Weekend

Required Reading

This week, Lorna Simpson collages, two very different stories about Saudi art, the politics of photo sharing, Dia:Beacon satire, Detroit Techno history, Trump as Charlie Brown, and more.

One of the 150 collages in the new book Lorna Simpson Collages, which comes out early next month through Chronicle Books. The volume contains an artist’s statement and an introduction by poet, author, and scholar Elizabeth Alexander who explains, “Black women’s heads of hair are galaxies unto themselves, solar systems, moonscapes, volcanic interiors.” More at Colossal (via Colossal)

THE MEDICIS IN THE DESERT” by Nicolas Pelham

Ahmed Mater and Ashraf Fayadh were best friends. One is now Saudi Arabia’s most illustrious artist and cultural commissar. The other languishes in a dark prison. Nicolas Pelham charts their rise and fall

In the fall of 2016, two American pop cultural icons became unwitting touchstones in the discourse surrounding the contemporary relevance of data. Naturally, I’m speaking of Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump, both reality-TV celebrities and entrepreneurs.

Wolfe was wrong to mock Modernism as purely utilitarian, and to let its worst abuses speak for the entire genre. And it was unfair for him to blindly abhor any style that eschewed ornament. His attack on Louis Kahn’s Yale Art Gallery as resembling an “underground parking garage,” and yet another form of “worker housing” is just one of Wolfe’s many lyrical but crude misrepresentations of the movement’s deep art and soul.

Still, Wolfe’s ear should not be underestimated, especially his still-timely attacks of the profession’s often unrepentant elitism. What Wolfe got right—and it’s a criticism that still rings true today—is his skewering of what can be an insular, snotty, tone-deaf culture, from the almost religious zealotry of the early days of Modernism to now. He ceaselessly mocked the “theoryspeak of contemporary architecture,” which still renders the profession opaque to most outsiders.

The high middle ages were a time when the stars aligned in terms of commerce for many areas of the world. In central Europe many German and French cities initiated annual trade fairs, some of which are still active today – most notably in Frankfurt. The Europeans have redeveloped a demand for eastern goods as a result of the crusades in Iberia and the Levant. The Italian city states and some north eastern Iberian cities had shipped the crusaders back and forth in the Mediterranean sea, building up huge fleets and setting up networks of trade all around the Mediterranean shores. The Italians frequented ports such as Alexandria, which had separate trading ports for muslim and christian ships.

This time saw the rise of the Sahelian cities, just south of the Saharan Desert. These cities became the worlds’ leading exporters of gold which stimulated all the markets of Afro-Eurasia. It is from these cities that Mansa Musa (Keita I) would later depart on his famous Hajj. The gold was mainly transported northward to the North African coast across the Saharan Desert. An eastward trade network towards Egypt and Sudan started to grow during this period.

Moving more eastward the Fatimids of Egypt and the Abbasids of Iraq are both trying to funnel the lucrative trade through the Nile and the Euphrates respectively. The Nile would eventually prove to be the better option since the Persian Gulf was starting to get a reputation for its notorious pirates.

  • The New Yorker nails it:

Dia:Beacon Rebrands as Ideal Date Spot for Couples Who’ve Been Dating for Two Years and Have Nothing Left to Say” by Steven Phillips-Horst

This article addresses the complex conceptual framework of Drexciya, an electronic music duo from Detroit who established an origin myth based on the Middle Passage, the route for ships carrying enslaved African people from one geographical location to another across the Atlantic Ocean. Whereas the origin myth of Plato’s Atlantis ends in a permanent submersion into the sea, the world of Drexciya begins with the creation of an underwater country populated by the unborn children of pregnant African women thrown off of slave ships. Drexciya exists as a sonic third space characterised by embedded myths, the construction of culture and the invention of tradition.

Palestinians are tired of conversations about our barbarism and irrationality. We’re trying to survive exclusion and privation. We have no time to beg Zionists for approval. And we have no desire to appease disingenuous anxieties. We too have a right to live. We too should enjoy the pleasures of dignity. I cannot appeal to the conscience of my accusers because they refuse to listen, another benefit of power. I can only hope that readers whose sense of humanity transcends the narrow interests of a nation-state will reject this culture of defamation.

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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