OpinionWeekend

Required Reading

Did you know the creator of the Statue of Liberty, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, originally proposed his ideas as a Muslim women standing at the mouth of the Suez Canal in Egypt? The Daily Beast has the full story. (image via VOAnews.com)
Did you know the creator of the Statue of Liberty, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, first proposed his ideas as a Muslim woman standing at the mouth of the Suez Canal in Egypt? The Daily Beast has the full story. (image via VOAnews.com)

This week, the Statue of Liberty’s Muslim origins, Martin Wong in the Bronx, CNN’s objectivity lie, Jackson Pollock’s prints and drawings, antiquities on eBay, why audio doesn’t go viral, and more.

 Holland Cotter has a great review of the Martin Wong show at the Bronx Museum:

There’s talk these days of the art world being gripped by nostalgia for earlier times, namely the 1970s and 1980s. I don’t feel it. For better and worse, the art situation hasn’t fundamentally changed, except to grow bigger and richer, because people haven’t changed. And it’s only people I miss, individuals. Martin is one. I’d give a lot to be with him in a museum bookstore where he’d read, mind wide-awake and absorptive, almost everything on the shelves, or in downtown Manhattan where, as he well knew, the best art wasn’t in galleries, and he could take you to where it was. What he’d do with the world today, I don’t know. Keep painting it, I guess: paint history, paint it with a global eye, which means paint it critically, which means paint it from the heart, which is where the Bronx show comes from.

 CNN suspended a reporter for voicing a minor opinion after the US House’s embarrassing vote against Syrian refugees. This was the tweet that got her suspended (accompanied by her apology):

Thankfully, Glen Greenwald of The Intercept let CNN have it:

Labott’s crime wasn’t that she expressed an opinion. It’s that she expressed the wrong opinion: after Paris, defending Muslims, even refugees, is strictly forbidden. I’ve spoken with friends who work at every cable network and they say the post-Paris climate is indescribably repressive in terms of what they can say and who they can put on air. When it comes to the Paris attacks, CNN has basically become state TV (to see just how subservient CNN is about everything relating to terrorism, watch this unbelievable “interview” of ex-CIA chief Jim Woolsey by CNN’s Brooke Baldwin; or consider that neither CNN nor MSNBC has put a single person on air to dispute the CIA’s blatant falsehoods about Paris despite how many journalists have documented those falsehoods).

Labott’s punishment comes just five days after two CNN anchors spent 6 straight minutes lecturing French Muslim civil rights activist Yasser Louati that he and all other French Muslims bear “responsibility” for the attack (the anchors weren’t suspended for expressing those repulsive opinions). The suspension comes just four days after CNN’s Jim Acosta stood up in an Obama press conference and demanded: “I think a lot of Americans have this frustration that they see that the United States has the greatest military in the world … I guess the question is — and if you’ll forgive the language — is why can’t we take out these bastards?” (he wasn’t suspended). It comes five days after CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour mauled Obama on-air for not being more militaristic about ISIS (she wasn’t suspended); throughout 2013, Amanpour vehemently argued all over CNN for U.S. intervention in Syria (she wasn’t suspended).

 Robin Cembalest, writing for WSJ, reports that the Museum of Modern Art is finally exhibiting Jackson Pollock’s lesser-known drawings and prints — long the stepchild of the Abstract Expressionist’s oeuvre — along with his famous paintings:

Reversing decades of MoMA curatorial policy, this Pollock survey intersperses his heroic allover canvases with his works in more humble media, including drawings and his rarely shown lithographs, engravings and screen prints. Deploying MoMA’s unparalleled Pollock holdings, Ms. Figura reveals the famous Jack the Dripper as Jack the doodler, sketcher and lifelong printmaker.

“Prints don’t get the same amount of attention as paintings,” said Ms. Figura, a curator in the department of drawings and prints. “People view them as a sideline. But they enrich the whole picture. They allow you to see a more intimate, thoughtful side of the artist that informs everything else you see.”

… “Our predecessors would have found it wrong to be mixing these things,” Ms. Temkin said.

 The WSJ also profiled the Ryman family (as in artists Robert, Cordy, and others). It includes some facts about Robert Ryman you might not know, including where his first New York exhibition took place:

Robert Ryman moved from his native Tennessee to New York City in 1952 to pursue a career as a jazz musician. He’d been enlisted in the Army Reserve during the Korean War, and after being stationed in Alabama, playing the saxophone in the Camp Rucker band, he took a bus to Manhattan, where he rented a room from a Russian cellist on 60th Street, across from Bloomingdale’s. Wanting the flexibility to practice his music, Ryman worked a series of odd jobs: as a messenger for an insurance company, as a mailroom attendant, as a traffic manager for a chinaware importer. A couple of years later, while working as a security guard at the Museum of Modern Art, spending days on end with the Matisses, Picassos and Pollocks — and with co-workers (and future art stars) Sol LeWitt and Dan Flavin — Ryman abandoned his musical pursuits to paint. Almost entirely self-taught, he signed up for a figure drawing class but quit after six weeks. He sat through another course called Experimental Painting, where he learned the fundamentals of watercolor and pastel. One of Ryman’s first exhibited works hung in the MoMA staff exhibition in 1958.

 Recently, artist Lucien Smith, Salon 94 art dealer Jeanne Greenberg-Rohatyn, and real estate mogul Keith Rubinstein threw a tone-deaf party in the South Bronx that included burned-out cars. Turns out it has had some negative impact on at least one person’s reputation:

Art F City has learned that artist Avery K. Singer refused Greenberg Rohatyn’s request for a studio visit, on the grounds that the party was insensitive and likely to lead the gallery into further trouble.

