Weekend

Required Reading

This week, blackness, distrust in media, the original instructions to Tetris, face tattoos, and contemporary women artists in Georgia and more.

Writing for Dezeen, Dan Howarth points out that Black Panther‘s Oscar win in the best costume category features outfits that use  3-D printed elements. “Among the elaborate costumes worn in the movie were a crown and huge shoulder mantle donned by Queen Ramonda, played by American actress Angela Bassett,” he writes. (via Dezeen)
  • A very depressing poll published by CJR with Reuters/Ipsos suggests that Republicans distrust the media more than Independents or Democrats. An incredible 60% of all respondents (54% of Democrats and 70% of Republicans) believe reporters get paid by their sources sometimes or very often. How is this possible? And this is how they get their news:

Though they exude an air of casualness, this array has been deliberately assembled and displayed as a pantheon. Finally, there is tone. The prints themselves are dark, sometimes so dark that information disappears: in “Pod,” McDonald’s young daughter sits at their dining room table plugged into a music player, slipping into the pool of blackness that drenches the bottom third of the image. Unknown what she’s listening to, but given the show’s context, chances are it’s not Taylor Swift that has her mesmerized. The show is filled with such images, portraits of black children and adults that convey blackness as person, as culture and also as color. White barely registers, except as a clean t-shirt or a crisp bedsheet, a minor element against which to contrast the richness of black.

JEZEBEL: I was reading an interview with you both where you had said that you two see art institutions and spaces as “some of the few places left for you to resist and build on the path to decolonial freedom.” Why would you say that art spaces and these institutions are one of the few places left for you to do that kind of work?

Nitasha Dhillon: Personally just from experience, I’m currently doing a Ph.D. in Media Studies and Amin also teaches as an adjunct. We’re both part of the university system and we started out as artists. I think it’s because for the work of decolonization, space, land, water, air—all of these things are extremely central, so actually having physical space changes everything. Historically, art institutions have opened up as spaces of refuge. Most of the time art institutions do claim to be political, specifically with the art that they curate, and of course, there have been historical inequalities as well; we know that from how institutions are structured, who governs them, who considers what is art, who curates art. It’s one of the places that we can think about decolonization. Not that decolonization can be obtained, it’s an ongoing process, but at least it’s a space where we can have a conversation.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the British government of Harold Wilson expelled the population of the Chagos Islands, a British colony in the Indian Ocean, to make way for an American military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island. In high secrecy, the Americans offered the British payment for the islands in the form of a discount on the Polaris nuclear submarine system.

On the backdrop of feminist art resurgence in the global context Georgian women artists also actively explore and express their feminist identities. By feminist art I imply works of art created by women on such important themes as are woman’s body, its perceived ‘weakness’ as seen by the society, violence against women, negation of gender stereotypes, our perceived intellectual inferiority, based on our so called ‘emotional’ approach to life. Fortunately, there are plenty of extraordinary women artists who tirelessly work on dismantling of such traditional and anachronistic notions be it in New York, London, Berlin, or Tbilisi, showing how much truth, honesty, and drive is present in women as well as in art they create. In this particular case I am not advancing the essentialist argument according to which women’s nature is inherently better then men’s, but merely underscoring how different is socialization for the two genders and how subsequently this affects their life goals and ambitions.

Face tattoos have been the subject of broad interest and scrutiny in the past year. Most notably, they’ve been picked up as a hallmark of those making SoundCloud rap — a genre best defined by the way it moves the escalation points of budding careers closer and closer together.

Face tattoos fuel this escalation, in that they make a new face instantly recognizable. On Instagram, in YouTube videos, in clips pulled out of YouTube videos to go viral on Twitter. They render the face a cross-platform commodity. For a boy with Benjamin Franklin tattooed on his face (and the SoundCloud logo on his arm), they connect the dots as he appears on an Instagram account with 2 million followers, then in a parody video that gets picked up on Twitter, and then on the cover of XXL’s prestigious “Freshman” issue. And they connect the dots between a nobody YouTuber and Justin Bieber.

Face tattoos are a centuries-old tradition in some indigenous cultures, most famously the Māori of New Zealand and their intricate swirling linework, but in Western culture, the association has long been jail, gang affiliation, or “deviance” of some kind. Boldface lettering denoted slavery in ancient Rome, and face tattoos made reference to criminality when they were popularized by men in American prisons in the 1970s. The best-known were gang symbols (often acronyms or numbers), records of time spent (cobwebs, clocks, dots), or acknowledgments of specific violent crimes, mostly murder (teardrops and crosses).

The broadcast site mgtv.com, a subsidiary of the Chinese company Mango TV, posted the speech following the Oscar ceremony on Sunday night, inaccurately translating the words “gay man” to “special group.” Malek won the Best Actor award for Bohemian Rhapsody, a film about the popular band Queen. Malek, in his speech, made reference to Queen singer Freddie Mercury, saying “we made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself.” The remarks also attracted the aforementioned criticism for Malek referring to Mercury as gay rather than bisexual.

This isn’t the first time Mango TV has come under fire for censoring references to the queer community. Last year, the broadcaster censored songs with references to homosexuality and blurred Pride flags during the Eurovision song contest. As a result, the telecom lost the right to broadcast the Eurovision festival.

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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