Highlights from the Highlights and What’s Still Missing by A.F. Oehmke
The internet was nostalgic and full of lists this week. So, today’s list is a meta-list. Highlights from the highlights: Hyperallergic makes the powerless people in the art world visible, Ta-Nehisi Coates took on Donald Trump, the US has a censorship issue, we need to read more books by women of color, Rihanna photoshopped Queen Elizabeth II’s head onto her body, there are too many memes, Spotify might be creating fake artists, and what exactly is Donald Trump’s Twitter account?
1. Hyperallergic: The 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World: 2017 Edition Pick of the list: Number 8, “arts communities threatened by natural disasters and climate change.” As climate change continues this will only become more of an issue. This is also a huge issue for cultural institutions and historic sites.
What’s missing: Gallery Security/Attendants. The people that stand in the corners of galleries and museums that watch you as you look at the work. They are often overlooked by “more important” members of museum staff, and, a lot of the times, are the only “diversity” within cultural institutions. It is interesting because they also have so much power to make a visitor’s experience really exceptional or completely ruin it.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
Pick of the list: Number 4, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!” Yeah… he just really does not get it.
What’s missing: Covfefe. On May 31st Donald Trump tweeted “despite the constant negative press covfefe” at 12:06am. He deleted it shortly after. No one knows what covfefe means, but I’ve seen it on T-shirts and bumper stickers.
3. Longreads: Longreads Best of 2017: Political Writing Pick of the list: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The First White President published in The Atlantic. This piece was EVERYWHERE the week it was published, and rightfully so. Coates has made himself a household name, and for many people, especially white people, his word on race in America is taken as law. I’m glad more people are thinking about race critically, but the power and influence he has amassed also needs to be critically considered.
What’s missing: What Do We Do With the Art of Monstrous Men? by Claire Dederer in The Paris Review. Longreads has this on their lists of best essays of 2017, but I think that undervalues how political cultural consumption is, and cultural consumption feeds cultural production. How we engage with culture has real political implications.
4. Longreads: Longreads Best of 2017: Arts & Culture Writing Pick of the list: I love a lot of pieces on this list, but Coco Fusco’s Censorship, Not the Painting, Must Go: On Dana Schutz’s Image of Emmett Till originally published on Hyperallergic is a must read. The title perfectly captures her argument, and can be applied to most fields of cultural production (maybe with the exclusion of fake news).
What’s missing: Anne Helen Petersen’s The Great White Celebrity Vacuum published by BuzzFeed. This year, more than ever before, white celebrities have had a harder time cultivating their images along traditional strategies, in getting fans to connect to their work. We have not really had an “it girl” since Jennifer Lawerence, and there does not appear to be a new one in the making. This is an important cultural shift and it says a lot about what people want from media, celebrity, and culture.
5. Electric Lit: 46 Books By Women of Color to Read in 2018 Pick of the list: So I am not going to lie, I hate reading novels and memoirs, so I probably won’t read half of this list. But I love Zadie Smith and am excited to read Feel Free. Her work is always insightful with arresting and beautiful prose.
What’s missing: Per my comment above, I do not typically read a lot of work similar to what’s on this list. I am kinda a theory whore. Naturally I think theory is missing. My editor, Cara Ober, just gave me a signed copy of Radical Reproductive Justice edited by Loretta J. Ross, Lynn Roberts, Erika Derkas, Whitney Peoples, and Pamela Bridgewater Toure that I am SUPER excited to read.
Pick of the list: Number 9, “When Rihanna kept photoshopping the queen of England’s head onto her body?” I have no clue why she did this but they are so funny. Her Instagram is great… half of the time she is just trolling herself. You should follow her if you don’t already.
What’s missing: I don’t think this was forgotten, but when Taylor Swift released Look What You Made Me Do at the VMAs in August it caused the internet to explode. All of the articles hating on Taylor Swift actually prompted me to start these lists. (haters gonna hate…)
7. BmoreArt: 2017’s Top 10 Moments of Black Boy Joy in Culture and Film Pick of the list: Moonlight BEST PICTURE Announcement. When Moonlight won best picture it was a hot mess. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway misread the envelope and announced that LaLa Land was the winner. Then one of the producers on Moonlight figured out that it actually won. It was symbolic on every level possible.
What’s missing: Mark Bradford representing the US in the Venice Biennale. Although he is not the first, at our current political moment it still speaks volumes.
— pixelated boat (@pixelatedboat) August 24, 2017
Pick of the list: Number 2, “distracted boyfriend.” This meme was everywhere. I love it. It was taken way too far which just made meta-memes, which are the best. It will be around for a while.
What’s missing: Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. After Taylor released Look What You Made Me Do the whole thing also became a meme. Look What You Made Me Do traces the eras of Taylor’s visual image, which are largely defined by her records. Towards the end of the video “new Taylor” answers the phone saying “the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now…Why? Oh, cause she is dead.” People had a lot of fun dragging themselves and their favorite celebrities and fictional characters with the meme.
9. Artspace: The 12 Best Art Interviews of 2017 Pick of the list: You’re Being Watched: Trevor Paglen on How Machine-Made Images Are Policing Society & Changing Art History on Artspace. How most images are created is kinda scary and the technology really isn’t about humans anymore. As Paglen puts it “the majority of images in the world are now made by machines for other machines, and it’s pretty rare that humans are in the loop.” Get ready for the future.
What’s missing: The Independent in conversation with Adam Greenfield. While this is not *technically* an art interview, it is one of my favorite interviews of the year. Technology is being created faster than we can consider its implications, and that needs to change.
10. NPR: 30 Must-Read (Or Must-Revisit) NPR Music Articles From 2017 Pick of the list: Spotify Is Accused Of Creating Fake Artists — But What Is A Fake Artist? First of all, I think fake should be the word of the year. Can someone make that happen? Anyway, some artists on Spotify do not actually have any profiles apart from the website, and in effect, their accounts function as “phantom accounts.” Further, there is now an increase in artists making work that they know will be successful via Spotify’s algorithms, with little consideration to traditional aesthetic problems. It is kinda creepy, like fake Instagram accounts and Twitter bots for music.
What’s missing: Jay-Z in conversation with the New York Times Style Magazine. Jay-Z talks about 4:44 and came clean about a lot of stuff in this interview, including cheating on Beyonce. Fans of the couple, or just Beyonce, got some answers they have been waiting on for years.
The New York Times: Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades I do not know how this did not make any of the other lists, but this is one of the most influential articles of this year. After women came forward against Harvey Weinstein, women came forward against other men in Hollywood and across many other industries to take powerful men down, and reinvigorated to #metoo movement.
BuzzFeed: White Women Drive Me Crazy This might my favorite piece from this year, and probably because I have a lot of blonde friends. And while I truly love them, sometimes they are a lot. This year has been tough for a lot of white women. I am happy that they are starting to realize how messed up things are, but sometimes white women don’t understand that they are also a large part of the problem.
New Republic: Carolee Schneemann Finally Gets her Due A pioneer of feminist performance art, Carolee Schneemann is finally getting the respect she deserves. Her work is ICONIC. This has been a big year for women in the art world.
*All images taken from reference articles*
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