Required Reading

This week, Kahn’s Salk Institute, problems at MASS MoCA, how should we support scholars who receive online harassment, using art to understand “homosexual” relationships in Ancient Greece, and more.

Kengo Kuma & Associates has unveiled their eco-friendly (and plant-covered) design for a hotel on the left bank of Paris’ river Seine. (via Dezeen)

The Salk has been responsible for major breakthroughs in neurobiology, genome mapping, and stem cell research. Elements of the design, such as the way natural light illuminates the underground labs through a series of courtyards and the open plan that requires members from different departments to circulate among study towers, have been cited by the Salk’s scientists as influential to their research.

But as the building neared the half-century mark, it was clear that certain aspects needed a more interventionist approach. “A lot of decisions weren’t made right away because Salk had run out of money to complete the project, so parts were unfinished for a long time,” says Ball. With scientists eager to move into their labs, some details of the design, like Kahn’s recommendation to add window flashings, were never implemented, leaving Ball’s team to contend with decades of leaks and water damage.

But it’s not that black artists and black art weren’t visible at the opening: there was a parade featuring dancers in Nick Cave’s Sound Suits, choreographed by Sandra Burton. Holley and DeDeaux gave a gallery talk, and the singer Helga Davis performed in the galleries as members milled around. And, to the delight of the overwhelmingly white crowd, the Brooklyn United Marching Band, an African American children’s group, gave an excellent, rollicking performance of Beyoncé hits. They were bussed in for the event, and bussed out after; as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, there was no particular logic to their inclusion in the program.

Furthermore — and I know that this might be controversial — if you know that a scholar is receiving abuse for an argument, and you want to critique that argument in good faith, I believe that the onus is on you to start off your critique by denouncing the abuse and differentiating your approach from that of the harassers. And if the bullied scholar responds to your critique in a way that you feel is unnecessarily defensive or thin-skinned, remember what they’re going through and give them more latitude than you usually would. If you aren’t prepared to take that approach, reconsider your motives for issuing that critique at that particular moment.

Some, no doubt, are thinking to themselves that Bond and I brought this on ourselves by writing about Classics and white supremacy. They are wrong. Nobody ever brings harassment or death and rape threats on themselves. Furthermore — and this is a crucial point — Bond did not argue what the far right is claiming she argued. (I likewise did not argue that classicists shouldn’t study canonical authors, although that argument is misattributed to me constantly.) She pointed out that groups such as Identity Evropa are using images of classical statuary, especially the Apollo Belvedere, in a way that recalls Nazi aesthetics. I’m not sure how any classicist can look at that poster and not feel horrified at its implications for our field, but that’s a topic for another day.

Connie Butler, chief curator, Hammer Museum in Los Angeles: “While the issue of the ownership of history and trauma is one we are seeing on many fronts, I believe there are issues here that are very particular to this case and to Native American history in this country. So while some may worry that museums will bow to community pressures of all kinds, I think that this is an instance where clearly the trauma being recalled and relived on the part of native people warranted the serious consideration that the Walker gave it. I think we can all learn from this. The issue that still remains to be worked through, and makes the reception of the work part of its history and impact, is the transference of the intellectual property back to the Dakota people. This will become part of a living archive of the work.”

Denise was, by some counts, the 39th child to be raped in the village of Kavumu, since the first was reported on 3 June 2013. Each time, men in groups had kidnapped a girl of between 18 months and 11 years old from her bed, raped her, and either returned her to her home or left her in a nearby field, which is farmed by demobilised soldiers. At least two girls have died from their injuries.

Although rape has been used as a weapon of war in this part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for 20 years, these attacks on children are new – in terms of the repeated patterns, the symbolism and the youth of the victims. At first, the cases didn’t appear to be related. But over time, as each abduction resembled the last in certain significant details – the way men entered the houses; the way the girls were taken, violated and returned or left in the same field; and the fact that none of the families woke up as men stole their children – investigators began to suspect that there was an organised ring behind the attacks.

Because the girls are so little, their organs are often irreparably damaged. Panzi hospital’s founder and medical director, Dr Denis Mukwege, said that he and his staff frequently weep while operating on the girls. Another doctor said the brutality of the rapes made her faint for the first time in her life. “When I treat a child with all her bladder and abdomen destroyed, I think, This is really not something I want to do with my life,” Mukwege told me. We were sitting at a long, plastic-covered table in a conference room at Panzi in January. He looked exhausted. “You are thinking about how you are just repairing and instead you should be preventing this.”

  • Getty curators David Saunders (Antiquities, Villa) and Bryan C. Keene (Manuscripts, Center) discuss male relationships in ancient Athens by examining three red-figure vases at the Getty Villa:

Paddington stows away and deliberately avoids the immigration authorities on arrival. He is in formal legal terms an illegal entrant and as such commits a criminal offence under section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971. It is an offence punishable by up to six months in prison. If or when detected by the authorities it is more likely he would simply be removed back to Peru than that he would be prosecuted, though. To avoid that fate he would need to make out a legal basis to stay.

