OpinionWeekend

Required Reading

Is photographer Tyler Shields just ripping off other photographers? Vice's Jamie Lee Curtis Taete considers the question. Left, Tyler Shields, 2014. Right, Sally Mann, 1989. (via Vice)
Is photographer Tyler Shields just ripping off other photographers? Vice’s Jamie Lee Curtis Taete considers the question. Left, Tyler Shields, 2014. Right, Sally Mann, 1989. (via Vice)

This week, rip-off photographer, questions about the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Erdoğan vs. Chomsky, David Bowie’s favorite artists, the Tinderization of emotions, and more.

 What ambition:

Half a century ago, the Hall of New York State Environment in the American Museum of Natural History was not only the future of museum design, but also, one man hoped, the future of democracy itself.

 Art F City investigates Toronto’s Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MoCCA) and its new move. They find some curious things, including:

The biggest blow to programming came in June with the formation of a programming committee. The committee included three members from the board: artist Joanne Tod, the Gladstone Hotel’s “Chief Alchemist” Christina Zeidler and art critic Randy Gladman. (Despite repeated attempts to get in contact with the board, AFC’s interview requests went unanswered.) Lee, then assistant curator for MoCCA, wasn’t told who spearheaded the initiative, and even though she was tasked to research and develop all of MoCCA’s 2016 programming, was given no directive. “When I asked the committee for some clarity on why the committee was formed, I did not get it. I asked for a mandate, they asked me why I wanted that, and I said, ‘so I can be clear as to how I am accountable to you.’ That was not really given to me.”

It sounds like a mess. I hope they update this as things develop.

 Turkish President Erdoğan and US professor Noam Chomsky have been having an interesting back and forth recently. The Turkish leader directed a message at Chomsky and others, saying:

I have a message for those academics. Just putting your signature on a dry piece of paper means nothing. Come to Turkey.

Chomsky can see what is taking place in Turkey with his own eyes, not through the eyes of a fifth column. Let those academics come to Turkey — I’m certain we will be able to show them the true picture.

Chomsky shot back that Erdoğan was a hypocrite:

Turkey blamed Isis [for the attack on Istanbul], which Erdoğan has been aiding in many ways, while also supporting the al-Nusra Front, which is hardly different. He then launched a tirade against those who condemn his crimes against Kurds — who happen to be the main ground force opposing Isis in both Syria and Iraq. Is there any need for further comment?

 This incredible design project, Refugee Republic, demystifies a Syrian refugee camp and allows you to get to know the people and their daily life:

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 In a 1998 interview, David Bowie talked about this favorite visual artists:

Michael Kimmelman: You studied art in school. You even started collecting early.

David Bowie: Yeah, I collected very early on. I have a couple of Tintorettos, which I’ve had for many, many years. I have a Rubens. Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to own. It has always been for me a stable nourishment. I use it. It can change the way that I feel in the mornings. The same work can change me in different ways, depending on what I’m going through. For instance, somebody I like very much indeed is Frank Auerbach. I think there are some mornings that if we hit each other a certain way — myself and a portrait by Auerbach — the work can magnify the kind of depression I’m going through. It will give spiritual weight to my angst. Some mornings I’ll look at it and go: “Oh, God, yeah! I know!” But that same painting, on a different day, can produce in me an incredible feeling of the triumph of trying to express myself as an artist. I can look at it and say: “My God, yeah! I want to sound like that looks.”

MK: I wouldn’t associate you with a painter like Auerbach.

DB: I find his kind of bas-relief way of painting extraordinary. Sometimes I’m not really sure if I’m dealing with sculpture or painting. Plus, I’ve always been a huge David Bomberg fan. I love that particular school. There’s something very parochial English about it. But I don’t care. I like Kossoff for the same reason.

 Why are this year’s Oscar acting nominations so white? (Yes, they really are.) A.O. Scott offers his thoughts:

Last year, Vin Diesel boldly predicted that “Furious 7” would win the Academy Award for best picture, “unless Oscars don’t want to be relevant, ever.” It may be that the irrelevance of the Oscars is, as the saying goes, more of a feature than a bug. The Academy looks after what the literary scholar James English calls “the economy of prestige” while franchises like the “Furious” movies look after the economy of actual money. Given the global, multicultural nature of the modern movie audience, this means that more commercial movies are very often more diverse.

The shocking — or maybe not so shocking — whiteness of this year’s field of nominees exposes not only the myopia of the nominating body but also the deep structural biases of the industry that feeds it. The Oscars have, since the century began, done a reasonably good job of recognizing black talent, belatedly making up for decades of neglect. “12 Years a Slave” won best picture. Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Halle Berry, Forest Whitaker and Mo’Nique all collected statuettes for acting, as Geoffrey Fletcher (“Precious”) and John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”) did for screenwriting. But somehow (and I hope we can shed some light on exactly how), these victories, in the larger context of Hollywood racial politics, can smack of tokenism rather than real change. Spike Lee’s lifetime achievement award feels like belated and inadequate compensation for a career’s worth of slights. At the movies, we may be in the age of “Chi-Raq” and “Straight Outta Compton,” but the Academy is still setting the table for “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

 Writing for The New Inquiry, Alicia Eler and Eve Peyser consider the Tinderization of feelings, looking at the dating app as a millennial tendency towards emotional detachment:

Tinderization is the millennial’s version of zoning out. Vulnerability is scary and potentially dangerous. Immediacy is comfortable and safe. Avoiding confrontation, often in the form of “ghosting,” becomes a substitute for relaxation. If you don’t follow up about a second date, a late night booty call might still be in the cards, another Tinderized form of intimacy. Swipe right, match, date, fuck, unmatch, rematch, repeat.

