• Financial Times critic Ariella Budick wrote a scorching review of Wolfgang Tillmans’s retrospective at MoMA. Unfortunately, the article is paywalled, but here’s a little taste:

Now everyone can do what Tillmans did in the 1990s: cherish the magic of banality. Sure, he was uncannily prescient about today’s deluge of pets, plants, selfies, sunsets and dick-pics. He saw such undistinguished snapshots as agents of empathy, all-in-one oracles of feelings, thoughts and ideas. But what happens to your uniqueness when your insight becomes obvious? MoMA sets out to make an argument for a body of work that winds up foundering on its own mediocrity. Asserting that he got there first isn’t enough.

Tillmans dismisses the whole idea of a photograph as aesthetic object, yet he also gets prickly when critics dismiss his work as shallow. “A painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner or George Grosz of a nightclub scene from 1924 Berlin [is] seen as culture in a museum,” he has said. “Whereas people would shrug off a wild night at the Front nightclub as a decadent party.” He appears to confuse subject matter with form. Grosz made nightlife meaningful because he brought his gifts as painter and draftsman to bear on political satire. Tillmans has no such power.

  • Sociology professor Hannah Landecker thinks that viruses are “more like cone snails than hijackers.” She might be right. Here’s a snippet from her essay on e-flux:

As with many apparently innocuous explanatory tropes, this figure of the viral hijacker perhaps hides as much as it reveals. It transposes the idea of an individual or a group of individuals storming a vehicle and overwhelming its drivers and passengers by force; of a temporary and illegal deviation of a normal journey; of violence and coercion in the name of another cause. The hijacker is a terrorist, a thief, a stranger looking to take the wheel. It appears to transparently explain things. But is this a good description of a virus and the creatures it is capable of infecting? Perhaps we should try some other imagery on for size.

  • The “Scooby-Doo” character Velma Dinkley is gay. Deal with it:
  • Princeton University finally announced that it will divest from fossil fuels. Better late than never, right? Chelsey Gilchrist and Claire Kaufman report for the Nation:

Unlike divestment wins at HarvardColumbia, and other universities, Princeton’s policy is the first in America to acknowledge Big Oil’s unethical presence in its climate research and investments. ExxonMobil specifically has significant influence at Stanford, MIT, UT Austin, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. But it’s not just Exxon. BP, Chevron, Shell, and other oil and gas giants are also deeply entrenched within university research around the country.

  • Former (and beloved) Hyperallergic Senior Editor Elisa Wouk Almino writes about the craft of translation and her life as a bilingual immigrant to the US for Catapult:

Portuguese was my first language, but it was quickly followed by English. Portuguese was the language I spoke with family, and English was the language I primarily spoke at school. My vocabulary in English is more complex; it’s become my primary language of expression. Most of the time, English words come to mind first. But to this day, I have the impression that when I speak in English—absorbing its quicker, staccato pace—I bury bits of myself in the process.

  • This fascinating video shows how alleys are going extinct in New York City:
YouTube Poster
  • Artists must start preparing for a post-capitalist society, according to writer-thinker Max Haiven

Artists and culture workers had a role or a spectrum of roles under the cosmology of capitalism. Today their meaning is in flux as that cosmology crumbles. But they also afford one of the few legitimate venues through which we are permitted to think cosmologically from within our cosmology.

As a result, one of the things that defines the condition and challenge for artists and cultural workers today is to help envision and put into practice what might yet come after capitalism catches up to its cosmology and collapses inward on itself. While some artists and culture workers are turning to face this problem directly, my argument here is that all are, in some way or another, contending with it indirectly or unconsciously, and this contention appears in the ways they are organizing, collaborating and collectivizing.

  • Truth:
  • Autumn leaves through the windows of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York:
  • Meanwhile, in Brooklyn:

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...

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