Required Reading

This week, Google’s new HQ designs, Georgia O’Keeffe’s modern life, building Trump’s crazy border wall, the enduring life of zines, Rauschenberg’s goat, and more.

Google revealed the latest designs by BIG and Heatherwick for its new California headquarters, and they include a large tent-like structure that will help divide the rooms below into rectilinear “pavilions.” (via Dezeen)

The Brooklyn Museum’s new Georgia O’Keeffe show is being greeted by reviewers as an unusual take that raises many questions:

There’s every reason to be skeptical of an exhibition that includes the artist’s shoes, and it’s hard to imagine Living Modern being mounted 20 years ago. The whole notion just sounds so trivial, so material, so sexist, so utterly beside the point. But O’Keeffe is a confounding case. Just as she was maturing as an artist, she became entangled with Stieglitz, as lover and companion, yes, but also as subject. His photographs of beautiful young O’Keeffe were artistic exploration, and they were collaboration (she feels like the co-author of those photographs). But it’s impossible to ignore her beauty, her nudity, her exposure. The clothes on view here, designed or modified by the artist, are a riposte to the Stieglitz photos (too many of which end up in the show). They’re testament to the fact that Georgia O’Keeffe, Inc. wasn’t something Stieglitz dreamt up.

Many people think the Met Museum should undertake a wider search for its new leader, and one opinion piece by Liza Oliver makes the argument for a female director:

Unfortunately, at least one report indicates that the Met’s trustees may already be looking at Daniel Weiss, the current president and chief operating officer, as Mr. Campbell’s replacement. It is surprising that an institution whose innovative curatorial departments have lately acknowledged the diversity of the art canon with exhibitions on Kerry James Marshall, Nasreen Mohamedi and the early modern global textile trade, to name a few, remains so myopic in its hiring at the highest levels of administration.

Should we be upset that nearly 200 construction and engineering firms are interested in building Trump’s border wall?

Several corporate titans, among them Raytheon, a defense contractor, and Caddell, a construction company with a global portfolio, have expressed preliminary interest in building the wall. Leo A Daly, an international architecture and engineering firm, was one of the more prominent design firms listed. Dozens of companies described themselves as minority owned, veteran owned, or small disadvantaged businesses. Nineteen of the interested vendors are woman-owned companies, and 15 are Hispanic American owned.

The curious story of Robert Rauschenberg’s famous goat sculpture:

The tests revealed that the goat contains traces of arsenic, “which is toxic and not uncommon to find in natural history collections as a protective measure against insect and other pests,” Bundgaard says, adding that the discovery will affect safety procedures. In fact, the fear of pests reportedly is the reason that MoMA’s former director, Alfred Barr, declined collector Robert Scull’s offer to acquire the work for the New York museum in the 1960s. In 1964, it was snapped up for the Moderna Museet by its then director Pontus Hultén, which Borchardt-Hume describes as a “keen advocate of American art”.

Alexandra Lange has some critical words about New York’s Second Avenue subway, including this zinger:

This is not the subway as a work of art, but a subway saved from dullness by works of art.

All you need to know … “This Dance Troupe Performs with Lasers in Their Butts“:

Prancing around art galleries with a laser in your butt could be seen as silly, or a cheap gimmick to demand viewers’ attention. However, curator Mette Woller—who included Young Boy Dancing Group in an exhibition called “The Curves of the World” at Chart Art Fair in Copenhagen late last summer—explained to me that this seemingly outré act is deliberate. “They challenge notions of gender and sexuality and constantly question institutionalized settings,” she asserts. “It makes you either cry or get offended.”

Why the internet didn’t kill zines, by Jenna Wortham:

In theory, the maturation of the internet should have killed off the desire for zines entirely. The web is a Gutenberg press on steroids, predicated on free software platforms created by companies that invest considerable sums to lure people to their sites and make exactly the kind of content I craved growing up. Millions, maybe hundreds of millions, of posts are published to social-media sites each day. And yet somehow, it can feel impossible to engage with new ideas, even as our compulsive inability to stop scrolling exposes us to an unending stream of new content. Yes, you can catch tweetstorms on Twitter, watch someone’s life unfold on Instagram, do deep dives into hashtags on Tumblr or watch video diaries on YouTube that explore diverse perspectives, but the clutter of everything else happening at the same time online can make it difficult to really digest and absorb the perspective being offered.

Which might be part of the reason zines never disappeared — and are even available in abundance in 2017. A few months ago, I walked into a Laundromat in Brooklyn where a former cellphone kiosk had been transformed into a feminist queer shop called the Troll Hole. I was thrilled to find it stocked with the same kinds of small booklets I consumed in college, though much better designed and produced. They contained nonbinary coming-of-age stories, photo essays featuring gender nonconforming people of Latin-American descent, trans Muslim narratives, first-generation essays, fat-positive imagery. I scooped up as many as I could rationally read in one sitting.

Researchers at UC Berkeley have confirmed what many of us knew all along, namely, “Police often provoke protest violence“:

“Everything starts to turn bad when you see a police officer come out of an SUV and he’s carrying an AR-15,” said Nick Adams, a sociologist and fellow at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Data Science who leads the Deciding Force Project. “It just upsets the crowd.”


Adams said many law enforcement agencies aren’t aware that they set the tone of a protest and end up inflaming it.


His team reached its conclusions by analyzing Occupy protests in 192 U.S. cities in 2011. The researchers sifted through thousands of news reports about the protests, which were sparked by concerns over economic inequality, and isolated patterns of violence and their apparent causes.

The future was yesterday:

The reactions by celebrities to the Academy Awards error last week are really funny:


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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