuss something about the current zeitgeist that’s been on my mind for a while.
Large-scale installations by artist and adobera Joanna Keane Lopez and olfactory-acoustic sculptures by Oswaldo Maciá will be on view starting October 1.
After years in the making, New Time opens at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
The museum details the process of moviemaking, from its inception in storytelling all the way to its marketing. But interwoven into these exhibits are ugly truths.
Over 125 artist studios, galleries, and exhibition spaces open their doors to the public for this year’s Jersey City Art and Studio Tour, taking place from September 30 through October 3.
The former panels, removed in 2017, featured images dedicated to Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.