This may have been one of the scariest images to come out of the Black Lives Matter protest at Minneapolis's Mall of America. (via @timnelson_mpr)

This may have been one of the scariest images to come out of the Black Lives Matter protest at Minneapolis’s Mall of America. (via @timnelson_mpr)

This week, origins of Etruscans, Pollock in Dallas, artists and scholars on the margins, Iran’s underground, MSM’s obsession with terrorism, and more.

 Rashayla Marie Brown writes an “Open Letter To My Fellow Young Artists And Scholars Who Work On The Margins – A Tribute to Terry Adkins.” It is moving:

To you, I declare that community is not passé. It is the foundation upon which we stand, no matter how post-modern, irreverent, or solitary our practices. Also, I propose that heritage and the history of those who came before you is not a burden, but a source of strength. Tribute, homage, and respect are not just generational mandates — it is how your foundation is continually fortified. Community is how artists survive perpetual historical amnesia at the hands of the gatekeepers of the canon from which we seek acceptance.

I’m not going to lie to you. There are rewards for this amnesia — people will call you avant-garde or controversial, you don’t seem hindered by oppression, you aren’t didactic, you will gain access into places — alone — because you are one of the chosen ones who don’t challenge the institution. But you will be in the ivory tower, alone.

 A look at Iran’s underground art scene:

The recently elected president, Hassan Rohani — a moderate politician and cleric — is said to be in favor of promoting art and giving more freedom to artists. Despite the fact that musical instruments are still frowned on as a form of moral deviance and never shown on TV, in January 2014 a famous Iranian band called “Pallett” was able to perform live on national television for the first time in thirty years of Islamic hegemony in Iran.

Does this mark the beginning of an era with increasing civil freedom and flourishing liberal arts in Iran?

 Writer Annia Ciezadlo has a poetic reflection on the nature of refugees and displacement:

A camp is, by definition, a place for people already betrayed by borders. Kara Tepe is an “informal” camp, in humanitarian parlance, which means that nobody was responsible for managing it. The mayor of Lesvos had set aside the land when the refugee crisis began to explode, and the streets of Mytilene were full of refugees. The International Rescue Committee trucked in gravel and installed toilets. A Greek NGO called METAction was providing interpreters and legal help. But when we were there, in late August, after the refugee crisis had been going on for four months, the authorities—the Greek government, the European Union, the big international NGOs—were nowhere to be found. Kara Tepe itself is a symbol of Europe’s failure.

“To create a facility like Kara Tepe for one thousand people,” said Efi Latsoudi, one of the Greek activists I talked to, “is a big stupidity.”

 DNA research may have finally discovered the origin of Etruscan culture, western Anatolia:

The latest findings confirm what was said about the matter almost 2,500 years ago, by the Greek historian Herodotus. The first traces of Etruscan civilisation in Italy date from about 1200 BC.

About seven and a half centuries later, Herodotus wrote that after the Lydians had undergone a period of severe deprivation in western Anatolia, “their king divided the people into two groups, and made them draw lots, so that the one group should remain and the other leave the country; he himself was to be the head of those who drew the lot to remain there, and his son, whose name was Tyrrhenus, of those who departed”.

It was a Roman who muddied the waters. The historian Livy, writing in the first century BC, claimed the Etruscans were from northern Europe. A few years later, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a Greek writer living in Rome, came up with the theory that the Etruscans were, on the contrary, indigenous Italians who had always lived in Etruria.

 The 10 best articles Wikipedia deleted this week and why:

Wikipedia’s deletion rules are vast and varied, but every to-be-deleted article (that isn’t already slated for something called “Speedy deletion”) gets put in something called “Articles for deletion” before the hammer actually comes down. So we’re sucking up each and every proposed deletion, going through the whole mess of eventual deletions, and giving you the best of what Wikipedia has deemed the worst. We’re doing this because Wikipedia, one of the most-trafficked websites in the world, is a crucial repository of information that increasingly defines what constitutes “public knowledge” in the 21st century, and what its elite editors consider “notable” is itself notable.

