Saturday, 16 March 2019

Reading list, 16 March 2019

On artists:

An interview with American painter Betty Tompkins, once shunned and now celebrated for her 'porn' paintings:
“Everybody says to me, ‘Oh, you were so ahead of your time!’ You cannot be ahead of your time. You can only be in your time. Your today is the same as everybody else’s. What you can be is rejected by your time, and I was rejected.”
On the future of experiences in (or near) cultural institutions:

The Library of Congress wants to attract more visitors. Will that undermine its mission?

French museums operator Culturespaces has opened the Bunker des Lumières in South Korea, following on from the Atelier des Lumières in Paris, a "30-minute immersive audiovisual experience of Gustav Klimt’s paintings, featuring mural projections of the images set to music by Wagner, Strauss and Beethoven" (images here)

A Former Guggenheim Director Thinks Museums Need to be More Like Theme Parks

On arts journalism:

Niemann surveys 300 visual arts writers for a new report, Newsroom Pressure and Generational Change

On gosh, about time:

Oxford museum rethinks famed display of shrunken heads

On data:

Price comparison of various leisure activities, from art museums to the Superbowl

On copies and attributions:

‘It is for art historians to decide who painted this picture’ (a depiction of Judith and Holofernes that may be attributed to Caravaggio)

The Imitation Game (on objects in Washington D.C. museums that may not be as 'original' as they are displayed to be)




Sunday, 10 March 2019

NAVA's gender equity resources

Australia's NAVA (National Association for the Visual Arts) is releasing some terrific documentation at the moment as they build out their Gender Equity Resources.

This morning I read their latest set of guidelines, Clear Expectations: Guidelines for institutions, galleries and curators working with trans, non-binary and gender diverse artists in Australia, written by Spencer Messih and Archie Barry and supported by The Countess. It's an excellent, simply and clearly explained, informative and actionable set of guidelines that institutions of any size could use.

The previous set of guidelines to this is Anonymous “Speak Up” Protocol: A guide for boards, designed for boards that are responding to an allegation of gendered harassment.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Reading list, 9 March 2019

Mega-dealer Marc Glimcher interviews by artnet on the art gallery of the future (and why painting came roaring back in the 1980s)

I recently finished Thomasin Sleigh's second book, Women in the field, One and Two, which is set in 1950s London and wellington and hinges on two (fictional) Russian modernist paintings purchased by an external art consultant for New Zealand's National Art Gallery. That sent me back to Holly Walker's interview with Sleigh for The Pantograph Punch, published earlier this year.

Hyperallergic on a suite of forthcoming solo shows across the Tate galleries that focus on women artists (course correcting some of the criticism around male-dominated programming at the institution)

I often think that simply having a history of free entry places New Zealand's visual arts institutions so far ahead of the American curve: Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland Will Become Free as Part of Inclusivity Initiative

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Reading list, 2 March 2019

Some interlinked reading and listening ...

A new academic study showing that the collections of 18 sampled US art museums' collections are hopelessly white and hopelessly male has been written up in many outlets - such as on Artnet. The study itself is also available online. Here's the method: 18 museums with their collections fully available online were selected by the researchers as credible and representative, then ...
We scraped the public online collections of 18 major U.S. art museums, retaining the
museum name, artist name, and a web link pointing to the artist’s entry in the
museum’s collection. Then, we deployed a large random subset of scraped records to the
crowdsourcing platform Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) and asked crowdworkers to
research the demographics of each sampled artist, using the web link as a starting point.
Crowdworkers reported their inferences of gender, ethnicity, national origin, and birth
year, along with a numerical rating of confidence in each inference. We put in place
multiple safeguards and checkpoints to ensure the quality of our data. Starting with the
data obtained from crowdworkers, we first eliminated records that did not correspond to
individual, identifiable artists. For each remaining record, we aggregated the inferences
of multiple crowdworkers and if their responses were sufficiently self-consistent, we made a final inference of each artist’s demographic characteristics.
In line with that - a piece of research from last year, co-commissioned by Art Agency Partners and Artnet, asked African American Artists Are More Visible Than Ever. So Why Are Museums Giving Them Short Shrift?

And the Art Agency Partners podcast this week was a recording of a panel discussion they held recently at Frieze art fair: Californian Museum Leaders on Expanding the Canon.

And some randoms ...

Adrian Ellis writes about the increased public scrutiny of museum boards in the social media age, the first in a new series for The Art Newspaper.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Reading list, 23 February 2019

A long write-up in the Sydney Morning Herald of the planned renewal changes to ACMI, including its permanent exhibition and rather discouraging reception areas, with discussion of "the lens", destined to be the new "the pen".


Saturday, 16 February 2019

Reading list, 16 February 2019

Three pieces on words ...

