Required Reading

One of the new sculptures by Tim Noble and Sue Webster in their current show at London’s Blain|Southern gallery. (via Colossal)

This week, Nobel prize controversy, artists do science, Creative Time Summit fallout, Ai Weiwei in DC, the ethics of vandalizing art, and more.

 This week, the Nobel prizes have been announced, yet a controversy in the category of literature, which went to Mo Yan, continues to brew. Mo is a member of the Chinese communist party and has never been known to be critical of the Chinese authorities, and as a result, renowned artist Ai Weiwei said the Nobel’s honoring of Mo is an “insult to humanity and to literature.”

The criticism from Ai and others may have had an impact on the 2012 Nobel winner, who later urged for the release of imprisoned 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Many worried that Mo’s award was being used by Chinese authorities as a way to brand about their official culture. Even the Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times praised Mo’s award as a sign of Western acceptance of mainstream Chinese culture.

The issue continues to be a thorny one in China and elsewhere, and the Associated Press reported that:

… searches for “Liu Xiaobo” or “Nobel Peace Prize” were being censored on Chinese search engines and social media sites, but looking up “Mo Yan” or “Nobel literature prize” was allowed.

 What’s hotter than the intersection of art and science? Don’t answer that. But this book invited 75 artist to illustrate some of the “wondrous mysteries of science,” including why we sleep and dream, what causes depression, how long trees live, and why humans are capable of language. The images are quite lovely.

 The always intelligent Mira Schor has her take on the recent Creative Time Summit in Manhattan. The essay is full of observations about the artist boycott, and she takes issue with a number of things, including the tone of the affair, some of the more light-hearted tweets, and the hyperbole of the organizers.

I don’t share her view on many of these things, since I actually think those less serious aspects helped to make the event more accessible and engaging (particularly for some of us who sat through the whole thing), and less academic, which I think is a good goal considering the topic of social justice should appeal to a wider audience. I’m reminded of a tweet during the conference by artist William Powhida, who when artist Steve Lambert was presenting, seemed to have the realization that, “We aren’t Steve’s audience for his work. Truth.”

 Sarah Sulisto of Big Red & Shiny reviews the new Ai Weiwei show at the Hirshhorn. She writes that the show foregrounds the artist’s activism, and that’s a good thing:

In positioning his activism as the leading premise of his work and not detaching it from his role as an artist, the curator, Mami Kataoka, has produced a show that well-suits the political climate of D.C.

 The Brandeis Art Museum almost feel off the face of the earth a short while ago but now it’s back with some hard hitting programming, including a presentation of work by artist, Dor Guez, whose work “largely centers on narrating the experiences of the Arab citizens of Israel.” In an interview last fall, the New York Times writes, he said his work sought to “deconstruct the Zionist master plan.” This is a fascinating story.

 A small luxury floating village is taking shape in Scotland and it looks quite impressive.

 An interesting consideration of the ethics of vandalizing art.

 The Art Newspaper points out that a number of contemporary artists, including Jenny Saville, Yan Pei-Ming and Luca del Baldo, have created portraits of the dead Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. But the article doesn’t do anything to answer the question of why? Dictator fetish? Shock art? Nothing else to paint?

 What is the role of women in Saudi contemporary art? Elizabeth Dickinson has the story for The National:

When the founders of Alaan Artspace, Riyadh’s first contemporary art gallery, were planning their inaugural show, it dawned on them that nearly everyone involved was a woman. It was symbolic, they realised, for more than just their gallery.

 And finally, Pando Daily’s Sarah Lacy writes that the first generation of blogs were about speed and the devaluing of content and now everyone wants better New Yorker-style content, and that’s proving more difficult to achieve than many thought — she explains why. She credits this shift partly to the fact that more tech companies are being born in New York, a city that values the quality of content, rather than Silicon Valley, which is a place dominated by programmers and not content creators.

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and it 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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