Weekend

Required Reading

This week, Lewis Hine’s child labor images, assessing Artforum’s #MeToo fallout, New York’s most “toxic” museum boards, the rise of the right on YouTube, dissecting an Instragram influencer, and more.

The Library of Congress’s Flickrstream is something you should always check, because they post really gems like this photograph by renowned photographer Lewis Hine of three young boys smoking in 1910 St. Louis, MO. There are many more images by Hine, 76 so far, on their feed that captures his extensive work documenting child labor in the US. (via LOC’s Flickrstream)

Which institution might wind up in the crosshairs next? We looked at the makeup of various museums and ranked whose ties make them likely targets of outrage. “There is no perfect way” to sort out whom to take money from, says the head of one institution that has started doing donor-background checks with “one of the world’s leading data-mining firms.” Activist groups like Decolonize This Place want structural changes, not merely what they call “a closed-door committee adjudicating the boundary between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ money.” Artist Andrea Fraser, the author of 2016 in Museums, Money, and Politics, which compiles trustees’ political donations, says, “Targeting particularly toxic individuals risks missing the forest by focusing on a few rotting trees,” advocating that museums clean up their boards by democratizing them, eliminating the pay-to-play contribution requirements. But without increased government support, how will the arts be paid for? As Gross puts it, “Even if you disagree with someone’s politics or you think they’re utterly deplorable, if they’re willing to give great gobs of money to expand your cultural institution, is it right to refuse that?” The activists think so. As Decolonize told us, “We savor the fact that these violent oligarchs are now sleeping with one eye open, and we would welcome further action against them (Kenneth Griffin, Nancy Carrington Crown, Pamella DeVos, we see you!).”

Over hours of interviews with Velasco, along with interviews of former and current staffers and conversations with more than a dozen editors and writers both within and outside of Artforum, it became clear that Velasco’s story is not the familiar fairy tale of an iconoclastic, charismatic young editor in chief making his mark on media and culture by taking over a magazine. Nor is it solely about the #MeToo movement’s success at ushering in a new and more diverse generation of tastemakers who have no tolerance for men who use their power to exploit.

Rather, Velasco’s appointment speaks to the efforts of a calcified institution to find a new way forward from complacency and silence. The question is, can a veteran of that institution lead sincere reform?

I developed and proposed the memorial in the service of those women and men who were stolen, sold, and worked to death to create the wealth of the nation. I proposed it to alter the Faneuil Hall marketplace into a site of contemplation of an atrocity against black people. I proposed it because part of the goal of the BostonAIR program is to have contemporary artists engage with the city.

I went through the appropriate channels with the Boston Art Commission, securing the many approvals needed to begin the process of arranging public discussion of the proposed memorial. I reached out to many artists, historians, architects, educators, civil rights activists, the Freedom Trail Foundation, and curators — some of whom consented to be on the advisory board for the project. A public hearing was scheduled for July 23, and I was looking forward to beginning the larger public discussion that is necessary in the creation of a public memorial.

And as a staunch supporter of the constitutional right to snap your fingers and make half of the universe disappear, I look at a tragedy like this — wherein a very disturbed individual snapped his fingers and made half of the universe disappear — and I wonder… how does something like this happen?

And while our thoughts and prayers are with Thanos’ victims (half of the people we know and love), the truth is that a horrific incident like this just makes me more thankful to live in a country where the Constitution protects not just Thanos’ right to snap his fingers and make half of the universe disappear, but also your right to do it, and mine, too.

The Second Amendment is clear: the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Granted, when the Founding Fathers wrote that amendment, they understood an “arm” to be a musket, which, if you were a practiced expert, could fire (at best) maybe three or four rounds a minute. But don’t you think that they probably kind of also assumed “arms” would eventually mean that any American or intergalactic Titan, if he or she so chose, could if snap their fingers (which are attached to the arms) and instantly wipe out 50% of life on the planet? If you read — actually read — the Constitution, I think you definitely get this vibe that they saw this kind of situation coming.

This report presents data from approximately 65 political influencers across 81 channels. This network is connected through a dense system of guest appearances, mixing content from a variety of ideologies. This cross-promotion of ideas forms a broader “reactionary” position: a general opposition to feminism, social justice, or left-wing politics.

When viewers engage with this content, it is framed as lighthearted, entertaining, rebellious, and fun. This fundamentally obscures the impact that issues have on vulnerable and underrepresented populations—the LGBTQ community, women, immigrants, and people of color. And in many ways, YouTube is built to incentivize this behavior. The platform needs to not only assess what channels say in their content, but also who they host and what their guests say. In a media environment consisting of networked influencers, YouTube must respond with policies that account for influence and amplification, as well as social networks

She may not be selling flat tummy tea, as the Kardashians do, but she is selling an illusion—that one can be good at their craft, and live well off it, by posting on Instagram all day, having a camera roll with hundreds of selfies, and doing not much actual work at all. Like McFarland, she is banking on people’s desire to have a lavish lifestyle and have millions pay attention to it. That’s the scam. The difference between her and McFarland is that she hasn’t managed to trick big investors (other than her former book publisher) into biting. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t had an effect.

When Calloway announced her latest event on Instagram, I was immediately intrigued, especially because, in an apparent attempt to repurpose a term journalists and many people on the internet have used in reference to her botched tour, Calloway named the event “The Scam.” The cost remained $165, the same as the creativity workshops she canceled. I was going to the workshop, eager to get scammed myself.

  • The diabolical minds at the SF Chronicle mapped the destruction of San Francisco in Hollywood films so you can see if one of your favorite buildings was destroyed in the film. It’s pretty entertaining and we need the same for New York. Needless to say, living near the downtown waterfront seems dangerous. Here’s Godzilla’s path of destruction in the 2014 film:

  • An essay on Henri du Lubac, a French Jesuit priest who became a cardinal of the Catholic Church and is considered one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century. This essay considers his long history of anti-racism and fighting prejudice of all types:

The theological foundations for de Lubac’s anti-racism were outlined in his 1938 book Catholicism. There he argued that God sought to heal the divisions among the human race caused by sin and to regather human beings into a true unity. The church is the communio sanctorum, both the means to the unity of the human race and the visible sign of that unity, albeit incomplete this side of eternity. Racism, therefore, is not merely a moral failure. It strikes at the foundation of Christian doctrine.

At Google, there is a long tradition of Easter eggs, which have the full support of the company.

“It helps establish software as an art form, following in the footsteps of painters and musicians and craftspeople sneaking little jokes and references into their work for literally centuries,” said Dan Sandler, who works on the Android smartphone software.

Mr. Sandler has built an eggy surprise into every version of Android since 2011. For the current version — Android P — he created a secret painting app.

“One of the themes in the P release was ‘digital well being,’ the idea that you should be able to choose a balance of screen time and non-screen time,” he said. “In my paint app, over time, the strokes you draw fade away to nothing, like a Zen drawing board.” (He notes that you can tap the hourglass to pause the timer, “if you must.”)

There’s no Save command, either. “This is another Zen thing: Don’t cling to your creations,” he said.

In the Google Maps division, the best-known Easter egg appeared on March 10, 2018. It was International Mario Day (Mar10, get it?), celebrating the goofy Italian plumber from Nintendo’s video games.

  • A project called Celebrating Indigenous Languages was created to honor the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages. It allows you to navigate Google Earth and listen to the word of speakers of these endangered languages:

  • No comment (though I might now start drinking Monster drinks):

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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