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The North Pole Igloos hotel offers these attractive looking accommodations in Svalbard, Norway. They bill themselves as “The Most Exclusive Travel Destinations [sic] on Earth” and the world’s northernmost hotel. According to their website, the accommodations include a “camp manager, arctic wilderness guide, chef services and security.” See more images at My Modern Met. (via My Modern Met)

  • While I dislike this article, which seems to oversell the rehang promised to us at the Museum of Modern Art’s reopening, it is the only one that has emerged to give us a glimpse of what to expect, so I’m linking (the New York Times is known to do the bidding of the city’s museums so take it with a grain of salt). Will it be transformative? I’m not holding my breath considering the museum’s history. As Seema Rao commented on Twitter, “When you’re used to intellectual hegemony, vague complexity feels like real diversity.” I guess we’ll have to wait and see:

Now, though, Picasso had new company, younger, from across the Atlantic. Ann Temkin, MoMA’s chief curator of painting and sculpture, and her colleague Anne Umland, a Picasso specialist, were introducing the “Demoiselles” to a large painting of a race riot by the Harlem-born artist Faith Ringgold. Called “American People Series #20: Die” (1967), it shows white and black Americans, blood-spattered, clinging to one another for safety, their faces contorted in a similar manner to Picasso’s damsels.

Ms. Ringgold painted “Die” after countless visits to this museum as a young artist, studying the “Demoiselles” and Picasso’s later “Guernica,” which hung here before returning to Spain. Ms. Temkin’s department bought “Die” in 2016, showing it at first in a hallway — and now the curators were scrutinizing it alongside MoMA’s most renowned canvas.

Pairing Picasso with a black American artist from the 1960s would have been unthinkable here 15 years prior; it shatters the museum’s chronological spine, and magnifies the colonial and sexual violence inherent in the African-influenced “Demoiselles.” But there was a problem: Between these two propulsive canvases, the smaller Cubist works were getting lost.

This transformation would be repeated, more rapidly and often more disastrously, in one country after another. As the price of cooking oil tumbled, food became oilier. Fast foods, snack foods, and carbonated beverages swept across the world, and more calories (but not healthy nutrients) came in these unsatisfying forms. Mexico, which serves the behemoth US food market and has been infiltrated by American food companies in turn, shows those effects especially strikingly. The percentage of the population classed as overweight or obese has nearly doubled, from 33 percent in 1988 to almost 60 percent a mere 10 years later but without an equivalent increase in healthy nutrients, as women in all weight percentiles showed equal propensity for anemia. The rest of Latin America, China, and India are also undergoing rapid change. Everywhere, people are consuming more calories (500 more per day than 50 years ago), in forms that are energy-dense but nutrient-poor, creating the phenomenon of the overweight malnourished—who, in a world addicted to a language of choice, are then blamed for their own illnesses. Westerners too readily think of Africa as the locus of famines, but—though food shortages are very real—the continent is a place where most people still eat a staple cereal and a lot of unrefined foods, making it a last home of healthy diets in terms of quality. But African diets, too, are worsening, as beverage companies work to get coolers and sodas into every village shop.

  • The head coach of the Kansas City Chief football team, Andy Reid, had a doozy of a quote this week after they beat the Detroit Lions, and I think art lovers will find the quote amusing:

“Not all of Mozart’s paintings were perfect,” Reid said. “The end result, though, is that sucker’s gonna sell for a million dollars.”

One of the university’s aims—if increasingly crowded out by others—is the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. If this alone were the goal, admissions might be based solely on academic promise, which grades and test scores reflect in a limited and imperfect way. But this is not the only mission. To many, universities today are “supposed to be the engines of social mobility and the gateways to dreams,” as New York Times columnist Frank Bruni colorfully puts it. This suggests universities should consider who would benefit most from admission. More prosaically, many universities manage several semiprofessional sports teams, for which they must recruit, necessitating a preference for athletes. And prestigious universities, in particular, have historically been finishing schools for the hereditary elite, a role that introduces criteria that favor the wealthy and powerful. This last role is distasteful to many, but it is hard to deny that it figures in elite admissions decision-making.

These roles can be complementary, but they are often in tension. The elite status that powers the “engine” of social mobility for the select few is in part a consequence of academic excellence. But it is also, in larger part, the result of networking with privileged young people who already enjoy the benefits of wealth and family connections. The effect of this preprofessional social networking—the chance to rub shoulders with and learn the habits, customs, and social mores of people whose success is guaranteed by their inheritance and their parentage—is powerful.

The recent and unfortunate statement by Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, “In Defense of Nuance,” defends and affirms the condition of domestic warfare popularly known (though misnamed) as “mass incarceration.”  (The “mass” of “mass incarceration” is not an undifferentiated cross-section of the US demography, but is in fact a targeted, profiled, carcerally segregated population that reflects the nation’s racial chattel and racial-colonial foundations and their present tense continuities.)  We should be clear that Walker’s missive ignores, dismisses, or otherwise trivializes and caricatures a thriving and growing body of abolitionist scholarship and collective praxis that is rigorously challenging the cultural and political premises of policing, criminalization, and incarceration as normalized protocols of gendered racist state violence in the United States and elsewhere.

What would our debates about fiction look like, I sometimes wonder, if our preferred verbal container for the phenomenon of writing about others was not “cultural appropriation” but rather “interpersonal voyeurism” or “profound-other-fascination” or even “cross-epidermal reanimation”? Our discussions would still be vibrant, perhaps even still furious—but I’m certain they would not be the same. Aren’t we a little too passive in the face of inherited concepts? We allow them to think for us, and to stand as place markers when we can’t be bothered to think. What she said. But surely the task of a writer is to think for herself! And immediately, within that bumptious exclamation mark, an internal voice notes the telltale whiff of baby boomer triumphalism, of Generation X moral irresponsibility…. I do believe a writer’s task is to think for herself, although this task, to me, signifies not a fixed state but a continual process: thinking things afresh, each time, in each new situation. This requires not a little mental flexibility. No piety of the culture—whether it be I think therefore I am, To be or not to be, You do you, or I contain multitudes—should or ever can be entirely fixed in place or protected from the currents of history. There is always the potential for radical change.

  • A fascinating article about the origin of the word “latinx” and why some want it discontinued. I had no idea about the origin of the term “latino”:

The very idea of a “Latin America” and “Latin” people comes from the French intellectual Michel Chevalier, who sought to create an umbrella term in the late 1800s in order to unite colonial subjects under a generic “Latin” identity. In doing so, Chevalier hoped to assist Napoleon III in expanding the French empire. Chevalier hoped that if he could convince Mexicans to adopt a “Latin” view of themselves, they would be more inclined to ally themselves with French interests.

  • Today, Michael Stipe releases his solo debut “Your Capricious Soul” with an accompanying video by filmmaker and photographer Sam Taylor-Johnson:

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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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.