The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week

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There was kinda a lot of art news on the internet this week. Highlights: Everyone is a curator, Taylor Renee Aldridge discusses collaboration with Jacolby Satterwhite, Ulay died, reconsidering Post Malone, the end of oversharing, SXSW was canceled, David Frum doesn’t understand how bills work, lessons on reporting, and mythical mountain lions. 

1. New York Times: Everyone’s a Curator Now

This article is hilarious but also so, so real. I first started critically thinking about the word curator, and what it means to be a curator, in high school. A freelance curator/artist/writer came to my school to install her solo exhibition, do studio visits, and host a workshop. She was the first person I heard use the term “freelance curator”; previously I had only associated “curator” with people who work in museums. This was in 2013 and Instagram was the hot new app and soon everything was going to be curated. 

As recently as 1987, though, curators have been considered “creative agents in their own right, and master of the kind of the sociopolitical commentary that underpins many of today’s exhibitions.” Further, it is not only this kind of curation that is happening anymore. Anything curated is synonymous with “the aesthetically conscious,” as Maryellen Stewart describes.” And the word has become so ubiquitous it doesn’t mean much at all at the moment.

2. SSENSE: Beyond Biography: Artist Jacolby Satterwhite is Changing What it Means to Collaborate

I really needed to read this interview this week. I needed to read it because I have started to work more collaboratively, something that Satterwhite does frequently, as the title and framing of this interview suggests. But I also needed to read it to learn more about how Satterwhite understands his blackness and blackness in his work—and the same for his collaborators. I needed to hear how Solange’s “When I Get Home was like, ‘Black people have feelings too and black people are minimalist too.’” I needed to hear that “the most radical thing you could do is make someone sit in your world.”

3. ArtNews: Ulay, Daring Performance Artist Who Channeled Postwar Europe’s Anxieties, Is Dead at 76

Performance artist Ulay, best known as Marina Abromović’s partner for more than a decade, died this week at the age of 76. His death feels monumental—his name is one you read in textbooks, canonized in art history. And for him to die seems frightful in a way, as if to signal the beginning stages of the exit of his generation of artists.

4. GQ: How Post Malone Became Pop’s King of Heartbreak

I’m not going to lie, I really don’t like this article. And I can’t tell if it is because of my bias against Post Malone and how this profile is sympathetic towards him, or if I just don’t like the article itself. But it is probably the former. 

After his 2015 breakout hit, “White Iverson,” Post Malone became a divisive figure in hip-hop and rap. I have heard his music described as cotton candy: while it might be appealing, it is filled with nothing. He has also been the center of discussions on appropriation and has, in my opinion, seemed not to care that much in the past. In a scathing review for the Washington Post, Jeff Weiss writes that “Post Malone’s problem isn’t that he’s a bad person or even completely untalented. It’s that he stands for nothing at all.” Currently, as Kelefa Sanneh writes in GQ, Post Malone “outshines—and outearns—most of the figures who inspired him; in America it’s often more lucrative to be White Iverson than black Iverson. In his rise to the top, Post didn’t do anything more objectionable than make a bunch of notably unshitty songs, inspired by his favorite music in the world. But like any successful person in America, he now has cause to consider the history and the system that enabled his success. He admits this, although he also admits he is only now starting to think about what that might mean.” Perhaps I don’t like this profile because Post Malone is becoming more self-aware and more accountable, stating that “I’m 24… It’s time for me to give back and show appreciation and do whatever I can to show that I’m grateful to be able to do what I do.” 

5. Wired: Is This the End of Oversharing?

For two years my Instagram account was ostensibly about oversharing. It was about making the private public, and posting texting conversations I had with friends and family. I’ve written artist statements describing, contextualizing, and theorizing on the practice and why I did it. I believe what I wrote in those statements, that I was “exploring the inextricably intertwined digital and analog worlds, giving volume to the memorable yet intangible.” But most of those statements scapegoated what I think I was really happening. I just missed the people I cared about, and I wanted to miss them publicly. 

Since starting grad school in September, I’ve stopped sharing conversations to my account. I’ve stopped taking a lot of screenshots and photos generally. Every now and again I’ll have a conversation with a friend and get the urge to share it. But that feeling quickly passes. My conversations are private again. 

