Posted inArt

Recovering the History of the Puerto Rican Art Workers’ Coalition

A few times during her talk last week, historian and curator Yasmin Ramírez looked over at the copy of Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era by Julia Bryan-Wilson sitting on the table in front of her. It wasn’t a look of love. Each time she referenced the book it was, at least in part, with a sense of frustration that despite being one of the only books devoted to the subject of the Art Workers’ Coalition (AWC), Bryan-Wilson largely left out the involvement of black and Puerto Rican artists, who played critical roles in the efforts of the group.

Posted inOpinion

Piecing America Together

While a minority of Americans are in a post-election meltdown over the browning of America, I feel compelled to admit that the part of America that is in a constant state of flux, always shifting, moving, changing, and accepting of the fact that the only things that unite Americans are a few ideas, is what I love about this place. To be American is to be dynamic, maybe even volatile, but never staid. Looking back, to borrow a Biblical allegory, is to turn into salt. I don’t think it’s an accident that the winning candidate’s slogan was “Forward” — that’s the direction we expect from America, even if we’re chronically disappointed. Sara Rahbar’s Flag series captures some of that desire to transform in a distinctly American way.

Posted inArt

Canada, the Country that Dare Not Speak Its Name

NORTH ADAMS, Massachusetts — Framed on the faux-log-cabin wall of Kent Monkman’s piece “Two Kindred Spirits” (which depicts the American western characters of Tonto and the Lone Ranger as lovers in a sort of Horatio/Hamlet life-sized diorama death scene) is a hand-embroidered phrase: “The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name.” This Oscar Wildean quotation also encapsulates the ever-nuanced Canada/U.S. relationship, and may give us a clue as to what’s really up with our neighbor to the north.

Posted inArt

A Billion Hits and Counting: Asian Americans and YouTube

Young Asian Americans dominate a great swath of the messy territory called YouTube, holding their own against the well-funded and famous. This fact makes two major points: there is a great pool of Asian Americans who, against the grain of “model minority” professionalism, need an outlet for humor and creative expression. Perhaps more importantly, these numbers prove the existence of a huge audience, largely Asian American, who want to see the experiences and talents of Asian people in popular media.

Posted inArt

Controversial Afro-Swedish Artist Speaks, “It’s a Disturbing Picture But It’s Also a Disturbing Subject”

In the last few days, Afro-Swedish artist Makode Linde has learned the power of the viral web. His controversial cake performance at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet has ricocheted around the world and has garnered reactions of all types from support of his edgy gesture to raise awareness about female genital mutilation to the denunciation of the artist and the Swedish culture minister pictured in the event photos as racists. Linde spoke to Hyperallergic about the controversy and he was happy to explain the context for the piece and how commenters have not wanted to delve deeper into the work and what it has to say.

Posted inArt

USA and the Other

“Wow your accent sounds so amazing,” is a phrase I often hear when people detect my South African accent. Whereas this is usually a compliment — and I accept it graciously — it can also have the effect of creating a distance between me and the other person if they aren’t South African. In short, it can often clarify that they belong to this place and I am an alien in their territory. But as pop star Sting’s pithy “legal alien” phrase comes to mind I quickly snap out of my self-imposed victimization. Of late, however, it has been quite obvious that the art world still propagates a fascination with the “other.”