- Erin Thompson writes about the fact that the US Capitol is filled with racist depictions of Native Americans for Time magazine:
One of these sculptures, carved in 1826-1827 by the Italian artist Enrico Causici, is a gruesome scene showing the explorer Daniel Boone stabbing a Native American warrior. Another warrior lies dead beneath their feet, filling the entire bottom of the rectangular panel. Soon after the work was installed, then-Rep. Tristam Burges, sarcastically commented that it “very truly represented our dealing with the Indians, for we had not left them even a place to die upon.”
The Boone panel is one of the first four sculptures made for the Capitol after it was rebuilt following its burning by the British in the War of 1812. The other sculptures show a Native American man offering corn to Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock, Pocahontas saving John Smith, and William Penn shaking hands with a Native American to close a deal to exchange land for gifts. In 1842, then-Rep. Henry Wise claimed that Native Americans visiting the Capitol had observed how well these sculptures showed the history of relations between them and settlers: “We give you corn, you cheat us of our lands; we save your life, you take ours.”
- Philosopher Hannah Kim writes for the LA Times about “fictional truth” and how conspiracy theories (like the ones around the vaccine) can fill a void:
While trying to reason with a relative this past Christmas, I realized the microchip conspiracy theory — that COVID vaccines contain “the mark of the beast” signaling alliance to Satan — also met powerful psychological needs. One wants to be in control, chosen and special, “awake” during End Times while others “sleep.” Many of my relatives and their friends are Korean immigrants with limited English, had difficult childhoods, unhappy family lives or face financial hardships. Sensational spiritual beliefs make them feel secure in ways life has not.
I’m fed up with anti-vaxxers. But I see that cults and conspiracy theories get something right about our needs. We all need something or someone to tell us that we are in control or, at the very least, that we’re OK. And for some people, that means embracing disinformation and false theories because they appear to offer answers or explain things we don’t understand.
- More reporting on the strange evolving relationship between celebrities and NFTs. Elizabeth Lopatto writes for the Verge:
Because celebrity marketing is so powerful, the FTC has come up with a series of regulations around influencer endorsements on social media platforms. The onus is on the poster to disclose that they received something as a promotional consideration or that they are getting paid to advertise a product. Any financial, personal, employment, or family relationship must be disclosed under these guidelines.
So I emailed the FTC to ask what that might mean for airdrops. While FTC spokesperson Juliana Gruenwald said the agency can’t comment on any specific celebrity or scenario, there’s a general principle at play: if consumers might be unaware of a connection between a marketer and a celebrity, that should be disclosed. “So the relevant questions include whether the celebrity is actually endorsing a product or service on behalf of a marketer, whether any connection is expected by the endorser’s followers, and would knowing about the connection affect what the followers think about the endorsement,” she wrote in an emailed statement.
- The Library of Congress is starting to post the art they collected from the Black Lives Matter fence in Lafayette Square (Washington, DC) on their website.
- You may have heard of “white passing,” but have you heard of “black passing“? One Tiktoker, @theyareuswearethem, shares a family story (and I suggest reading the comments as they are filled with people saying the same thing happened in their family):
- Now that new research demonstrates that Confederate street names lower housing prices, I bet things will change very quickly. Reporting for Bloomberg CityLab, Kriston Capps has the story:
Confederate addresses sell for 3% less on average than homes of similar size and age on nearby streets that aren’t named for secessionists. That works out to a mean Confederate home-sale discount of about $7,000 on a $240,000 home. Houses on Confederate streets also take longer to sell than otherwise comparable homes, according to a review of home sales data across 35 states.
- Michael Hobbes creates a must-watch video about “Cancel Culture” and ties it into the US history of moral panics, which makes a lot of sense:
- Truth or Fiction fact checked the claim that Thomas Jefferson’s chef, James Hemings, was the first American classically trained in French cuisine and made the first Mac and Cheese (he called it macaroni pie), and they say it’s true. Did I mention Hemings was a Black enslaved man who was owned by Jefferson until he negotiated for legal manumission at the age of thirty (he sadly died at age 36) and the older brother of Sally Hemings?