In a statement last year, Mark Zuckerberg said, “Today we already see that private messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups are by far the fastest growing areas of online communication.” According to Zuckerberg, this is because people are craving more intimacy and are “more cautious of having a permanent record of what they’ve shared.” Further, this act of oversharing has been commodified where “professional influencers make a living from their oversharing. Ours doesn’t look as neat, as well thought-out, as supported.” And for many, “the impulse to share may not have gone away, it has been tempered by consequences.”

I don’t regret posting so many conversations. It was something I learned from. And it got me into grad school. But it is not something I am interested in doing anymore. I’ve decided to focus on other things.  

6. Texas Monthly: What It Would Mean to Cancel SXSW

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been considerable debate on whether or not conferences and events should be canceled. Many conferences decided to postpone, become digital-only, or cancel altogether. SXSW was canceled on Friday, one of the biggest events to do such a thing. The concerns, however, are not just the spread of the coronavirus, but the Austin economy and how canceling SXSW will affect the “caterers, pedicabbers, ride-hailing drivers, bartenders and servers, tech crew and security staff, and countless others who rely on SXSW as a windfall to pay off bills and get their heads above water each year.” These concerns are not exclusive to Austin and SXSW, but it is an extreme example of them. 

7. The Nation: Sexism Sank Elizabeth Warren

A lot of Democratic candidates dropped out of the race last week. But most notably for me was Elizabeth Warren. Now, as I wrote last week, I could not support Warren because of her dangerous claims to Native American ancestry, but it is still sad that the two viable candidates that are left are two white men. Even with my trepidation with Warren, I understand that “she is the candidate Democrats asked for back in 2016… She was the candidate progressives used to explain that, while Clinton was a ‘corrupt, neoliberal shill,’ they were totally not sexist and would vote for some other woman.” But the disappointing fact of the matter is that:

“Democrats are not going to be the ones to get a woman elected president. This party, as currently constituted, is never going to fully get behind a woman candidate, because no real woman can match the pubescent fantasy of a woman Democrats seem to want. No woman can be explicitly feminist enough while also nonthreatening to male swing voters. No woman can be laughably overqualified compared to her male opponents while still being a ‘new’ and ‘fresh’ face to lead the party. No woman can be strong, sweet, tough, flexible, brilliant, accessible, fiery, motherly, and attractive, but not distractingly so, all at the same time. And if a woman can’t be all those things, well, why take the risk of promoting a woman when we can find a perfectly mediocre man just lying around waiting for somebody to give him a chance?”

8. Twitter: David Frum on BBC Newsnight

This clip features David Frum being his normal ludicrous self, where he compares Biden supporters to “people who pay their cable bills on the day they arrive” and Sanders supporters to “people who may forget to pay their cable bill entirely,” stating that the first group is “more reliable.” I mean it is Frum, so this is to be expected but also, wow. 

I do not even know how to explain the number of left turns this video takes. It basically starts with an irate white woman yelling at the manager of her apartment building for not making the company contracted to fix the broken elevator work until 8 p.m. She then leaves and it turns into a dick measuring contest about whether or not the reporter and editor know how to report the news.

10. High Country News: The mystery of mountain lions

I grew up in Michigan, and it is where I currently live. I grew up and live in the suburbs where there are no predators. But I went to high school in Northern Michigan, and, although it did not happen frequently, it wasn’t uncommon to get reports of bears on campus. There are very few cougars in Michigan, although some sightings have been reported in the past couple of years. And there is an isolated wolf population on an island in Lake Superior. But generally, I’ve never lived in a place where I’ve had to consider predators. 

In the west, however, populations of mountain lions fared better than their bear and wolf counterparts that were decimated by European colonialism. The cats did this through their elusive nature, and “their preference for hunting over scavenging protected them from poison and traps.” Because of this, however, many people don’t know much about the animals and “since mystery is the mother of exaggeration, the animal gradually acquired a reputation for prowess and lurking danger far beyond what it really deserved,” wrote naturalist Claude T. Barnes in 1960. The myth of cougars makes it “as easy to revere cougars as harmless avatars of nature as it is to cast them as monsters.” 

All images taken from reference articles. Have a suggestion for next week? Email with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”

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