It must be at the end of the National Mall, near the base of the U.S. Capitol, where loyalty to the National Rifle Association has long trumped the national welfare, including the survival of our children. Design and construction of the memorial should begin immediately, and the memorial should be imposing, sobering and monumental.

It should include the names of every victim of gun violence, which is, of course, impracticable, but that is the point. This memorial is meant to be finished only when America’s grotesque fetish cult of guns has finally yielded to peace.

There is one obvious and necessary site for the memorial: the lopped-off triangle of land on the north side of the Capitol Reflecting Pool, at the base of the Capitol, a plot bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue, Constitution Avenue and First and Third streets NW. This is the last, large open spaceclose to the Capitol.

And the new memorial must be close to the Capitol, close enough to implicate and shame the men and women who work inside it on a daily basis.

  • A CNN investigation found new evidence that Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in a targeted attack by Israeli forces:

The Israeli military says it is not clear who fired the fatal shot. In a preliminary inquiry, the army said there was a possibility Abu Akleh was hit either by indiscriminate Palestinian gunfire, or by an Israeli sniper positioned about 200 meters (about 656 feet) away in an exchange of fire with Palestinian gunmen — though neither Israel nor anyone else has provided evidence showing armed Palestinians within a clear line of fire from Abu Akleh.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on May 19 that it had not yet decided whether to pursue a criminal investigation into Abu Akleh’s death. On Monday, the Israeli military’s top lawyer, Major General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, said in a speech that under the military’s policy, a criminal investigation is not automatically launched if a person is killed in the “midst of an active combat zone,” unless there is credible and immediate suspicion of a criminal offense. United States lawmakers, the United Nations and ​the international community ​have all called for an independent probe.

But an investigation by CNN offers new evidence — including two videos of the scene of the shooting — that there was no active combat, nor any Palestinian militants, near Abu Akleh in the moments leading up to her death. Videos obtained by CNN, corroborated by testimony from eight eyewitnesses, an audio forensic analyst and an explosive weapons expert, suggest that Abu Akleh was shot dead in a targeted attack by Israeli forces.

  • Have you heard of the Cluttercore trend? Apparently, Gen Zers are revolting against the minimalism of millennials by embracing Victorian excess. Vanessa Brown explains more in an article for The Conversation:

Nowadays, the “safe” and default mainstream option is a broadly-defined “modern” look characterised by Ikea. But it’s not really minimalist. This look encourages an accumulation of stuff that never quite functions or fits together and which still fills a room according to the ethos of homeyness – even though each object may “look modern”.

It fails to tell a convincing story of the self or remain tidy, prompting further purchases of “storage solutions”. Minimalists strip this back to a minimum of objects with a neutral palette. Fewer mistakes equals less chucking out. Less stuff equals less to change when you tire of it.

But minimalism is more difficult than ever. We are powerless against the tides of half-wanted incoming consumer stuff – especially if you have children – which makes achieving minimalism all the more impressive. People who do achieve it frame their shots with care and they chuck a lot of stuff away.

Making a more elastic aesthetic look good is also difficult, maybe more difficult. Clutter lovers range from sub-pathological hoarders, to upper middle-class apers of aristocratic eclecticism, to ethical “keepers”. An aesthetic mess can look like an accidental loss of human control, identity or hope. It takes a lot to make harmony out of all that potential noise – and keep it tidy.

Cluttercore is perfect for now, a vehicle to display the curated self, the “interesting” and “authentic” self so demanded by social media. And it hides behind the idea that anything goes, when in fact, maybe some things must.

