Weekend

Required Reading

This week, Warhol’s first self-portrait goes to auction, Sam Durant speaks about “Scaffold,” India’s problem with architectural preservation, Zadie Smith on black pain, the six people who created “Silence = Death,” and more.

Andy Warhol’s first photo booth self-portrait, “Self-Portrait” (1963–64), is going to auction at Sotheby’s London. Priscilla Frank writes: “Sotheby’s describes the piece as a ‘turning point,’ as it’s the first time Warhol incorporated his own image into his work.” (via Huffington Post)

Censorship is when a more powerful group or individual removes speech or images from a less powerful party. That wasn’t the case. The Dakota are certainly not more powerful, in political terms, or in terms of the international art world. I could have said at any point, “No, I want the work to stay up as it is, end of story. Walker, you deal with it.”

But I chose to do what I did freely. For me, it was that the work no longer fulfilled my intentions. I always hope my work would be in support of Native American struggle and justice. To hear that it was harming them, I felt terrible. I had to change it.

When [the mediation session] ended, the mood was good. From my perspective, I was like, “Oh, wow, I just did something that has never been done. And what does this mean? I hope I made the right decision.” I had those kinds of feelings. But as time went on, I know I did the right thing.

  • On the morning of April 24, Delhi’s architecture community was shocked that, in the middle of the night, the city’s Hall of Nations and the four Halls of Industries had been demolished. The Hall of Nations was the world’s first and largest-span space-frame structure built in reinforced concrete. It also holds special significance in India’s postcolonial history — it was inaugurated in 1972 to commemorate 25 years of the country’s independence. Here are some thoughts on the tragic history of architectural preservation in India (images below):

The demolition was met with widespread condemnation by architects and historians alike, not just because of the loss of an important piece of Delhi’s heritage, but also for the clandestine manner in which the demolition was conducted.

… There are two significant questions that beg to be asked at this point. First, how in a city with several heritage preservation agencies does a situation arise where the judiciary is left to make calls on the fate of structures widely viewed as having heritage value? Second, what exactly constitutes the architectural heritage of a city with a history spanning more than two millennia?

The origins of Silence = Death, which stands alongside We Shall Overcome, Sí Se Puede, We Are the 99%, and #blacklivesmatter as a touchstone of social justice movements, can be traced to a New York diner in 1985. Nights earlier, Socarrás recalls, he was “walking down Broadway towards Astor Place and having this irresistible impulse to throw myself on the sidewalk and pound my fists on the ground. I had to stop myself. I wanted to wail to heaven.” Over the previous few years he had lost so many men he loved that he stopped writing down their names after his list reached 100. That night, he remembers, he “watched that potential scenario [play out in my mind] and thought, ‘I can either do that or I can try to do something with this energy.’ ”

He reached out to Finkelstein, whose boyfriend had recently died, in hopes of connecting with someone who could empathize. They made a plan to meet, and Socarrás invited his friend Johnston to tag along. The three bonded over how their straight friends, as caring as some could be, had no comprehension of what gay men were going through during the epidemic. “It felt like we were in a movie,” Finkelstein remembers. “The depth of field shifted and everything went out of focus, because I felt so engaged by being able to talk publicly about something that no one else talked about publicly.”

Not everyone knows this, but the park was named after the cover of a 1987 U2 album that featured a shaggy Yucca brevifolia. None of the band members are wearing sunglasses in the cover photo, and they all look a bit grumpy, like someone wasn’t paying attention and they missed the exit for In-N-Out. Today, they would be hungry for something more vegetarian. Joshua trees have a shallow root system, not unlike the travellers blown here by wanderlust, and can be found scattered across the desert floor. Bono can be found—I don’t know. Davos, maybe?

Please go ahead and take a free foldout map of the park. These circles denote areas where you might like to park your Gulf Stream, climb on the roof, and extend your arms to the heavens, backlit by a solar flare. These circles are toilets.

But there is an important difference between the invented “nigger” of 1963 and the invented African American of 2017: The disgust has mostly fallen away. We were declared beautiful back in the Sixties, but it has only recently been discovered that we are so. In the liberal circles depicted in Get Out, everything that was once reviled—our eyes, our skin, our backsides, our noses, our arms, our legs, our breasts, and of course our hair—is now openly envied and celebrated and aestheticized and deployed in secondary images to sell stuff. As one character tells Chris, “black is in fashion now.”

