Weekend

Required Reading

This week, Sam Gilliam, art as an asset class, John Waters at Mary Oliver’s bookshop, Ai Weiwei on Hong Kong protest, the radical black history of techno music.

Hayri Atak Architectural Design Studio has designed a concept for a boutique hotel within a cliff edge in Norway that includes a cantilevered glass swimming pool and it’s impressive. More images at Dezeen (via Dezeen)

Considered a master in the third wave of Color Field painters, Mr. Gilliam has spent much of his career in Washington, where he first started to experiment with unsupported canvases. His signature draped and beveled-edge paintings, which are suspended from the ceiling or stretched across beveled frames, were considered a radical reimagining of the medium. In 1972, he became the first black artist to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale.

Yet, despite his early success, Mr. Gilliam has never been represented by a New York gallery. Arne Glimcher, the founder of Pace Gallery, attributed that to the artist’s nonconformist sensibility, saying the artist has “really steered his own career and steered it clear of what we know as the art market.”

The target market is gallery owners who need inventory financing and wealthy collectors without private banking services who might want to indulge themselves with more art — or have more prosaic concerns. Snyder describes one potential borrower as a guy “who had a big tax bill and said, ‘Geez, I don’t want to sell anything, but I’ve got to pay the tax.’”

Snyder said he has been the largest investor in the fund while 25 others have bought in, with a minimum investment set at $100,000, well below the $500,000 minimum of a typical hedge fund. “You don’t have to be Richard Branson,” he says proudly.

John Waters: When I worked for Mary Oliver and Molly Malone, I could only work when it rained because that’s when the stores got crowded in Provincetown. Wherever I was, if it started raining, I’d run to work. They also said I could take any book for free if I sold them. It was so smart, because this was in the 60s when everybody stole everything, so I didn’t steal. Also, I read everything and that’s how I got my education. It was like going to college . . . since I didn’t even go to school. I learned from working there, yet I sold all the books I read and liked. It was worth it. It was a really smart thing to do, from a management’s viewpoint.

Ai: I have had some art activity in Hong Kong. It is a society with a special, modern energy. At the same time, I do feel that art in Hong Kong should be much more aggressive or make a more global impact. Hong Kong still benefits from being the most international city in Asia. It has a strongly educated population. The city needs more art that reflects its energy, hope, and imagination.

RELATED: How Hongkongers deal with tear gas:

The Spartans, popular wisdom tells us, were history’s greatest warriors; in fact, they lost battles frequently and decisively. We are told they dominated Greece; they barely managed to scrape a victory in the Peloponnesian Wars with wagonloads of Persian gold, and then squandered their hegemony in a single year. We hear they murdered weak or deformed children, though one of their most famous kings had a club foot. They preferred death to surrender, as the legend of the Battle of Thermopylae is supposed to show—even though 120 of them surrendered to the Athenians at Sphacteria in 425 B.C.E. They purportedly eschewed decadent wealth and luxury, even though rampant inequality contributed to oliganthropia, the manpower shortage that eventually collapsed Spartan military might. They are assumed to have scorned personal glory and lived only for service to the city-state, despite the fact that famous Spartans commissioned poetry, statues, and even festivals in their own honor and deliberately built cults of personality. They all went through the brutal agōgē regimen of warrior training, starting from age seven—but the kings who led their armies almost never endured this trial. They are remembered for keeping Greece free from foreign influence, but in fact they allied with, and took money from, the very Persians they fought at Thermopylae.

Hearing about techno as it was originally conceived—as a reaction to inner-city decay, as byproduct of African-American struggle, as a form of protest — served as a crucial reminder of the roots of this dance music, and that the name Underground Resistance was in no way a euphemism, but a reality. To the outsider — in this writer’s case, a white teen from the suburbs of Texas — it might be hard to conceive of the oft-wordless techno as revolutionary music; by the time I started hearing it in the early ‘90s, it certainly wasn’t the relentless sound of Underground Resistance. At that nascent stage, Detroit techno (and Chicago house) was being packaged and presented as the smiley-face music of Berlin, Madchester, and Belgium — the sound of Europeans and Ecstasy. Rather than Marshall Jefferson’s “Move Your Body”, my generation was instead indoctrinated with its Belgian rewrite, Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam”. Even then, techno’s blunt force was being lightened.

Through interviews on three continents with more than 30 individuals—activists, national security experts, relatives of the forcibly disappeared, and American, European, and Middle Eastern government officials—a clearer picture has emerged about the extent to which Saudi authorities have gone to imprison, repatriate, and even murder countrymen who dare to protest the kingdom’s policies or somehow malign the image of the nation. On these pages are the stories of eight recent abductees—and those of four others who managed to elude capture—part of a systematic program that goes far beyond the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi campaign is ruthless and relentless. And it has more similarities with, say, the codes of a crime syndicate than it does with those of a traditional, modern-era ally of the United States of America.

You mentioned #MeToo before – was this work in response to that movement?

This was already in the works when the #MeToo movement started. But it started at an opportune time for us because we were able to say: “You can’t say these things are not happening. It’s all over the media.”

Today half of Gaza’s population live in poverty and two-thirds either can’t afford or don’t have access to nutritious food in sufficient quantities. More than half are unemployed. To cope, local women say they buy cheap foods in small quantities, often with borrowed money, and cook it over firewood. Saad sends me a photo of her fridge: it is mostly empty, the few items on the shelves melting or rotting because of power outages.

Saad’s husband is employed by the Palestinian National Authority, the body that has governed Gaza since 1994, and works in public health. His salary has been cut but because he has a job his family receives no food aid. They live pay cheque to pay cheque, yet Saad considers her family is among the lucky ones. She plans the rare costly dish ingredient by ingredient, she says. This week she has makhshi koosa in her sights: fried magda squash stuffed with spiced ground beef and pine-nuts in a fresh tomato sauce. She will buy the vegetables, then wait until she has the money to buy a little beef. “Maybe Friday…”

Ethiopia Plants 350 Million Trees in One Day to Combat Drought

Queens had an overall bumpy transition to borough-hood. There was resistance to consolidation on several fronts: for instance, Patrick “Battle Axe” Gleason, the mayor of Long Island City who had failed in his bid to become mayor of the newly enlarged New York, decided the merger was unconstitutional and refused to leave office. And the new Borough of Queens consisted of only half of the old Queens County; for a year, the two jurisdictions awkwardly overlapped, with the county government having no real authority over the city portion, where the majority of its population lived. (The rural rump was eventually reorganized into Nassau County.) That lack of a coherent pre-consolidation Queens identity, most people will tell you, is why those original towns and villages are still used as names by the Postal Service.

There’s a few wrinkles in this explanation. The first is that Queens wasn’t the only county full of smaller divisions to join New York in 1898. The Bronx didn’t have any sort of pre-consolidation unity, not even as a county: the western portion had been grafted onto New York from Westchester County even before consolidation, in 1874, when it became known as “the Annexed District”; only after another chunk of the Westchester had been gobbled up in 1898 did the mainland portion of the city come together as a distinct separate entity. Staten Island was divided into five different towns at the time of consolidation; as late as 1929, the Harvard Alumni Directory gave Staten Island addresses that included the name of an individual community (e.g., “73 Miles Ave., Great Kills, Staten Island, NY”), which you would never see written out that way today.

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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