The blog has the whole email.

 Who said you can’t find cool things on eBay? Someone found 2,000-year-old papyrus fragments with parts of the Greek New Testament written on them.

 Ever wonder why audio files, unlike photographs or videos, rarely go viral? Stan Alcorn writes:

… There is no Google Sound, no BuzzFeed for audio, no obvious equivalent of Gangnam Style, Grumpy Cat or Doge. If you define “viral” as popularity achieved through social sharing, and audio as sound other than music, even radio stations’ most viral content isn’t audio — it’s video. A 17-minute video interview with Miley Cyrus at Hot 97 has nearly 2 million views. An off-the-rails BBC Radio 1 video interview with Mila Kunis: more than 12 million. In June 2013, the list of the 100 most-shared news articles on Facebook included three from NPR, but none included audio. Two of these stories were reblogs of YouTube videos (this one and this one), found on Gawker and Reddit.

“Audio never goes viral,” writes radio and podcast producer Nate DiMeo. “If you posted the most incredible story  —  literally, the most incredible story that has ever been told since people have had the ability to tell stories, it will never, ever get as many hits as a video of a cat with a moustache.”

 Let’s all kill the new Nordic cuisine, which the writer calls an “edible lecture”:

New Nordic was born in a manifesto, of course, one clearly inspired in its back-to-basics, hair-shirtedness by the Danish Dogme film movement. And it was brilliant. Properly revolutionary, and so desperately needed in a region which had lost all contact with its culinary heritage and indigenous ingredients. I was living in Copenhagen at the time and was probably the first foreign journalist to write about restaurant Noma. I got to know the people behind this New Nordic pioneer, chef René Redzepi and food entrepreneur Claus Meyer. I even ended up MC-ing Noma’s first food festival, the MAD Symposium, in a circus tent on a piece of industrial wasteland beside the harbour. It was a blast.

… So what are the warning signs that you are in for an edible lecture? It’s usually already spelled out in the sanctimonious tone of the menu. Just because something is ‘locally sourced’ does not mean it will taste better, nor be any more ‘ethical’ for that matter. In fact, Noma was never a strictly ‘local’ kitchen: it sources ingredients from thousands of kilometres away in the Arctic, and serves chocolate, wine and coffee. It is ‘regional… with exceptions’. ‘Everyone likes a bit of chocolate at the end of the meal,’ Redzepi once told me, affably, and he has since become an evangelist for Mexican food and most recently was behind a pop-up restaurant in Tokyo and recently announced the restaurant will be moving temporarily to Sydney next year.

 What happened to the person who created the world’s first viral video?

Q: So after you created the video, how did you get it out there? Was it on albinoblacksheep.com at first?

Jason Windsor: So it was on that site and, I feel like, eBaum’s World. This was pre-YouTube, so places like that were starting to curate Flash videos and stuff. It doesn’t even really have my name on it or anything. I sent it internally — I didn’t actually post it anywhere. I sent it to some of the same friends — this was back in the days of, like, pirating and Napster — and one of my friends had all of his channels overseas for getting pirated music and stuff. He sent this to some of his people, his hacker people overseas, and somebody somewhere eventually posted it. It made its way online somehow, but I’m not exactly sure how.

Q: What was the timeline from when it initially came onto the scene to when it totally blew up?

Jason Windsor: Gosh. Less than a year.

Btw, here’s the video:

 Gawker appears to have a woman problem:

The idea that the well-being of the women at Gawker Media was considered only when there was a public outrage over it is not just something that happened in a vacuum, nor is it something of the distant past. Only a few months following the rape gif controversy, the Gawker office seating chart was leaked to The Awl, a boys’ club oversight made without considering the real threats that were lobbied against women writers at the company (and on a larger scale, in the media) every day. That same month, reporter Anna Merlan published a report on how the police respond to violent online threats, which thoroughly covered how authority figures largely have no clue or no interest in protecting women who work or exist on the web.

 When did “treat yourself” become a capitalist command?

The advertising industry has nudged self-care away from introspection and towards reflexive consumerism. According to copywriters, you “deserve” everything from “a break today” (at McDonald’s) to “brighter eyes” (with new make-up) from “a decent sandwich” (from Milio’s) to, simply, “the best” (in the form of Beats By Dre). The implication is clear: Consumers who fail to purchase such treats are depriving themselves, failing to meet their own needs. By the late 2000s, the trope “you deserve it!” had irritated, among others, Rush Limbaugh, various entrepreneurs, and frugal bloggers. As one of those bloggers points out, “We definitely do not deserve the bondage that comes with being under obligation to a credit-card company.”

In this way, capitalism has taken what Foucault called “a general attitude and also a precise act every day” and broken it down into a series of indulgent yet somehow necessary purchases of cosmetics, electronics, and fast food. When combined with the constant reminders that well-being also requires a sensible diet and lots of exercise, America’s overall approach to self-care begins to appear shallow, haphazard, and contradictory.

 ISIS (Daesh, whatever) has — believe it or not — created a help desk for its terrorists and sympathizers. NBC News reports:

Counterterrorism analysts affiliated with the U.S. Army tell NBC News that the ISIS help desk, manned by a half-dozen senior operatives around the clock, was established with the express purpose of helping would-be jihadists use encryption and other secure communications in order to evade detection by law enforcement and intelligence authorities.

But the best part is that the terrorist organization’s latest outreach has inspired a hilarious meme that pokes fun at customer service realities. Some of my faves:

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, 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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