Monday 20 July 2020

Reading list, 19 July 2020

If you click one link, make it this: Statistics New Zealand is consulting on proposed changes to the statistical standard for sex and the statistical standard for gender identity. There is a lot of information there but the survey itself provides enough context with each question for you to choose your responses. Responses close on 13 August. 

A fascinating and deeply sad tweet thread by art crime professor Erin L Thompson, about the Ahnighito Meteorite, in the American Museum of Natural History, exported from Greenland by a white explorer, Robert Peary, and accompanied with 6 Inughuit, including a 7 year-old named Minik and his widowed father.

Curator and art historian Dr Kelli Morgan has recently resigned from Newfields (the Indianapolis Museum of Art that was), describing the workplace as toxic and failing people of colour: late last month she published an essay, To Bear Witness: Real Talk about White Supremacy in Art Museums Today. The essay - though not targeted at Newfields - sits alongside this article by Aaron Green for Artnet, ‘We Were Tired of Asking’: Why Open Letters Have Become Many Activists’ Tool of Choice for Exposing Racism at Museums.

To listen - Alice Procter on RNZ with Kim Hill, talking about colonial looting and problematic museum collections, off the back of her recent book The Whole Picture: the colonial story of the art in our museums and why we need to talk about it.

As the statue debates play out throughout colonised countries what happened in Bristol over the last few weeks really made me think: The day Bristol dumped its hated slave trader in the docks and a nation began to search its soul (when the statue of Edward Colston was toppled); 'Hope flows through this statue': Marc Quinn on replacing Colston with Jen Reid, a Black Lives Matter protester (Quinn whips up and guerilla installs a replacement statue); Black Lives Matter sculpture of Jen Reid removed from Colston plinth (the mayor sends the sculpture to a museum).

On the monuments debate - The Art Newspaper has started pulling together decades of commentary on public sculpture.

Sunday 12 July 2020

Reading list, 12 July 2020

Gosh - 2 months between posts. I think that probably says a lot about my post-lockdown focus, and the fact this weekend was the first in weeks where I've had time to sit down, clear my feedreader, and actually read some of the articles backed up in in ....

Swiss artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp - an important feature of the French avant-garde and Dada movement - is being brought to prominence by some major players, as this NYT article describes. She worked across abstraction and applied art, from colour-schemes for architectural plans to sculptures and paintings. Part of the newly focused attention comes from a Hauser & Wirth exhibition, and I'm sure that's part of mega-galleries moving their attention to older or dead women artists with a substantial back catalogue to be presented. I'm taking by Sheila Hicks' comment at the end of the article:

Taeuber-Arp’s complicated legacy is exactly what appeals to contemporary artists like Sheila Hicks, who is known for her sculptural textiles and counts herself as a Taeuber-Arp fan. 
But Ms. Hicks — who is based in Paris, a foreigner in the city as Taeuber-Arp was — has her own take on the gender politics of the past. 
“Her husband had a powerful personality, and it was a free ride into the inner circle,” Ms. Hicks said. “She wouldn’t have had that without him.” She added, “It was a challenge to live in those times and achieve her goals.” 
“I hope they don’t make her out to be a tragic figure,” Ms. Hicks said of “Living Abstraction.” 
“I love the agility of this person who was multitalented, and who was partnered with this super-popular guy,” she said. “It was a win-win.” 
Major American philanthropic organisation the Mellon Foundation is re-focusing all its funding towards social justice outcomes.

Australian museum authority (worker? leader? observer? and good friend) Michael Parry on the NSW government's decision to retain the MAAS (Powerhouse Museum) location at Ultimo and also move ahead with its Parramatta development.

Two fascinating podcasts I've listened to whilst out running in the freezing cold dark nights we're currently enjoying: Stuff's CEO and new owner Sinead Boucher on The Fold (I'm particularly interested in their new focus on public trust and accompanying coverage of the reduction on clickbait they're publishing) and activist Julia Whaipooti on the Brazen podcast

A New Yorker interview with American-born, Berlin-based philosopher Susan Neiman about how Germany has faced its Nazi heritage through politics, education, high and popular culture and actions of redress and compensation, and how the United States might address its own racist heritage.

Two pieces I really benefitted from reading on E-Tangata recently: In defence of call-out culture by Khylee Quince, and Only a global movement can eradicate racism, an interview between Moana Maniapoto and Angela Yvonne Davis.

Vu Le's Non-Profit AF is one of sites (like E-Tangata) that I prioritise right now. This article really opened my eyes: Have nonprofit and philanthropy become the “white moderate” that Dr. King warned us about?

And finally - I'm not sure when this happened by I'm just delighted to see The Dowse Art Museum collection (getting) online.