Weekend

Required Reading

This week, a couple’s de Kooning secret, Milton Glaser brands Trump’s “Space Force,” A. K. Burns’ first public sculpture, art in a state of emergency, African contemporary art since 1992, and more.

Milton Glaser was one of eight designers asked by Bloomberg Businessweek to come up with branding for Trump’s new “Space Force” and the results are entertaining. Glaser explained his design (pictured here): “The image represents the relentless intrusion of our president in every aspect of our lives and future. The image can be read as his next conquest or simply that there is very little inside that skull.” See them all at Bloomberg. (photo courtesy Bloomberg Businessweek, patch designed by Milton Glaser)

The story of Burns’ first public sculpture is one of controversy because the work engages how gentrification has led to queer erasure in the neighborhood. It’s also a story about manipulation, one that shows just how vulnerable artists are to the financial whims of cultural institutions who often take advantage of their ethical brands.

The history of Hingetown follows a common gentrification narrative. “Hingetown” itself never really existed. That name was a marketing ploy created in 2013, a rebranding exercise to attract real estate investors to an otherwise undesirable location built alongside a six-lane freeway and a housing project called Striebinger Block, wedged between Cleveland’s Warehouse District, the Market District, and Gordon Square.

Make MOCA free. Admission income between 2014 and 2016 averaged about $800,000 annually, according to tax filings — peanuts against a $19-million operating budget and in relation to a board of trustees as wealthy as this one. With no admission charges, the big, buzzy attendance successes at the UCLA Hammer Museum in Westwood and the Broad museum downtown should be a model. Is a couple with two teenagers who all get in free at the Broad really expected to then cross Grand Avenue and drop $46 on MOCA admission? Not gonna happen, so just open the doors.

Jerry Alter’s sister, Carole Sklar, told the New York Times that the idea that her brother, his wife, or their son could have stolen the painting was “absurd,” as was the theory that her brother disguised himself in women’s clothing.

“I can’t believe Rita would be involved in anything like that,” Mark Shay, one of her former co-workers, told the Daily Press. “I could see them buying a painting not knowing where it originally came from, maybe.”

Museum officials, however, told the Arizona Republic that the painting only appears to have been reframed once during the 31 years it was missing, suggesting it had only had one owner during that time.

Something else doesn’t add up. Jerry and Rita Alter worked in public schools for most of their careers. Yet they somehow managed to travel to 140 countries and all seven continents, documenting their trips with tens of thousands of photos.

Why does this relationship between art and activism—artist and activist—seem so fraught when it could be so companionable? Art and activism are similar sorts of vocations—that is, they are all-encompassing commitments to a certain kind of life. They are prostrate to higher values, motivated by desire for impact.

But there are logistical difficulties. Activism’s time requirements and group-based processes are often at odds with the quantities of alone time an artist needs to work. And until we manage to bring the revolution, the volunteer nature of so much movement work will continue to exploit artists, an already notoriously underpaid group. Artists are undervalued further by activism’s anti-elitist, everyman ethos, which often translates to an aesthetic illiteracy, and means that the relative powers of a skilled artist over a hobbyist may not be recognized or rewarded in movement spaces.

In many cases, these early studies of online participation reflect a utopian characterization of the early internet as “fandom writ large.” These studies have generally not aged well. It is no longer the broadcast media industries that concern most internet scholars, but data-mining operations, government surveillance, and huge platforms like Google and Facebook. And while in 2010, Clay Shirky was unable to come up with a harmful form of user-generated content—instead picking the “LOLCat” as the lowest form of online creation44—the current moment has brought into stark relief just how harmful user-generated content can be. Regardless, what the active audience and participatory paradigms suggest is that it is not enough to see how many people were exposed to a fake news story or YouTube video; we must understand what these viewers do with it.

“It is a long-held French fantasy: that the language can somehow match, or even overtake, English as the world’s preferred tongue,” writes South African–born Financial Times language columnist Michael Skapinker. “People choose a language for the same reason bank robbers rob banks: because that is where the money is. There may be people who learn French to take up Mr Macron’s offer of the chance to study in France. But there will be many more who learn English.”

Voting systems in Wisconsin, a key swing state, can be hacked, security experts warn

… Five top elections experts told the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism that Wisconsin’s voting systems are vulnerable. Some pointed to the Voting Machine Hacking Village demonstration last July at DEFCON, the annual cybersecurity conference held in Las Vegas. Hackers were set loose on more than two dozen voting machines used in the United States.

“By the end of the (four-day) conference, every piece of equipment in the Voting Village was effectively breached in some manner,” according to a report released after the conference. “Participants with little prior knowledge and only limited tools and resources were quite capable of undermining the confidentiality, integrity and availability of these systems.”

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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