Nicole Martinez's A Lively Debate on the Value of the Term “Latinx”, for Hyperallergic

Aaron Bady's White Words for Popula (on the notion of "Eskimos having more than 50 words for snow")

And a 2018 publication from the Netherland's Research Centre for Material Culture, Words Matter, in which curators and museum staff write about art, word choice and communication in light of the rapid changes around the language used in art work titles and interpretation in the European context (much more interesting than I've made it sound)


Saturday, 9 February 2019

Reading list, 9 February 2019

This week's listening: Kim Hill interviews Gregggggggggorrrrrry Burke, incoming director of the AAG.

From a podcast that's new to me: Expectations and Epiphanies with [UK's National Portrait Gallery] Director Nicholas Cullinan. I'm also starting to mine the Art Agency Partners' (an arts agency that's a subsidiary of Sothebys, explaining their access) backlog of articles, including this one on the squishy (often icky) definitions of outsider / self-taught / outlier art.

It's gonna take me ages to to process this: Dan Hill's The city is my homescreen - "How design practice can work better for people, services and cities together, and not simply individuals".

I found this really thought-provoking: Johanna Jones of the Oakland Museum of California describes an evolution of her organisation's thinking on how to describe its value and mission, in What problem in our community is our museum most uniquely equipped to solve?

Lucie Paterson of ACMI on the development and testing of the physical/digital accompaniment to their exhibition WonderlandThe Lost Map of Wonderland — four months in (from August last year, but still really interesting).

Anne Helen Petersen just keeps banging it out. Here she is on a recent profile of Lorena Bobbitt, with bonus analysis of the 1990s and the cultural moment of postfeminist backlash.

"Either we say that improving health, wellbeing and social outcomes is our proper motivation, or we admit that the value of the arts is different to this." I don't think it's an either/or argument but Carter Gillies picks up here on something I've been thinking about in terms of how we position arts institutions and arts funding.

The German culture ministry has announced US$2.17 million for research into artifacts that entered German public collection in the colonial era. The eight member panel that will allocate the funding includes Bénédicte Savoy, co-author of the report on repatriation commissioned by French preseident Emmanuel Macron in 2018. It's striking to me that the German fund will be administered by the German Lost Art Foundation, established in 2015 to aid with Nazi-looted artworks; it's a reminder that repatriation and restitution look very different in every national/geographic/historical context.

Endearing. Gig posters for science talks - by a cellular biologist.


Saturday, 2 February 2019

Reading list, 2 February 2019

Hartwig Fischer deployed a spectacularly misjudged bit of phrasing this week discussing demands for the return of the Parthenon marbles, saying that "When you move a cultural heritage to a museum, you move it outside. However, this shifting is also a creative act." I say "spectacularly misjudged" because I am myself very guilty of opening my mouth and saying stupid things, or saying things stupidly. However, the British Museum backed this up through a statement, saying in the piece of Guardian reporting linked above that "Hartwig Fischer was stating the longstanding position of the British Museum".

Jonathan Jones reliably leapt on to the resultant controversy: as always, I hope he is not responsible for his headlines - Let's not lose our marbles over the British Museum boss's remarks.

And speaking of reliable, an otherwise on-point piece of BBC reporting on the Pitt Rivers Museum's repatriation efforts brings conservative warhorse Tiffany Jenkins in to trot out her opinions once more about the role of museums as world knowledge centres, cultural contexts be damned.

Moving on. The reliably interesting Gray Market newsletter for this week - Why the Government Shutdown's End Should Be Cold Comfort to US Arts Institutions.

Saved up for weekend reading: Doing the Work: [art journos] Carolina A. Miranda and Siddhartha Mitter in Conversation.

And Kajsa Hartsig on thinking of exhibitions as one of many possible endpoints.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Reading list, 26 January 2019

A grubby, sad story: His Art, Their Ideas: Did Robert Indiana Lose Control of His Work?

I'm still pondering this manifesto in the Harvard Design Magazine by Joanna Kloppenburg and Nicholas Korody (What if we began by admitting that we hated writing this? What if we said we did it because we needed the money? What if we acknowledged that we had fallen out of love with architecture and couldn’t remember why we loved it in the first place?) alongside Anne Helen Petersen's How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation (Those expectations encapsulate the millennial rearing project, in which students internalize the need to find employment that reflects well on their parents (steady, decently paying, recognizable as a “good job”) that’s also impressive to their peers (at a “cool” company) and fulfills what they’ve been told has been the end goal of all of this childhood optimization: doing work that you’re passionate about.)

