Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
Editor’s Note: It has been a while since we’ve added to our Worst.Press.Release.Ever. column. Thankfully (or is that unfortunately), Emily Colucci finds a worthy (unworthy?) addition.
Walking into the Marianne Boesky Gallery’s summer exhibition I Bleed Black, the first work I saw was a small drawing of actor Michael Urie, best-known for his role in the television series Ugly Betty. I knew I was in trouble.
However, the art was not even the most worrisome part of the exhibition. The bizarrely academic language in the gallery press release made me want to tear up the sheet of paper in front of the sweet-looking gallery assistant.
Maybe it’s just me but I feel like recently there has been a rash of press releases from galleries that are so academic that they are barely comprehensible. I think galleries need to reevaluate what they want visitors to get out of their press releases.
Made up of mostly Marianne Boesky employees from art handlers to registrars, I Bleed Black features a range of artistic mediums and focuses such Elizabeth Miseo’s ceramics and Nicholas Brooks’s installation of a video of a woman masturbating that is housed in a black plastic tent inside the gallery with a sign “Adults Only.”
I was at first curious about the origin of the seemingly goth title “I Bleed Black.” Some googling led me to a song by the LA doom metal band Saint Vitus. It also led me to countless sites declaring “I Bleed Black and Gold,” which being Pittsburgh-born and-raised made me wish the show was about Pittsburgh sports fanaticism.
Even though it was not about bleeding black and gold, I’m still not sure what “bleeding black” has to do with any of the works in the show. The press release is no help, reading as one of the most confusingly academic press releases I’ve ever come across.
Originally, I was supposed to review the actual art in the I Bleed Black exhibition but being fairly unremarkable, the totally irritating press release overtook the show.
Having spent two years in an interdiscplinary Master’s program, I can recognize when the writer is using terms like “societal pressure” and “societal norms” to cover the fact that they’re not saying much of anything. The press release reads:
Emphasizing the power of the individual, I Bleed Black suggests the working artist’s struggle to overcome or transcend the outside factors inherent in society, religion and politics. The individual, steadily seeking an evolved state of being, attempts to create only for himself and deny the influences of the outside components that are inherent in the duties or responsibilities of the day to day.
Um … what?
Stating nothing about the art itself or the artists involved, the press release has paragraph after paragraph repeating the same thing about the artist’s struggle between personal expression and everyday social norms.
Having written a few press releases in various internships, I question who this is written for. The collectors? Art historians? Art critics? I have no idea.
As shown in other articles I’ve written, I don’t particularly like when the art in the exhibit can’t back up the lofty language in the press release but this is just absurd, considering I’m not exactly sure I understand what is meant by “steered by an ambition that manifests itself in the routine of the everyday.” I’m also not sure what it has to do with Ethan Minsker’s book Rich Boy Cries for Momma.
In the end, I became so frustrated with trying to figure out the meaning of the show that I walked out of the gallery and began to explore the street art surrounding the closed Chelsea galleries.
One work that caught my eye were these works by RAE on 22nd Street, reminding me of two-dimensional drawings of Alexander Calder’s wire sculptures of faces. More exciting and even more art historically relevant than the works in I Bleed Black, RAE’s multiple drawings did not need an unintelligible press release to promote their worth.
So to all the gallery press release writers, please stop the overly academic language that sounds like you are trying to up your word count for a college essay.
Marianne Boesky Gallery’s I Bleed Black closed on September 1, 2011. Lucky you.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…