 Christopher Knight reviews the Jackson Pollock exhibition in Dallas that focuses on his Black Paintings. He writes:

Almost from the day they were first shown, Pollock’s controversial black paintings have been commonly regarded as emblematic of a hugely important artist falling apart and flaming out. After seeing “Blind Spots,” which unfortunately will not travel in the U.S., I now think of them in a very different way: The paintings instead show him experimenting with the artistic implications of what he had already achieved.

… Line got unhinged from its ancient role as the means with which to describe a figure against a ground. Instead, when Pollock dripped thinned paint from a stick or a brush, moving his wrist and arm fast or slow, wide or contracted, high or low in the air above a canvas, an almost infinitely variable range of linear marks fell to the canvas below. The paintings, made by active drawing in space, read visually as energy unleashed.

This is where the real disdain for the subsequent black paintings comes up. Suggestions of linear figures (or fragments of figures) are self-evident — heads, eyes, birds, claws, reclining or seated nudes, ghostly specters and more. Surprisingly, they often recall the stripped-down linear figures Matisse was making at the same moment.

 President Obama is right and the MSM is obsessed with terrorism and doesn’t want to discuss more pressing issues. Here is the data for CNN but it is roughly the same across all networks:

 Seymour M. Hersh writes about US intelligence and Syria, and it’s not a pretty story:

‘Our policy of arming the opposition to Assad was unsuccessful and actually having a negative impact,’ the former JCS adviser said. ‘The Joint Chiefs believed that Assad should not be replaced by fundamentalists. The administration’s policy was contradictory. They wanted Assad to go but the opposition was dominated by extremists. So who was going to replace him? To say Assad’s got to go is fine, but if you follow that through – therefore anyone is better. It’s the “anybody else is better” issue that the JCS had with Obama’s policy.’ The Joint Chiefs felt that a direct challenge to Obama’s policy would have ‘had a zero chance of success’. So in the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing US intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State.

Germany, Israel and Russia were in contact with the Syrian army, and able to exercise some influence over Assad’s decisions – it was through them that US intelligence would be shared. Each had its reasons for co-operating with Assad: Germany feared what might happen among its own population of six million Muslims if Islamic State expanded; Israel was concerned with border security; Russia had an alliance of very long standing with Syria, and was worried by the threat to its only naval base on the Mediterranean, at Tartus. ‘We weren’t intent on deviating from Obama’s stated policies,’ the adviser said. ‘But sharing our assessments via the military-to-military relationships with other countries could prove productive. It was clear that Assad needed better tactical intelligence and operational advice. The JCS concluded that if those needs were met, the overall fight against Islamist terrorism would be enhanced. Obama didn’t know, but Obama doesn’t know what the JCS does in every circumstance and that’s true of all presidents.’

 The Russian censors have launched an automatic online system to spot “extremist” content. I can’t imagine this will lead to anything good:

According to Russian law, Roscomnadzor issues a warning to a media outlet for a first-time offense of publishing forbidden content online. After a second warning to the same media outlet, the media watchdog can take the matter to court and demand that the media outlet’s license be revoked.

 Here is a curious social phenomenon … what time do people around the world wake up on Christmas day? The New York Times has got the answer:

 Saturday Night Live at its best. Middle-aged men are asked to meet their second wives:

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.

The Latest

Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

7 replies on “Required Reading”

  1. I’m obsessed with terrorism like I am with breathing for survival.

    In the case of radical Islamism, for me the obsession started with the destruction of the Buddha statues in Afghanistan. For others it may have started with the murders in NY, Madrid, London, Paris, Beirut, CA… beheadings, stoning or shooting in the face of young girls who just want to go to school…

    President Obama is wrong (retaliation for “is right”)
    and the story isn’t art related.

  2. CNN has not been the gold standard for reporting in at least 10 years. The network produces infomercials and infotainment these days. Pablum. Do yourself a favor and change the channel.

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