Protest march against bigotry and hate speech in Minneapolis, Minnesota (October 6, 2016) (photograph courtesy Fibonacci Blue via Flickr)

Hyperallergic has, since its inception more than a decade ago, particularly sought out the voices of those art makers, curators, organizers, and critics who swim against the tide of long-held, popular belief. We’ve always welcomed opinions from those working in or adjacent to the art scene who insightfully recognize how a particular exhibition, event, policy, or initiative will impact those of us whose lives focus on art — especially when these events or policies are contested from their inception.

Now we live in distinctly turbulent times where much in the art scene is contested, and should be. We are currently facing several crises that are founded in inequalities of agency and power and refracted through the prisms of socio-economic class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, physical ability, the kind of labor we perform, the kinds of institutions that employ us, and our place in these institutions. These crises are provoking public reckonings that quickly become ardent, tumultuous, and at times messy. Finding clarity and purpose in these moments has to be a group effort. Turning these crises into opportunities to reimagine and remake the art scene into a domain that is sustainable, equitable, and generous requires open, public dialogue. We want to now be more consistent in soliciting our readers’ opinions so that this dialogue can be rich and nuanced.

Toward this end, I’ve been named Hyperallergic’s opinion editor. This is a call to reach out to me with your viewpoints, sentiments, reflections on all the developments that move the art scene. We want opinions that encourage and cultivate thoughtful debate, and make it possible for others to see aspects of an exhibition, policy, or initiative that we had not considered before.

Good examples of these are:

  • Jillian McManemin‘s polemic against the preservation of toppled monuments which in her words would “allow them to continue to exert their power as objects, to uphold the ideas they stand for.”
  • Kambole Campbell’s opinion piece called out the silly and self-aggrandizing responses by some white liberals and corporations, particularly in terms of protests such as Blackout Tuesday. Campbell entreats his readers, instead of making “meaningless conciliatory gestures” to: “Don’t just say you hear us; do something. Don’t just support Black people when it’s making headlines; support them all year-round.”
  • Lise Ragbir breaks down the meanings and implications of the term “decolonization” which has several layers: governance, repatriation, and representation. She explains that it ultimately means “an opportunity for colonized people to become of primary importance and envision the future on their own terms.”
  • A museum director herself, Betsy Bradley takes museums to account insisting that each institution must first personally reckon with itself: “The question, then, is not what do we say, but are we relevant?”
  • And Christina Riggs looks at how museums have changed their policies around the display of ancient human remains, and shows her readers that the situations of mummies and tsantsas should compel us to think beyond the simple oppositions of dead versus alive. Rather these objects have a “rich social existence … within their communities.” These are all great examples of writing that can move us toward clarity.

The Opinions page means to not only reflect our reader’s thoughts and feelings about the issues of the day. It also means to be a way to do the work of forging collaborative insight. I believe this is the only insight worth having.

Please submit ideas for your opinion pieces using our submissions form under the category of “Opinion/Op-ed.”

Seph Rodney, PhD, is a former senior critic and Opinion Editor for Hyperallergic, and is now a regular contributor to it and the New York Times. In 2020, he won the Rabkin Arts Journalism prize and in...

One reply on “Have an Informed Opinion About Art? We Want to Hear It”

  1. Two suggested topics

    1) I would love to see a robust discussion the ethical use of sensitive visual symbols and icons. I use cultural icons a lot in my videos. (

    The well-worn concept that an image is worth a thousand words is still true – but not necessarily the same words. I would love to get a perspective on the cross-cultural consequences of visual symbols and icons generated in one culture, then appropriated, re-contextualized, memed, and troped into meaning something different in another. Currently, I feel symbol-based language has been embraced because it lacks nuance. It supports cultural branding under the misleading idea of universally shared values – a kind of stylistic “ Esperanto”. They support instant gratification, the sound bite tag lines our news feeds have trained us to accept. Yet the proliferation of interpretations from multiple cultural sources creates an opposition to any form of black and white clarity. So how to ethically use this visual language?

    2) The problem with a virtual Self – In the pandemic more and more personalities are being pushed online. With little opportunity to mediate face to face, the politically correct, self-consciously curated persona on social media runs the risk of reducing the complex individual to a trope. Zygmunt Bauman, called it “the production of distance”. However, now it’s a literal – not a perceptual – detachment in which we no longer have the opportunity to see the other. A ‘slippage’ between reality and performance can occur which can all too easily slide into unthinking prejudice from all sides of the equation.

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