By Deb A.
This week Donald Trump will become president of the United States, and galleries, schools and other art institutions are being urged to close for the day in protest. Already over 130 artists and critics, including Cindy Sherman, Joan Jonas and Richard Serra, have committed to joining the J20 Art Strike and not working that day. The strike is being held in solidarity with other disruptions, such as the Women's March on Washington, but the move has quickly come under criticism.
Some have claimed, somewhat arrogantly, that an art strike is just as irrelevant as art itself is in America's current political climate. Others have noted that for those who may be searching for inspiration or solace on the day, a closed museum is a missed opportunity. The role of art is to challenge, inspire, comfort and provoke; removing it from society for a day is counterproductive. Why protest "the normalization of ... a toxic mix of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, militarism, and oligarchic rule" with self-censorship?
Which leads us to the real issue. Removing one's presence for a day is a symbolic way of showing dissent. But it is well within the reach of members of the art community to go a step further in making their point, simply by reaching out instead of withdrawing. Create protest art. Waive entrance fees. Raise funds and awareness for institutions that might be under threat. Volunteer. Resist, reimagine... but don't disappear.
Regardless of its efficacy, the J20 Art Strike is a promising indication that American artists are ready and willing to unite and take political action. They will have four years ahead in which to perfect their technique.
By Deb A.
Happy new year, dear Readers! Here are a few items that might have slipped past you during your holiday celebrations.
Really, we could start and end this list right here: Jeremy Irons reads T.S. Eliot for BBC's Radio Four. The five-part series that ran on New Year's Day also includes commentary by Jeannette Winterson and other guests.
Joe Fassler at The Atlantic pulled together writing advice gleaned from his 15 interviews with writers in 2016.
A £5 note tucked into a Christmas card turned out to be one of four notes featuring a 5mm engraving of Jane Austen. The notes are estimated to be worth 10,000 times their face value. Two more remain unfound: British Readers, check your wallets for Graham Short's creations... you might not be able to see the portraits, but you can look for serial numbers AM32 885552 and AM32 885554.
The Guardian has kicked off "a series dedicated to culture that can uplift us in 2017" with six thinkers and creators sharing the works they rely on for a fresh burst of energy.
Art critic and writer John Berger died at age 90 on January 2nd. His "Ways of Seeing"--a BBC television series and subsequent book--tackled traditional thinking about art, including the relationship between art and advertising and the objectification of women: "to be naked is to be oneself; to be nude is to be seen by others and yet not recognised for oneself. A nude has to be seen as an art object in order to be seen as a nude."
Hyperallergic offered up its list of The 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World.
Agave Magazine contributor and 2008 Texas Poet Laureate Larry D. Thomas released a new e-chapbook, Plácido, featuring original artwork by Steven Schroeder.
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