… Tinderization facilitates chill. But it achieves this through depletion as much as through saturation. So many choices become too little energy.

 When Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz tried to slur Donald Trump with the term “New York values,” what exactly was he trying to do?

New York is a city, not a slur. Graig Nettles didn’t succeed in baseball because he was quiet and a hard worker, but because he had forearms the size of hams and legs quicker than a panther’s. But Red Barber’s dig at the Big Apple works now as it did then: as a dog whistle, a way to elevate white American life above the gritty urban fabric of the country’s biggest city.

 How to cover the 1%, according to Michael Massing of the New York Review of Books:

As a number of the above examples suggest, much of today’s philanthropy is aimed at “intellectual capture”—at winning the public over to a particular ideology or viewpoint. In addition to foundations, the ultrarich are working through advocacy groups, research institutes, paid spokesmen, and—perhaps most significant of all—think tanks. These once-staid organizations have become pivotal battlegrounds in the war of ideas, and moneyed interests are increasingly trying to shape their research—a good subject for a new website. As The Washington Post reported in 2014, for instance, the Brookings Institution, long known for its “impeccable research,” has in recent years placed more and more emphasis on expansion and fund-raising, “giving scholars a bigger role in seeking money from donors and giving donors a voice in Brookings’s research agenda.” In one example, Brookings in November 2012 was visited by a lawyer representing Peter B. Lewis, the billionaire insurance executive who toward the end of his life embraced the cause of legalizing marijuana. Before the visit, the think tank had done little work on the issue, but soon after, the Post reported, it “emerged as a hub of research” supporting legalization, with prominent scholars offering at least twenty seminars, papers, or Op-Ed pieces. Before his death in 2013, Lewis donated $500,000 to Brookings, and two of the scholars involved said they knew he was their benefactor.

Think tanks are also being targeted by foreign governments eager to shape their research to reflect their national interests. As The New York Times reported in 2014, these contributions have “set off troubling questions about intellectual freedom,” with some scholars saying that they “have been pressured to reach conclusions friendly to the government financing the research.” Norway for example committed at least $24 million over four years to an array of Washington think tanks, transforming them “into a powerful but largely hidden arm of the Norway Foreign Affairs Ministry.”

 While people are focusing on the white militia occupying federal land in Oregon, many others have been asking what would’ve happened if the occupiers were black. Well, in 1979 a group of black people, who had a legitimate reason to occupy the federal land, was removed in three days. Their story demonstrates the extent of the double standard of the law in the US:

In 1979, 40 members of People Organized for Equal Rights set up camp on a federal nature preserve south of Savannah, Georgia — where their ancestors had lived for generations.

A white plantation owner had deeded the land to a former slave after the Civil War, and other freed slaves and their descendant moved to the area — known as Harris Neck — to live, work, fish and farm for decades.

That all came to an abrupt end in 1942, when the U.S. military took over Harris Neck through eminent domain and gave residents three weeks to leave.

Black landowners were paid significantly less for their land than white landowners in the area, the newspaper reported, and the government destroyed the houses, factories and farms they had built.

 Hallie Bateman examines women “looking” in museums:

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 The harrowing story of Haitian exiles in the Dominican Republic:

People of Haitian descent make up by far the largest ethnic minority in the Dominican Republic, though estimates of their numbers vary widely, from half a million to more than a million, out of the country’s population of 10.4 million. Some were born there, some immigrated, others move back and forth along the mostly unmarked and unguarded border. They are all lumped together in the Dominican imagination as, simply, haitianos, and many of them make up an underclass that is the backbone of the country’s labor force, tending its farms, cleaning its floors, building its houses and skyscrapers, staffing its all-inclusive resorts.

 Why gay-borhoods are being priced out:

Even if incoming LGBT populations have sometimes proved to be the thin end of a pretty thick wedge of gentrification, it’s important to remember that they often make their choices for different reasons than straight neighbours. Their choice of where to live is not limited by money alone. As Michaels, a transplant to New York from rural Oregon who still subsists on a below-average income, puts it: “I didn’t leave the country[side] because I wanted to, I was pushed out. As a queer person in America growing up in the country, I did not find rural areas to be safe, welcoming or financially viable – it was only in the cities where I was able to make a stable income. Even now, if I left, I’d be taking a huge blow for my community, and I’d have fewer options when it comes to partnership.”

Practical barriers have also encouraged LGBT people to seek out cheaper, less obviously desirable areas. Well into the 1980s it could still prove difficult for non-traditional households to secure a mortgage. Those with the means were thus more likely to look for housing that was cheap enough to buy outright: for example, in 1950s Soho (for gay men) and the Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, of the 1960s and 70s (for lesbians). Being less likely to have children has also given LGBT people greater flexibility to move, given that the quality of local schools is often less important. There’s far more to this clustering than mere economic pragmatism, however. LGBT people have typically congregated in big cities because communities that accept them have proved so elusive elsewhere.

 An analysis of Donald Trump’s use of language:

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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