Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Art World To End Sexism and Racism Shortly by Facebooking with 'Times' Critic

Have you been following the recent travails of New York Times art critic Ken Johnson? It is probably coming soon, for an unhappy non-resolution, to a public editor near you. The long and short of it is that there is a petition calling for his head, or at least an ear. In short, he's gone in against "identity-based" art shows—exhibitions of ladies and the black folks and what have you—as an “evil whose necessity would disappear in a more equitable world." (This is exceedingly contrary to the position held by his colleague Holland Cotter, who has often supported this sort of exhibition.) Here is a very good summary and assessment of what has gone down.

And then everyone took their complaints to Facebook, for better or worse. ("The discussions were in turn heated, articulate, rancorous, illuminating and all kinds of internet crazy pants.") In a sense, Johnson's point is a weird relative to Arlene Croce's "victim art is unreviewable" argument. But less hideous: Johnson is often talking through the lens of the art market—about fame, about the canon, and about what's expensive and valued by the hideous collector class—which doesn't give much of a damn about identity politics, or people's lives, and which does single out women and black and gay artists in an explicit way. I get the complaints about how a white critic is working from a white newspaper to speak to white people. But I also appreciate him addressing this stuff in his work. Still, here's a good point: "Attempting to introduce white visitors to art they find irrelevant isn’t a flaw… but rather an inversion of the normal state of attempting to introduce black visitors to art they find irrelevant." Unfortunately, there was less thoughtful criticism.

Like the headline "Times Critic Caught in This Week’s Witch Hunt," which is bizarrely attached to a fairly thoughtful piece. Fortunately, this can all be resolved on Facebook, where now a really boring conference is being planned that will SETTLE EVERYTHING…

Great talk you guys. See you there! Kidding. Would actually rather be dead.

One last note:

10 Comments / Post A Comment

Tulletilsynet (#333)

When Justin Town's secretary escorts him to Facebook, will there be an actual procession from Justin Town's Facebook page to the secretary's Facebook page, and then to the Facebook meeting? With a gradually accreting entourage? I hope?

NinetyNine (#98)

"So it goes from you, to God, to Jerry, to the cleaners?"

@Tulletilsynet Transported in the catalfaque a porcelain king.

GiovanniGF (#224)

The part I don't understand is why the reaction was a petition and not simply a letter to the editor?

@GiovanniGF I think they did do that, but it was ignored. I don't know that they ever made it public though. They could have just used a blog or facebook for this.

@GiovanniGF I think they did do that, but it was ignored. I don't know that they ever made it public though. They could have just used a blog or facebook for this.

SkinnyNerd (#224,784)

Can people not on facebook/twitter be an identity as well? Are we the new voiceless? In any case, we are not interested in a "conversation." Burning the vehicles of the voiced to the ground would suffice.

Matt (#26)

Jesus fuck can we put the term "crazy pants" to bed in 2005 where it belongs, Christ.

cinetrix (#47)

Man, that GIF reminds me that ol' Sinead still deserves an apology. Does Hallmark have a MEA MAXIMA CULPA line?

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

Who is the "real enemy" here? I'm confused per usual. Love that there is a PE reference and Sinead O'Connor reference in the same day on The Awl. I miss the days when she was "artist" crazy as opposed to her current "Honey Boo Boo" crazy.

Speaking of "Honey Boo Boo" crazy, Glenn Beck is now making Andreas Serrano style piss sculptures and selling them on his website. Maybe cultures evolve so that what was once shocking and provocative is now pure hokum?,0,2644287.story

Maybe the identity-based artists won the culture war and thus their "radical" messages are about as radical (and interesting) these days as Barack Obama.

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