The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 1/17

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The internet was very intense and kinda all over the place this week. Highlights: El Anatsui, Rihanna and Lorna Simpson collaborate, Zendaya, the oral history of Wikipedia, Georgia oranges, members of Congress might have helped plan the attack on the Capitol, federal death row, “TRUMP” was carved into a manatee, and Azealia Banks’ cat. 

1. The New Yorker: How El Anatsui Broke the Seal on Contemporary Art

Before reading this, I don’t know if I had ever read an article, profile, or interview of El Anatsui. The first time I learned about and saw Anatsui’s work was on a Kansas City Art Institute recruiting trip in high school. As part of the trip, we got a special tour of the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum and a piece by Anatsui was highlighted in the collection. Since then, most of my knowledge of the artist has come from short, one-paragraph blurbs in art history textbooks, brief mentions in lectures, or wall labels in museums. 

I think part of the reason I never delved into Anatsui’s practice is because of how ubiquitous his work is. Best known for “cascading metal mosaics” made of bottle caps, Anatsui’s work sells for millions, and “[m]useums don them like regalia, as though to signal their graduation into an enlightened cosmopolitan modernity; they have graced, among other landmarks, the façades of London’s Royal Academy, Venice’s Museo Fortuny, and Marrakech’s El Badi Palace.” Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of contemporary art knows the name El Anatsui, or at the very least can describe his work. 

I had known the sweeping gesture of Anatsui’s career, but I didn’t know many details about it or his life, which Julian Lucas beautifully builds this profile on while also describing the politics of the global art market. 


2. Essence: Rihanna And Artist Lorna Simpson: Breaking New Ground

DAMNNNNNNNNN! Lorna Simpson and Rihanna collaborated on this series of covers for the 50th anniversary of Essence magazine. These pieces are absolutely stunning! It should also be mentioned that Rihanna is described as “the Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin Founder” and her lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, is mentioned, but there is nothing of her music career in the short intro text. Maybe Rihanna did this intentionally (if she’d wanted to be noted as a musician she surely could have told the editor) because she doesn’t want to field comments from her fanbase, The Navy, about her long-anticipated ninth studio album, nicknamed R9. Whatever the reason, the lack of acknowledgment of her music career is noticeable. But we still got beautiful images of Rihanna and that is enough for me. 


3. GQ: Welcome to Zollywood

BEAUTIFUL PICTURES OF ZENDAYA!!!! Reading this honestly reminded me a little of reading a Rihanna profile because of the writer Hunter Harris’ fangirl moments and my predilection for the photographs by Tyrell Hampton. The profile mostly talks about how the pandemic forced Zendaya to consider who she is without work, her skill as an actor, and how “she’s still trying to overcome the childhood shyness that used to define her.” All of this is interesting, but I still wasn’t as engaged with the writing as I was with the photographs. 


4. One Zero: The Wikipedia Story

I love how much the internet loves Wikipedia. This love is shown through its “more than 6 million entries in English, it is visited hundreds of millions of times per day,” and thoughtful long essays on how it is “the last best place on the internet.” Of course it is not without its problems, and “nearly 300,000 editors (or ‘Wikipedians’) now volunteer their time to write, edit, block, squabble over, and scrub every corner of the sprawling encyclopedia.” 

On Friday, Wikipedia turned 20, and in honor of its anniversary, One Zero talked to its founders and early Wikipedians, about its beginnings “as the ugly stepsibling of a whole other online encyclopedia, Nupedia,” to its current place as “a cornerstone of life online.”


5. Bitter Southerner: Orange is the New Peach

I’ve never wanted to eat citrus as badly as when I read this piece. Joe Franklin, a farmer in southern Georgia, took a gamble ten years ago when he bought 200 Satsuma seedlings, a variety of citrus from Japan. The gamble paid off, and he now has more than “6,500 trees, 53 acres of citrus,” including “Oroblanco grapefruit from Israel, Dekopons from Japan, and Australian finger limes.” Satsumas have been popular in the Gulf since the 1890s, and have faced occasional setbacks from cold winters, but “the winter of 1935 did them in,” said Franklin, but he isn’t worried about the same thing happening to him. “One thing that encouraged me to plant citrus was the warming trend…Climate change,” he says. While climate change has hindered Florida’s citrus production and Georgia’s peaches, it might make way for Georgia oranges. 

