On meme reporting: “We know people are going to get in the door by seeing one clever piece of this whole story. So, how do we make sure that when we’re writing about this, that we’re providing context? We also need to think about who’s talking about it….Is this just a media Twitter thing? Or has it gone beyond that? Who’s talking about it?…Beware of bots. This was a really big problem in 2016 because we had meme bot accounts. So there were a lot of news organizations that were embedding memes from these bots and that’s not great. So we’re always checking. We’re like: Who’s tweeting it? Did they make it? Are they real people? And just thinking about those questions, which are the questions you ask as a journalist: Who am I talking to? What is their background? Can I trust them as a source?” 

Meanwhile, within Israel, members of Palestinian communities and their businesses in cities from Haifa to Lod, Akka, and Bat Yam, have become the targets of rampaging Israeli lynch mobs chanting “death to Arabs” and tagging homes and businesses for future attacks. Artist Inas Halabi has been documenting the crackdown by Israeli police on Palestinian street protests in Haifa, including the injury of a woman by a sound bomb, on her Instagram account. Lebanese artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, whose work frequently involves analyzing the sonic elements of violent encounters, then reprised some of Halabi’s footage to offer commentary about the mechanics of these weapons and the injuries it can cause. Hamdan has also shared and analyzed footage recorded by Zeina Dajani from Jerusalem, showing assaults by Israeli security officials on crowds of Palestinian protesters, including footage from the previous week of Israeli snipers on rooftops surrounding Al Aqsa Mosque shooting at protesting crowds.

In April, a little more than twelve months after the National Trust’s excavation of the giant, Phillip Toms, the University of Gloucestershire scientist, finished his analysis, and the results were not what anybody had expected: the figure was neither ancient nor modern in origin but, rather, was created in the murky centuries in between. The sample taken from the deepest layer of the giant dated from between 700 and 1100 A.D., most likely near the midpoint of that range, around the tenth century.

Mike Allen, the snail specialist, acknowledged that optically stimulated luminescence was a more definitive test than his own. He was astonished by the news that the giant is a late-Saxon or early-medieval creation. “No one, in any of the academic arguments and discussions and meetings and publications, ever considered him to be that date,” he told me. “It shows that we, as archeologists, are fickle and can be wrong.” The latest evidence also suggested that the figure, after being scraped into the chalk hillside, had at some point become overgrown, and remained that way for decades or even centuries, until it was re-dug. During this interregnum, the giant would have been detectable only as a shadow on the hillside, occasionally legible in certain conditions of light and vegetation growth. “He went to sleep,” Allen said.

  • David Carrier reviews three books that focus on Hungary-born French artist Simon Hantaï (The Modern Aesthetic by Paul Rodgers, Simon Hantaï and the Reserves of Painting by Molly Warnock, and Pablo Picasso/Simon Hantaï: Drama Shared, Cubism and the Fold by Paul Rodgers) for CAA Reviews. He has this to say about the recent trend towards expanding the “canon”:

Art critics often make large claims for a younger emerging artist, and art historians regularly add old master figures to the canon. Recent revisions to the canon have focused on art by women, by people of color, and, of course, from cultures outside of the Eurocentric world. And so, the claim that Hantaï deserves concentrated consideration is surprising. It may seem as if Rodgers is merely offering a modest extension of the canon, replacing Greenberg’s “modernist painting” with his own history of what he calls “modern art.” But, in fact, Rodgers’s claim for Hantaï’s importance is altogether more radical and challenging than that. The phrase “modernist painting” is associated with Immanuel Kant’s claim that this history involves the self-critical capacity of painting. But although Rodgers describes many of the same artists as Greenberg, he reads that history very differently. In a note at the end of Pablo Picasso | Simon Hantaï,he elliptically alludes to this implication of his inquiry when, quoting Nietzsche’s critique of Kant’s asceticism with reference to Stendhal’s famous description of beauty as “the promise of pleasure,” he asks: “Who is right, Kant or Stendhal?”. That great question deserves further discussion.

The scrappier cousins of the monographic books, compilation cookbooks are equally revealing in what they capture about artists’ lives at a particular moment in time and place. The paradigmatic example is The Museum of Modern Art Artists’ Cookbook, a spiral-bound collection of recipes and conversations with 30 notable painters and sculptors, published in 1977. The recipes range from Helen Frankenthaler’s elegant Poached Stuffed Striped Bass to Andy Warhol’s droll instructions for heating a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. It’s the perfect snapshot of old-guard seriousness and young-gun absurdity coexisting side-by-side, exactly as it did in the art world.

  • This is a very useful explainer about the Attica Prison Rebellion that took place in western New York state in 1971. It helps clarify not only the events during the uprising, but what lead to it and its important legacy today:
YouTube Poster
  • Last year, the city of New York gave many unhoused individuals a hotel room in hopes of curbing COVID transmission. Now, for The City, Claudia Irizarry Aponte reports on the impact of the initiative by speaking to its beneficiaries. This is from a person named Jefferson:

“Landing this hotel was a big change for me right there, this has been the biggest thing so far for me in my life. It’s opened my eyes to all the different possibilities in life.

“I went to work. I’m still doing my gigs in construction and like handymen work, and we’re selling tie-dye shirts on Second Avenue.

“But I also help out in the hotel — I sweep up the halls, I take out the trash. In the past year, I’ve shoveled snow, I’ve cleaned out graffiti.

“I do all that because I want to show management and all the people who are here that I’m clean, that I’m stable, that I take care of myself. That I can keep myself clean, I can keep my building clean. I try to show them that I’m fit to live here.”

There’s no doubt that Dogecoin mania, like GameStop mania before it, is at least partly attributable to some combination of pandemic-era boredom and the eternal appeal of get-rich-quick schemes.

But there may be more structural forces at work. Over the past few years, soaring housing costs, record student loan debt and historically low interest rates have made it harder for some young people to imagine achieving financial stability by slowly working their way up the career ladder and saving money paycheck by paycheck, the way their parents did.

Instead of ladders, these people are looking for trampolines — risky, volatile investments that could either result in a life-changing windfall or send them right back to where they started.

  • This title is too much (h/t M Charlene Stevens):

Wanna guess where a Nazi slapped cops with his colostomy bag? (It was at Kid Rock’s steakhouse)

Required Reading is published every Saturday, 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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Hrag Vartanian

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