And here’s a Cluttercore apartment tour:

YouTube Poster
  • Cats have taken advantage of us to take over the world, writes Sarah Zhang for the Atlantic:

This relationship has been good for us of course—formerly because cats caught the disease-carrying pests stealing our food and presently because cleaning up their hairballs somehow gives purpose to our modern lives. But this relationship has been great for cats as species, too. From their native home in the Middle East, the first tamed cats followed humans out on ships and expeditions to take over the world—settling on six continents with even the occasional foray to Antarctica. Domestication has been a fantastically successful evolutionary strategy for cats. […]

Modern domestic cats appear to have all originated in one of two places. The first was Anatolia, which roughly corresponds to modern-day Turkey. These cats spread to Europe as early as 4,400 B.C.E. A second domesticated lineage appears to have begun in Egypt and then later spread through the Mediterranean. And wherever the cats followed humans, they also interbred with the native wildcats already there. […]

Compared to many other animals, cats have also changed very little in the domestication process. Behaviorally, they’ve become more tolerant of humans. Physically, though, they’re still about the same size and shape. They still like to pounce on small prey. “Cats have done since before they were domesticated what we needed them to do,” says Leslie Lyons, a feline geneticist at the University of Missouri. In other words, unlike dogs that herd sheep or hunt badgers, cats didn’t need humans to breed them to become good mouse hunters.

Nan Goldin (courtesy Megan Kapler)

Patrick Radden Keefe, author of Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty (2021) wrote a blurb for Time about Goldin:

She launched an audacious campaign to shame museums into cutting ties with the Sacklers, designing a series of elaborately choreographed protests. With her impeccable eye and the zeal of a survivor, Goldin framed each protest like a photograph. It worked: she placed a burning spotlight on the family, who recently reached settlements requiring them to pay $6 billion to help remediate the crisis. She pioneered a powerful new form of activism and started an urgent conversation about tainted money in the arts. And sure enough, one by one, museums began removing the Sackler name—because, through Goldin’s work, it had become a byword for infamy.

  • While the rest of the world has moved away from COVID lockdowns, China is still sticking to its “zero-COVID” policy. And that’s showing on the streets of major Chinese cities:
  • Simon Parkin of the Guardian writes on how the Hebrew University in Israel, which has controlled Albert Einstein’s estate since 1982, has made hundreds of millions from licensing images of the famed physicist. But is that what Einstein would have wanted?

In the mid-1980s, the university began to assert control over who could use Einstein’s name and likeness, and at what cost. Potential licensors were told to submit proposals, which would then be assessed by unnamed arbitrators behind closed doors. An Einstein-branded diaper? No. An Einstein-branded calculator? Yes. Anyone who did not follow this process, or defied the university’s decision, could be subject to legal action. Sellers of Einstein-themed T-shirts, Halloween costumes, coffee beans, SUV trucks and cosmetics found themselves in court. The university’s targets ranged from hawkers of market-stall novelties to multinationals such as Coca-Cola, Apple and the Walt Disney Company, which in 2005 paid $2.66m for a 50-year licence to use the name “Baby Einstein” on its line of infant toys.

Einstein had been a well-paid man. His $10,000 salary at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton – roughly $180,000 in today’s money – was set by the institute to exceed that of any American scientist (“Isn’t that too much?” Einstein queried at the time). But his earnings in life were insignificant compared to his earnings in death. From 2006 to 2017, he featured every year in Forbes’ list of the 10 highest-earning historic figures – “dead celebrities” in the publication’s rather diminishing term – bringing in an average of $12.5m a year in licensing fees for the Hebrew University, which is the top-ranking university in Israel. A conservative estimate puts Einstein’s postmortem earnings for the university to date at $250m.

  • NASA released a sonification — translation of astronomical data into sound — of a black hole at the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster. It sounds like a dying whale:
  • Mega-investor Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners’ global chief investment officer, told Market Watch that fine art is a better investment than crypto and the stock market. Joseph Adinolfi reports:

If given $10,000 and a five-year investing horizon, Minerd said he would rather put the money to work in real estate or fine art instead of equities.

He also shared some downright apocalyptic thoughts about crypto, warning that the digital assets could experience an even more brutal wash out, with bitcoin BTCUSD, -0.93% potentially sliding all the way back to $8,000.

You know what that means: more madness in the art market.

  • And finally, New York City’s last public payphone was removed this week because the city has moved on to high-speed “Wi-Fi kiosks.” Okay, how about modernizing the subway next?

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.

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...