Incidentally, for offering a home to Paddington — or harbouring him, as the Home Office would have it — Mr and Mrs Brown could potentially face prosecution under section 25 of the Immigration Act 1971, entitled “Assisting unlawful immigration to member State”. The maximum sentence is 14 years.

  • The Santa Fe Art Colony Tenant Association in Los Angeles, which is one of the oldest continuing art colonies in the city, is being threatened by rising rents. In March, the owners gave the residents sixth-month notice that rents will increase as much 80 percent and in some cases will double. KCRW reports:

Artists began moving to the downtown area in the 1970s to escape rising rents and dwindling studio space on the Westside. They built illegal lofts in abandoned warehouses and lived together in gritty, blighted neighborhoods that weren’t zoned for occupancy. To address the zoning and safety issues, the city created an Artist-in-Residence program in 1981, allowing artists to live in converted commercial properties and form the neighborhood that would become the Arts District.

In 1986, the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA) entered in a 30-year partnership with the owners of a defunct terrycloth-robe factory on Santa Fe Avenue to provide low-interest loans to retrofit the buildings and create rent-restricted artist lofts. The Santa Fe Art Colony was born and quickly became a fixture of LA’s art scene. Previous tenants included renowned artist like Kim Abeles and Sam Durant.

After receiving a one year extension from the city in September 2016, the agreement is now set to expire for the colony’s residents. Tidwell and the tenant association have asked city officials including City Councilmember José Huizar to help find a way to stave off the rent increase.

The gentrification of the Jewish Lower East Side has made headlines for decades and is often the subject of nostalgic anguish, with people recalling the way things were and telling stories of their grandparents who grew up there. Over time, many second- or third-generation Jews moved to Brooklyn or the suburbs. Dress shops closed, scribe masters relocated, yarmulke stores and kosher shops shuttered, family businesses faded, and the synagogues once dotting the neighborhood were decimated or flipped. By 2002, the New York Times declared this “primal homeland for American immigrant Jews has lost so much of its cultural texture and so many of its living touchstones that it may be time finally to pronounce it dead.” In 2008, the Lower East Side made the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places, a roundup of areas or venues threatened by neglect. 

Throughout all this, the Jewish Heritage Mural remained one of the few staying relics of the Lower East Side. It brightened up a drab section of East Broadway. It taught travelers a vital history. It was a source of pride. Many admired its endurance to withstand gentrification, but given the transient nature of murals, were not surprised by its eventual fate.   

  • A unpublished piece by Hannah Arendt was released to the public this week and it includes “thoughts on poverty, misery, and the great revolutions of history.” It’s an excellent read that is relevant to today:

All these revolutions, no matter how violently anti-Western their rhetoric may be, stand under the sign of traditional Western revolutions. The current state of affairs was preceded by the series of revolutions after the First World War in Europe itself. Since then, and more markedly after the Second World War, nothing seems more certain than that a revolutionary change of the form of government, in distinction to an alteration of administration, will follow defeat in a war between the remaining powers—short, that is, of total annihilation. But it is important to note that even before technological developments made wars between the great powers literally a life and death struggle, hence self-defeating, politically speaking wars had already become a matter of life and death. This was by no means a matter of course, but signifies that the protagonists of national wars had begun to act as though they were involved in civil wars. And the small wars of the last 20 years—Korea, Algeria, Vietnam—have clearly been civil wars, in which the great powers became involved, either because revolution threatened their rule or had created a dangerous power vacuum. In these instances it was no longer war that precipitated revolution; the initiative shifted from war to revolution, which in some cases, but by no means all, was followed by military intervention. It is as if we were suddenly back in the 18th century, when the American Revolution was followed by a war against England, and the French Revolution by a war against the allied royal powers of  Europe.

I didn’t come to the vendor area at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum’s World War II re-enactment weekend for the Nazi memorabilia. I came to see why thousands of people flock to an active airfield in Reading, Pennsylvania once a year to either re-live, or watch other people re-live, life across a world in chaos in 1943. I left 36 hours later having heard a lot of reasons: to honor veteran relatives, to honor veterans generally, to preserve history, to escape reality.

No one, except a few WWII fighters and an Auschwitz survivor, was there to remember the Holocaust. And no one gave a second thought to donning a German uniform, even though public displays of Nazism have been on the rise in the U.S. since right around last November 8.

  • One couple asked the internet to help them photoshop some shirtless guy out of their lovely pic and then the internet responded and made them a meme. Here are some of the images:
The rest are here.

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.

comments (0)