While in Paris, James Hemings was trained in the art of French cooking. He studied first with the caterer and restaurateur, Monsieur Combeaux, apprenticed with pastry chefs and then with a cook in the household of the Prince de Condé. After three years of study he became the head chef at the Hôtel de Langeac, Jefferson’s residence that functioned also as the American embassy. Here his dishes were served to international guests, statesmen, authors, scientists, and European aristocrats. His wages of twenty-four livres a month were a regular income (and more than the occasional gratuity he received in the United States, but that salary was half of what Jefferson paid his previous chef cuisinier.
- ProPublica reports on the rise of private equity firms as landlords, and how it is hurting most people:
Private equity is now the dominant form of financial backing among the 35 largest owners of multifamily buildings, the analysis showed. In 2011, about a third of the apartment units held by the top owners were backed by private equity. A decade later, half of them were.
Private equity-backed firms in the top 35 cumulatively held roughly a million apartments last year, the analysis showed. That is likely an undercount, because private equity giants like Blackstone, Lone Star Funds and others don’t participate in the National Multifamily Housing Council’s annual survey.
Private equity firms often act like a corporate version of a house flipper: They seek deals on apartment buildings, slash costs or hike rents to boost income, then unload the buildings at a higher price.
The influx of private equity comes during a national affordable housing crisis and has dire consequences, tenants and their advocates say. Such firms use economies of scale to more aggressively squeeze profits from their buildings than traditional landlords usually do, tenant advocates say. The firms’ tactics can include sharply increasing rent or fees and neglecting upkeep. Sometimes landlords force out existing tenants and replace them with those who can pay more.
- Nova‘s “Secrets in the Scat” episode tells us all we wanted to know (and some we don’t) about the scat of four animals (whale, wombat, rhinoceros, and cassowary). Highly recommended.
- Remember wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts? He spoke to Vice about his childhood sexual abuse and the fact that he was the result of his mom being raped at age 13. He is a very brave man:
- Another nail in the coffin in the idea that artists are often “self-made.” This time, Arcade Fire:
Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, 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.
The Tweet comparing an ominous screen capture from the Tucker Carlson Show to one of Holzer’s Truisms is being sold as an NFT to benefit crucial organizations in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.
Rapper Maykel “Osorbo” Pérez was sentenced to nine years.
Shows at the Hudson Valley’s Hessel Museum of Art feature artists Dara Birnbaum and Martine Syms, as well as new scholarship on Black melancholia as an artistic and critical practice.
On the day of the Supreme Court’s decision to undo 50 years of constitutional rights to abortion, artist Elana Mann’s “protest rattles” feel especially poignant and urgent.
This week, Title IX celebrates 50 years, the trouble with pronouns, a writer’s hilarious response to plagiarism allegations, and much more.
PLEASE SEND TO REAL LIFE: Ray Johnson Photographs reveals the “career in photography” that occupied the artist in the last three years of his life.
Since antiquity, women’s eyebrows have been sites of intense scrutiny, constantly shifting between trend cycles.
A landmark show of 30 artists at Jeffrey Deitch gallery in New York keeps the category of Asian figuration open-ended.
Contemporary Black-Indigenous women artists Rodslen Brown, Joelle Joyner, Moira Pernambuco, Paige Pettibon, Monica Rickert-Bolter, and Storme Webber are featured in this digital exhibition.
Hall makes no attempt to entice the viewer to begin looking and to look again, letting her methodical craft compel viewers to reflect upon their experience.
In Benglis’s latest works, the forces of gravity that defined her seminal poured latex and polyurethane pieces are traded for luminous bronzes.
A new project by Columbia’s Queer Students of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation explores queer histories that have been suppressed by gentrification and urban development.