Weekend

Required Reading

This week, Shigeru Ban’s Mt. Fuji Center, Basquiat in London, the Met’s new admission policy, reviewing Trump’s border wall prototypes, the Library of Congress’s Twitter archive, and more.

The Shigeru Ban-designed Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center opened in Japan a few weeks ago. It is as stunning as one would expect. See more images on Design Boom. (via Design Boom)

This brings us back to the heroes of black masculinity, to Joe Louis knocking out Max Schmeling in the first round and Parker inventing bebop on the eve of the Second World War. These are Basquiat’s icons, but as bell hooks has pointed out, he cannot represent them as straightforwardly strong and heroic because they have to be mediated through the horrors of the present. Sugar Ray Robinson (1982) and Jack Johnson (1982) and the figures in King Zulu are half-formed, mutilated, scratched out to become negatives. Basquiat typically composed his figures from pure black pigment and added contours and features in white. For him, the black body comes to seem like more of a ground than the ground of the painting itself. The recursive, scribbled lines make the body into a sort of blackboard which the artist has doodled all over, like graffitists on the city streets. Twombly was famous for his blackboards covered in indecipherable white script – one sold for $70 million a few years ago, almost as much as Basquiat’s paintings now go for – but it was Basquiat who saw that the surface textures of our environment are never impersonal, even in a gallery, that people are written over too. His heroes are endlessly, illegibly inscribed.

COTTER That economic ruling class, for its part, could, and should, contribute to an open-door cultural policy. I think of a very small example of the possibilities: Thanks to earmarked donations by a single patron (the Rubins, of the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea) the Bronx Museum of the Arts was able to begin a free admission program for several years that the museum continues today.

Which leads me to wonder about the civic good will behind — and institutional wisdom in accepting — another example of donor earmarking: the $65 million patron-inscribed fountains recently installed (and critically panned) at the Met. If the museum’s figures are accurate, and the new mandatory policy for out of state visitors will bring in $6 million to $11 million a year in admissions revenue; the money spent on the fountains would have covered that income for a decade.

After this time, the Library will continue to acquire tweets but will do so on a very selective basis under the overall guidance provided in the Library’s Collections Policy Statements and associated documents (loc.gov/acq/devpol/). Generally, the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy.

What the prototypes didn’t resemble, in any practical sense, was a wall. (A swatch of fabric is not a shirt; a lone panel from an umbrella won’t keep you dry when it rains.) It wasn’t just that they suggested Potemkin slices, architectural stand-ins to match the human ones Trump’s campaign invited to the news conference kicking off his White House bid.

Because they’d been put up with gaps between them — the better to appreciate the differences from one design to the next — they offered no sense of enclosure or completeness. This gave the whole display a surprising and ironic twist: the way the prototypes were arranged struck me as emblematic of the limits of Trump’s border-security aspirations. They were prototypes of a wall that will likely, for practical reasons as well as political ones, always be as notable for its gaps as for its consistent protection.

Stephen Joyce has stopped countless public readings of his grandfather’s works and discouraged a generation of research. At one point, he told a prominent Joyce scholar that he was no longer giving permission to quote from any of Joyce’s work. He told one performer, who had simply memorized a portion of Finnegans Wake for an onstage presentation, that he had probably “already infringed” on the estate’s copyright, according to a 2006 New Yorker story. (The performer later discovered that Joyce did not have the right to block his performance.) Shloss herself recalls a conference where a scholar had Joyce’s words projected on a screen rather than risk pronouncing the words in a recorded session.

“It’s a breakthrough, not just for me but for everybody who has to deal with a literary estate,” said Shloss. “This has been going on for decades. Scholars are not wealthy people. We don’t have easy access to the legal system to determine and vindicate our rights if someone threatens us with a lawsuit. You just have to give in.

Social media sites in Germany could face hefty fines under a new law if they don’t act quickly to remove hate speech, fake news and other illegal materials from their platforms.

… Under the new law, sites are given 24 hours (or seven days for more “legally complex” cases) to investigate and delete illegal content after a complaint is received. Violators face fines of up to $60 million. 

  • You may have heard by now about President Trump’s “stable genius” tweet. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds, and doesn’t make most of us feel better that he has access to nuclear weapons. The Hill compiled some of the best responses on Twitter to the President’s words, and this might be the funniest:

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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