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.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Reading list. 22 December 2018

An article this week by my colleague Puawai Cairns for the Center for the Future of Museums blog - Decolonisation: we aren’t going to save you. Puawai also pointed this week to an earlier piece of writing by another of our colleagues, Sean Mallon, which is evergreen: Opinion: why we should beware of the word ‘traditional’.

 Interesting job going at the Pitt Rivers, showing how deliberate and pointed research can be one of a museum's best tools of self-reflection and correction: the Research Associate - Labelling Matters is being recruited for a project to "dissect and dismantle some of the complex contested words, stereotypes and concepts that are present not only in museums but in society at large."

The V&A's Tristram Hunt must have a very active comms rep: here he is for the end of the year in The Art Newspaper, Museums must confront the big issues. Still a million times better than the dickwad bemoaning Kaywin Feldmen's appointment as director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington this week - he doesn't warrant a link.

And some listening for over the holiday break:

Circuit's end of year round-up is a two-parter this year, featuring Mark Amery, Shannon Te Ao, Simon Gennard and Health Galbraith. Part One: personal highlights, trends, best show // Part Two: biggest surprise, best publication, best writing, best moving image work

Suse Anderson of MuseoPunks interviews Christopher Bedford, director of Baltimore's Museum of Art 

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Reading list, 8 December 2018


“I fell into a trap for 10 years or more of trying to educate the non-Native about what Natives were about,” says Gerald Clarke Jr., a Cahuilla artist known for his large welded sculptures. “It’s a trap because the default setting for mainstream America is that the artist is the ambassador of the community, and that almost replaces the interest in the artist’s own creativity.”


Designing for Instagram is fully established as a real thing (to wit - Ollie Wainwright's
Snapping point: how the world’s leading architects fell under the Instagram spell). The NGV have just paired M.C. Escher (perhaps one of the most Instagram-adaptable of artists) with design firm Nendo: MC Escher gets another dimension – and a show that plunges you into his obsessions.

Ticketed for later listening: a Slate podcast interview with exhibition designers Lana Hum and Mack Cole-Edelsack of MoMA’s exhibition design and production department.

A really fascinating read: Revisiting Suck magazine’s experiment in radical feminist pornography.

Excellent fluff: What 8 Collectors Wore to a Fall Art and Design Fair.

Nathalie de Gunzburg
Age: 52
Occupation: chairwoman, Dia Beacon
You’re wearing leather.
Yes, I’m wearing a Hermès black leather dress.
It’s very strong.
Of course.
How do you dress for an event like this?
I don’t know. I like the dress, I had it in my closet. I thought, Why not?
Your shoes: Are they python?
Yes. They’re Aquazzura. All my shoes are. And they’re very comfy.
I don’t believe that. It’s like a four-inch heel.
It’s a full-time job to know how to walk in heels.

It's that time of the year: How Pantone Picked ‘Living Coral’ as the 2019 ‘Color of the Year’.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Reading list, 2 December 2018

Nathan Sentence, who is a project officer in First Nations programming at the Australian Museum, regularly puts out some of the best writing in the sector. Most recently: Diversity means Disruption.

Among the many reactions to Bénédicte Savoy and Felwine Sarr's report to President Macron on the repatriation of African artefacts from French museums:

Return of African Artifacts Sets a Tricky Precedent for Europe’s Museums, featuring Hartwig Fischer (British Museum), Hartmut Dorgerloh (Humboldt Forum) and Prince Kum’a Ndumbe III (AfricAvenir International)

Restitution Report: museum directors respond, featuring Tristram Hunt (V&A), Nicholas Thomas (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge) and Dorgerloh

Legal challenges remain for restituting African artefacts from French museums

Monday, 26 November 2018

Reading list, 26 November 2018

Better late than never ...

Matariki Williams (curator Mātauranga Māori at Te Papa, Tusk co-founder and The Pantograph Punch contributor) writes about the RA's Oceania for Frieze: Complicating the Narrative of ‘Oceania’.

Follow-up from an earlier link: the Ben Uri Gallery in London is deaccessioning a chunk of its collection to raise funds to widen its remit: the inner circle of trustees has approved this decision, the wider advisory board (stacked with big names) has come out swinging against it: Ben Uri museum advisory board resigns en masse over Sotheby’s sale of works from the collection.

Look for big moves in repatriation next year: from the BBC, 'Stolen friend': Rapa Nui seek return of moai statue; from the Art Newspaper,  'Give Africa its art back', Macron's report says.

I'm considering an overnight trip to Sydney before March especially to see Nick Cave's installation at Carriageworks - Nick Cave on his darkly exquisite new work: ‘Is there racism in heaven?’

Glenn Lowry's contract has been extended at MOMA - if he serves his full term through to 2025, that will be 30 years in charge. He got the job in 1995 when he was 40.

The Gray Market goes deeper into a recent report published in Science about how artists' careers are made or broken on the basis of a small number of key galleries & how fast they get into them. Good graphs. Still my best weekly email newsletter.

A dual interview with Phyllida Barlow and Anna Maria Maiolino in the NYT MagazineTwo Pioneering Artists Discuss Motherhood and Machismo.