The internet was kinda weird this week…? Highlights: Zoe Leonard’s killing it as always, the art world is shitting on powerful women, having money can be difficult for artists, a Rio councilwoman was murdered, National Geographic admitted it was racist, high school students protest gun violence, A Wrinkle in Time is turning into a massive debate, and Rihanna shat all over Snapchat.
1. Paris Review: Zoe Leonard: Archivist of Feeling
Zoe Leonard’s work seems to have been made specifically for this moment in time. Her poem I Want a President was written in 2001, published in 2006, but feels like it was written the day after Trump won the election. But that is the wonderful thing about Leonard’s work: it is timeless, endlessly resonating with the current moment.
Leonard has been called “an archivist of feeling.” It is constantly said but rarely learned that feelings are more powerful than logic, and that if you touch the heart you can change the mind. Feelings are political and “Leonard’s work is an invitation to interrogate how our depressions, despairs, and desires can be harnessed as political perspectives. Our emotional responses, according to Leonard, are a form of political positioning.”
On Monday, Helen Molesworth, the Chief Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, was effectively fired. Molesworth is the third high powered women in the art world to either be fired from or to forcibly leave their job this year. She follows Laura Raicovich’s departure from the Queens Museum for being “politically outspoken,” and the director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute of Contemporary Art, Lisa Freiman who left her position as executive director to “return to her scholarly roots.”
While at the MOCA, Molesworth curated critically acclaimed blockbuster exhibitions on Kerry James Marshall, a black artist, and Anna Maria Maiolino, a Brazilian feminist artist. Philippe Vergne, the director of the museum who fired Molesworth, curated a show about Carl Andre, a white male artist who was charged with second-degree murder for killing his wife, Ana Mendieta. Andre was acquitted of the chargers but like really…we all know what happened.
This is not a good look for arts institutions.
3. New York Times: For Artists, the Thrill of Grant Money Arrives With a ‘Now What’?
Last year, I went out to dinner with Fred Wilson and Joyce J. Scott, two MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship recipients, Malcolm Peacock, and a few other members of the Baltimore art scene. What to do with grant money was a main topic of conversation, as Joyce had just received her fellowship, which came with substantially more money than Fred’s, who received the award in 1999. I remember Fred bringing up the difference between artists winning the award and people in the sciences. He said that for people working in the sciences it is just extra, “they already have jobs, ways to pay the bills. I lived off of my grant. I ate off of it. I used it to pay bills and buy food.”
It was a surreal dinner, and money was not the only topic of conversation. But Fred’s description of what he did with the title of “genius” was one of the most real things someone has ever told me.
4. Wilson Center: Assassination of Human Rights Activist, Councilwoman Marielle Franco, Shocks Brazil
Marielle Franco an Afro-Brazilian councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro was murdered late Wednesday evening in what many assume was an assassination. Franco vehemently opposed police corruption in Rio and was an outspoken advocate for Afro-Brazilian, the LGBTQ+ community, women, and all marginalized populations.
While it is “It is far too early to know what the impact of Franco’s assassination will be in Rio de Janeiro and in Brazilian society more broadly” but is clear that her death is bringing global attention to the causes she was so passionate about.
5. National Geographic: For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It
National Geographic wanted to talk about race so it decided to start with its own history. This is a VERY simple thing to do, but most places don’t seem to do it… or if they do they don’t pay attention to the results…? Idk why this is so complicated for institutions.
The magazine invited John Edwin Mason, a historian of photography and Africa, to research their archives. Mason found that “until the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers. Meanwhile, it pictured “natives” elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché.”
From this article and issue, it seems like National Geographic is invested in reconciling its history, but many people are asking them why it has taken them so long to do it. Let’s just hope that they continue and that this is not isolated to what it is being reported but also extends to who is reporting, and photographing, and editing, and reading.
6. Philadelphia Inquirer: Philly teens to Florida teens: Would you have stood in solidarity with us?
On Wednesday students around the country walked out of school to protest gun violence and pay respect to those who died in the Parkland shooting. The national movement, led by survivors of the Parkland shooting, has gained immense support, but also harsh criticism from students of color.
Students at Parkway Center City Middle College in Philadelphia struggled in deciding whether or not to participate in Wednesday’s walkout. Students were supportive of the movement but also wanted to know if the movement was supportive of them. As one student said “I’m not saying that those kids’ lives didn’t matter. I’m saying they aren’t the ones being treated like nothing.”
7. BuzzFeed: “A Wrinkle In Time” Has Become An Argument Instead Of A Movie
I saw this headline the day before I saw A Wrinkle in Time, and waited until after the movie to read it. The movie, directed by Ava DuVernay, is the first movie with over $100 million budget to be directed by a black woman.
The article gets a lot of things right about the movie being in the middle of the pack, and not a blockbuster. A Wrinkle in Time is fine. It is kitschy and didactic and exactly what you would expect from a movie of its kind. You could easily go without seeing it in the theater and just stream it online. The argument with the film is if “Hollywood ready to let a black woman direct a big movie that’s not an incontestable hit without it crushing her career — or, at least, setting it back years?”
8. Forbes: The Rihanna Effect: Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel’s Net Worth Drops Nearly $150 Million In Two Days
LOL! So Snapchat had an add for an app that asked users if they would rather “slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown.” Rihanna went off on Snapchat on her Instagram account and the app subsequently lost $800 million in value. The app, which is been struggling since it’s parent company, Snap, went public in March 2017, also recently substantially updated its user interface causing an uproar on Twitter. Kylie Jenner threw shade at the app causing it to decrease an estimated $1.3 billion in value. While Kylie and Rihanna were critiquing VERY different things about Snapchat, it is safe to say the app is becoming obsolete.
9. The New Republic: The Sexism of “Genius”
Stephen Hawking, acclaimed scientist and author, died on Wednesday. For many in the scientific community, this is a huge loss, and almost every major news outlet has reported on it. Hawking was known to the world as a scientific genius, but he himself did not necessarily approve of the term. He felt like the term was to denote a “hero,” an idea easily produced and consumed by the mass media.
It seems like the term has been widely spoken about, or at least around, in the past year. The status of genius is usually referred to men, a lot of whom practice disciplines in the STEM fields and inappropriate behavior by them is more likely to be tolerated. In the post-Weinsteingate era, the question of What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men Is constantly asked and rarely answered.
So UMBC somehow beat the University of Virginia, a number 1 seed, in the first round of March Madness making history?!?! Damn. I’m sorry about everyone’s brackets. Now the whole country is collectively asking WTF is UMBC. Well, one of its most impressive statistics is that it is “known for producing the most African-American students who go on to complete combined M.D.-Ph.D.” That is something I did not know. Best of luck in the next round, UMBC!
“A young woman I’m very fond of said to me: it’s always a problem with men, I’ve had to learn not to overdo. She meant that she had trained herself not to be too beautiful, too intelligent, too considerate, too independent, too generous, too aggressive, too nice. The “too” of a woman produces violent male reactions and, in addition, the enmity of other women, who every day are obliged to fight among themselves for the crumbs left by men. The “too” of men produces general admiration and positions of power.”
*All images taken from reference articles*
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