I went to the Franklin’s Citrus Farm website to see if I could buy anything, but unfortunately they are sold out until the end of 2021. 


6. BuzzFeed: Capitol Police Officers Said They Wouldn’t Be Surprised If Members Of Congress Helped Plan The Attack

Since the attack on the Capitol on January 6, more information (and theories) are coming to light about the sheer extent to which the police were unprepared. In this article, BuzzFeed spoke to three Capitol Police officers, all of whom “said their managers put them in an impossible situation on that day.” Further, “Rep. Mikie Sherrill has alleged that some of her Republican colleagues led ‘reconnaissance’ tours of the building ahead of the attack, though did not provide evidence to back up that claim.” There have also been increased security measures over the past week and some “Republican members of Congress refuse to submit to the security changes put in place since then, and say they wouldn’t even be surprised if some lawmakers helped organize the attack.” 

This piece isn’t surprising given the current state of the country, but it is tragic. 


7. New York Times: Trump Impeached for Inciting Insurrection

President Trump was impeached for a second time for “incitement of insurrection” of the Capitol on January 6th. Lawmakers passed the vote on the single article, 232 to 197, making Trump the first president to be impeached twice. Trump has “released a video condemning the violence and urging his followers to avoid a repeat in ‘the coming days both here in Washington and across the country’ as federal authorities warned of a nationwide wave of violence surrounding Mr. Biden’s inauguration. But the president did not mention his own role in instigating the violence or apologize, nor did he concede or mention Mr. Biden’s name.”

Trump now “faces a Senate trial that could disqualify him from future office.” In the Senate, “It would most likely take 17 Republicans joining Democrats to convict Mr. Trump, an exceedingly high bar.”


8. The Atlantic: Trump Is Putting the Machinery of Death Into Overdrive

I’ve found that one of the most difficult things for me to think about over the past few months is the increase in federal executions. “After 17 years without a federal execution in the United States, the Trump administration has gone on what can only be called a killing spree,” writes Clint Smith. Since July 2020, the Trump administration has executed thirteen people. “Taking life is the most serious thing any government has the power to do.”

I’ve never supported the death penalty, and the older I get the more I am against it. Biden has stated that he “will work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and incentivize states to follow the federal government’s example. These individuals should instead serve life sentences without probation or parole.” Trump has just been impeached for a second time, and “even though most of the House of Representatives, including a record number of members of his own party, have declared [Trump] unfit for the office he holds, he is still exercising the most awesome of the powers of the state—the power to take a life.” 

Smith writes that “The death penalty is wrong because it is wrong. But its inhumanity has been amplified by the context in which the country finds itself.” On January 20th, “a president will take office who wants to eliminate the death penalty. And the current administration is attempting one final act of cruelty before he does.”


9. Citrus County Chronicle: Federal officials seek information on manatee harassment

On Monday, January 11, the Citrus County Chronicle reported that a manatee had been found with “TRUMP” scraped onto its back. The incident is currently under investigation by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service because the “harassment of a manatee, protected by the Endangered Species Act, is a Class A, federal criminal offense punishable by a $50,000 fine and/or up to one year in federal prison.”

Really?!?! We had to bring manatees into this?


10. YouTube: Azealia Banks digs up her cat and cooks the bones in a pot

(Content warning: this video might be disturbing.) Early Tuesday morning, rapper Azealia Banks posted a video of herself digging up her dead cat and boiling its bones on Instagram. The video then quickly made its way to Twitter and other social media platforms. The post, which has since been removed, was captioned “Lucifer. 2009-2020. My dear kitty. Thank you for everything. A legend. An icon. Forever a serval serve.

I’ve been thinking about this all week. I have not watched this video, but my roommate did and said it was disturbing. 


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