Welcome to our weekly guide to art writing that’s not about us:
Carolina Miranda interviews Kara Walker about her sugar sphinx. Walker: “Anyone who sort of came of age in the ’70s and ’80s has a sense of some of the battles, the civil rights battles. The black arts movement came along with all of that, [saying] art should be made for black people, about our stories, and should be represented in a positive light. I think that as a visual artist, that was always sort of a foundational issue, something to battle with. Trying not to feel trapped by that expectation from within the black community, but also from a larger mainstream art community. And a broader community that has a jaundiced view of what a black person might say, that somehow what [a black artist does] might have nothing to do with anything that is of interest to a non-black person — as if we’re not all in this together.”
Alison Herman picks up on the part of the interview where Walker said the vulgar selfies people took in front of the sculpture were “not unexpected”: “Appalling as some reactions to the installation were, those reactions were making Walker’s point for her. The artist’s awareness of that before, during, and after the exhibit’s run only adds to the work’s strength. All those selfies didn’t detract from the impact of A Subtlety; they were playing right into Walker’s expert hands.”
Hrag Vartanian interviews Lise Soskolne, core organizer of the Working Artists and the Greater Economy (WAGE) certification program, who says: “[T]he practice of non-payment, partial payment, and overall inadequate compensation has placed an unfair financial burden on artists for far too long. What might at first seem unfair [to some arts organizations] may in fact be the beginning of a challenging process of reordering institutional priorities — it is within and because of this process that the paradigm will begin to shift. We anticipate that changing entrenched perceptions of the nature of artistic labor will be an uncomfortable exercise for some organizations. For others it will be a natural extension of what they are already doing.”
Jen Graves on Ann Hamilton’s new exhibition at the University of Washington’s Henry Art Gallery, consisting of the scans of dead animals: “Arranging an animal on a scanner for the first time was emotional. Hamilton is not a scientist, not an observer with conventional goals, so she was seeking other ways of honoring the creatures she held and laid out. The first several portraits felt tender. But after an arkful of repetitive handling, the emotional poignancy faded.”
Thieves make off with the Art Institute of Chicago’s most valuable docents, “reports” The Onion.
Not The Onion, but a nice piece of satire: Harbeer Sandhu “reports” that Houston’s Olympic Motel, the site of the world’s first private prison, will also be the site of the world’s first private-prison museum.
Swamplot notes that Sandhu’s yarn is “only slightly more bizarre than the true story behind the birth of the Corrections Corporation of America, the world’s largest for-profit prison operator, in the still-operating Olympic Motel at 5714 Werner St. (less than a half-mile down I-45 from Gallery Furniture). Fences, barbed wire, and iron bars went up on the former hot-sheet motel in early 1984 to create the world’s first for-profit private prison, a detention center for 87 undocumented immigrants. Much has changed in the private prison industry since those humble feeder-road beginnings, where several detainees were able to escape by dislodging the air-conditioning units and climbing out through the holes.”
Hayes Brown on Jim Dessicino‘s 9-foot-tall statue of Edward Snowden: ““The first person to see it was Glenn Greenwald right when we took it out of the van,” Dessicino said, making clear that the picture wasn’t staged. “He was just having breakfast. One of his friends came over and was like ‘…Is that Edward Snowden?’ ‘Yes it is!’ ‘Well, that’s Glenn Greenwald!’” Greenwald apparently was a fan of the piece.”
Greenwald might also be a fan of our next exhibition, Miguel Amat: Dark Pool Knight Vision, which opens from noon to 2 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 19 Amat’s multidisciplinary practice raises questions about the function and representation of opacity and elusiveness within the dynamics of repression in Venezuela and the interdependence between the U.S. military and financial industry. As far as we know, Greenwald won’t be in town, but if he is, he’s more than welcome to join us, and so are you.