Conflict of interest much? A late nineteenth-century case less well known than the Elgin Marbles, but more scandalous in its scope, also victimised Cyprus. Luigi Palma de Cesnola was the U.S. consul there and used his consular office to strip Cyprus of a staggering 35,000 items of antiquity. This serial looter sold his collection to the new Metropolitan Museum of New York.

Seb Chan has started an enewsletter.


Saturday, 19 January 2019

Reading list, 19 January 2019

"Using his own fortune, Verdi built the retirement home for opera singers and musicians, a neo-Gothic structure that opened in 1899. The composer died less than two years later, but he made sure the profits from his music copyrights kept the home running until the early 1960s, when they expired. Today guests pay a portion of their monthly pension to cover basic costs – food and lodging — while the rest comes from donations." I love this so much.

"What role the Rothko served remains unclear to me." I love this a bit less (the trend, not the article). The Rise of the Mindful Museum.

More from the Walker's "Museum Resolutions" series: Laura Raicovich, Dismantle the Myth of Neutrality and Antony Romero's Build Social Relations Over Property Relations  

Ted Loos in the NYTAfter the Quake, Dana Schutz Gets Back to Work

I'm not sure what to make of this article yet, despite reading it twice. Good to read alongside the Schutz piece above; pity McLean didn't tie it off with Michael Parekowhai's chrome Cook sculptures. Ian McLean, Paper Tigers: The New Iconoclasm and Identity Politics, in Di'van: A Journal of Accounts, issue 4.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Reading list, 12 January 2019

I haven't linked to anything tech-related in ages. But I've been following Shelley Bernstein's thoughtful write-ups of her tech decisions for her workplaces for more than a decade now, and they're always worthwhile. On choosing collaboration tools to bring together a very diverse group: Prototyping a Change Network with the OF/BY/FOR ALL First Wave.

I also don't often link to workplace advice but this NYT article is much better than the title suggests. It actually delves into common issues with time-management and particularly how people get into toxic and stressful situations around things like answering emails - the four general personality types, how each responds to stressors, and how you can improve your instinctive approach. The 4 ‘Attachment Styles,’ and How They Sabotage Your Work-Life Balance.

Also unusual. As with Shelley, I've been following my friend Nat Torkington's 4 Short Links digest for years now. This page of project management aphorisms from NASA has some of your typical engineer machismo, but also some really great insights and timeless advice. 100+ Lessons Learned for Project Managers.

Back on the normal path. This article on the Guardian helped explicate a current artistic movement I've been struggling to wrap my head around, without going PhD-level on it. Political, forensic, hi-tech: how 'research architecture' is redefining art.

Colleen Dilenschneider on why members of cultural organisations don't renew. Valuable for parsing what people really mean when they say things like "I'll sign up again next time I visit".

Seb Chan on salary cloaking (ie. not stating salary ranges in museum job advertising)

My friend the typographer Kris Sowersby, founder of Klim Type Foundry, is one of the most prolific people I know - and one of the smartest. For some purely good writing, check out his design notes on his recent reversed-stress typeface Maelstrom, and Bethany Heck's review of Maelstrom in use.

An interesting set of responses to a question on Twitter about "actual examples" of decolonisation in museums.

And a profile of Kaywin Feldman, gearing up to take over the National Gallery of Art in Washington, bit of a personal hero.


Sunday, 6 January 2019

Reading list, 6 January 2019

Fighting in your weight class: it's stimulating to read big critics robustly taking on big institutions and big shows, as with Peter Schjeldahl for the New Yorker and Roberta Smith for the NYT on the Met's Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera.

Ongoing, from the Macron report on restitution: Jason Farago assembles a roundtable for the NYTArtwork Taken From Africa, Returning to a Home TransformedFrench antiquities dealers slam ‘shocking’ report on restituting African art  and The repatriation debate intensifies as calls for post-colonial restitution grow—but is it legal? in The Art Newspaper; Thomas Marks' editor's letter for ApolloRethinking the restitution of African artefacts.

And from a different political angle - tensions between France and Italy play out through museum loans: For Italy’s Populists, Everything Is a Nationalist Cause. Even Leonardo.

"Museums are not neutral. Displays of European Art are not neutral. White supremacists know it. We must see it too." Alexander Kauffman for Hyperallergic, Committing to Anti-Racism in Galleries of European Art.

Things I plan to read when I'm back at work (tomorrow, sigh) - Culture 24's latest report from the end of 2018, Understanding the social purpose of digital technology for arts and heritage organisations.

"The food we consume, what we enjoy, how we acquire nourishment, literally all the mechanisms that touch how we eat are fascinating. But the museums of ice cream, pizza, and avocado don’t provide any of that insight". Pissed off by the museum-of-X phenomenon but from another angle; Erin DeJesus for Eater, Fake Food Museums Are Our Greatest Monuments to the Brand Hellscape of 2018.