To be clear, the life of the black citizen in America is no more envied or desired today than it was back in 1963. Her schools are still avoided and her housing still substandard and her neighborhood still feared and her personal and professional outcomes disproportionately linked to her zip code. But her physical self is no longer reviled. If she is a child and comes up for adoption, many a white family will be delighted to have her, and if she is in your social class and social circle, she is very welcome to come to the party; indeed, it’s not really a party unless she does come. No one will call her the n-word on national television, least of all a black intellectual. (The Baldwin quote is from a television interview.) For liberals the word is interdicted and unsayable.

Last weekend I covered the opening of an exhibit at our historical society that pays tribute to a school desegregation saga that unfolded here in the 1950s; the event honored surviving members of the African American community who lived through a chapter in local history too long ignored. A big crowd, white and black, was on hand. Steps toward racial harmony happen even in Trump country.

While Trump carried Highland County heavily, there are people here who did not vote for him and who do not care for him. But overall, despite the avalanche of negative news stories, Trump’s support remains firm. Hillsboro’s mayor mentioned recently that he has noticed Trump yard signs popping up again, either in a show of support or a sign of defiance.

“I believe the influence of the military and security industry on the shaping of the [EU’s] border security policy is quite big, especially on the securitization and militarization of these and on the expanding use of surveillance technology and data exchange,” Stop Wapenhandel’s Mark Akkerman told Common Dreams. “Industry efforts include regular interactions with EU’s border institutions (including high ranking officials and politicians), where ideas are discussed that later turn up in new EU policy documents.”

“For example, the industry has been pushing for years to upgrade [EU border agency] Frontex to a cross-European border security agency,” Akkerman added. “The new European Border and Coast Guard Agency the European Commission has proposed, which has a lot more powers (has its own equipment, direct interventions in member states, binding decisions forcing member states to strengthen border security capacities) than Frontex has now, is exactly that.”

“If the establishment of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency proceeds,” the report notes, “this would mean a fundamental shift to an EU-controlled system of border security, with the possibility of bypassing the member states and forcing them to strengthen controls and purchase or upgrade equipment.”

“It is not hard to predict that this will lead refugees to use increasingly dangerous routes, strengthening the business case for traffickers. For the military and security industry, however it means the prospect of more orders from the agency itself and from member states,” the report continues.

  • The protests against what people are calling Trumpcare started this week, by ADAPT and other important activist groups. This image of Dawn Russell in DC has already come to represent the spirit of the protests:

The 19 projects in the High Line Network represent a number of different adaptive reuse projects in various stages of progress, including Rail Park, a plan to turn three miles of disused railway in Philadelphia into a linear park; the Bentway, a proposal for a cultural hub beneath an expressway in Toronto; the 11th Street Bridge Park, a pedestrian walkway that will span the Anacostia River in southeastern Washington, D.C.; and Buffalo Bayou Park, a Houston initiative to make the city’s waterways accessible to the public. The inaugural group of members joined by invitation, based on some of the relationships the High Line had formed over the years.

While the projects vary in type, scope, and location, what unites them is an attempt to remake heavy-duty infrastructure into public space. Cities no longer have swathes of open space to build parks from scratch as they did 100 years ago, and the very definition of a park has changed. Cities now have to be more clever about where they find opportunities for public space. Because public space is in short supply–and real estate is expensive–these spaces have to pull double and triple duty to serve their communities. Meanwhile, cities have whittled their parks’ budgets down to virtually nothing, so securing development and long-term maintenance financing becomes a challenge.

Women’s debt inequity is compounded by the gender pay gap; college-educated women working full-time earn 26% less than their male peers – and the gap widens over time.

The reasons for the income inequality vary, from job discrimination, to interrupting work due to childbirth. Whatever the cause, as the researchers explain: “When you combine higher debt with lower incomes after graduation, you get a recipe for financial hardship.”

Even with a degree, the debt burden can make it impossibly hard to navigate other challenges, from pursuing further graduate education, start saving for a future home or your own business, or leave an abusive relationship.

By the early 90s, some cities were having a “circuit party” every weekend, in places like the Roxy in New York, Probe in Los Angeles, clubs in San Francisco. Then it began expanding abroad, in places like Montreal and Europe, with the opening of megaclubs like Heaven in London.

By 1992, the Miami White Party had become famous because celebrities discovered South Beach. This is where the Latin influence came in as well. In 1996, arch-conservative Representative Bob Dornan, a Republican from California, condemned on the floor of Congress a party held at a federally-owned ballroom for the main event of the annual Cherry Party.

No question, the 90s were halcyon days for the circuit. Parties spread to mid-sized cities, like Cleveland’s Dancing in the Streets; Detroit’s Motorball; Louisville’s Crystal Ball. Most couldn’t sustain themselves. The circuit had reached saturation. People wanted to save up for the really big events—like White Party Palm Springs and the Black Party in New York—that were spectacular. The other parties would come and go.

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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