Saturday, 27 May 2017

Reading list, 27 May 2017

It's been a while since I focused on museums & digital, so here's a gathering of links:

ACMI's Lucie Paterson writes up the recent US Museums and the Web conference, and also her visit to trial all the flash things at SFMOMA.

Lucie's post introduced me to an aspect of the new SFMOMA that I hadn't heard of, the interactive gallery exploring the photography collection, poised next to a cafe. Check out the video here.

The Knight Foundation announces $1.87 *million* in funding for digital projects at 12 US museums.

This whole thing squiks me out but it's probably the (near) future: Giving art a voice with Watson: Art comes to life with AI for Brazilian museum goers.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Reading list, 20 May 2017

I've held off posting a reading list for a few weeks because my reading - or at least, the bits that have stuck - seems to have been so dominated by the New York Times. But maybe it's better just to clear that all out and start again.

One of the contrasts I regularly draw between New Zealand and American art museums is that ours lean very heavily towards the contemporary (bar touring blockbustery shows). Robin Pobegrin looks at how the balance between the now and the thousands of years of culture collected in American museums plays out in ‘Encyclopedic’ Brooklyn Museum Vies for Contemporary Attention.

Seeing the Habitat complex at twilight on a freezing Montreal day, as thin ice plates nudged up against the walls of the harbour, remains one of my most special visual memories. Blake Gopnik reminiscences about Growing Up in a Concrete Masterpiece.

I'm thinking a lot about the Pictures generation right now. Roberta Smith profiles Louise Lawler and her new survey at MOMA in Louise Lawler’s Stealth Aesthetic (and Muted Aura).

Louise Movius's Fake Rain Room gets permanent home in Shanghai looks at unauthorised versions  of the Rain Room design experience being produced in China.

The World Cities Culture finance report (link to a PDF) is way more interesting than it sounds, assessing how major 'world cities' support and fund culture.

In The Art of Complaint, Peter Ireland looks at Grahame Sydney's latest interview crying neglect upon his work by the art establishment.

Adrian Luis on Dismantling Diversity in Museums - for another take, Paula Morris's Making noise for more Māori writers, in which she quotes Marlon James's complaint that diversity is ‘an outcome treated as a goal’.

Sitting in the Fashion section for some reason, but Jennifer Miller's Suffering for Your Art? Maybe You Need a Patron gives a good overview of new models of artist & writer patronage.

Keir Winesmith assembles a list of links to Recent readings on diversity, equity and inclusion in museums

Not art or art world, but terrific writing and/or interesting reporting:

Willa Paskin's The Other Side of Anne of Green Gables, on the new tv adaptation of the classic book series.

Susan Dominus's moving, thoughtful and clear-eyed Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage? (Also - check out those uncanny-valley portraits)

Lucia Moses on How Jessica Lessin used her reporting chops to build The Information (aka to build a subscription-based news site that's financially successful).

A fascinating long read on fast fashion and why Britain dominates here by Chavie Lieber for Racked.


Monday, 8 May 2017

Co-option

Last year I wrote a column for Art News New Zealand about the co-option (possibly flattering, possibly not) of the concepts of 'museum' and 'archive' to brand experiences (such as Glade's 'Museum of Emotions', part of their campaign to promote new room sprays).

Recently two examples of this floated across my feeds. On the one hand, the Museum of Icecream (lying at "the sensory intersection of sweet tooth and Instagram") has migrated from New York to LA, and now includes exhibits tailored to sponsors, including Soylent.

On the other hand, the Adirondack Museum has rebranded as 'The Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Lake Mountain' in a move "designed to lure more visitors to its sprawling 121-acre indoor-outdoor campus". Locally, the Wellington Museums Trust has rebranded as Experience Wellington.

Now I'm just waiting for the Museum of Experiences.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Reading list, 22 April 2017

Anne Helen Petersen on The Radical Feminist Aesthetic Of "The Handmaid’s Tale" (the tv series); follow it up with the New Yorker's profile of Margaret Atwood by Rebecca Mead.

This show sounds amazing: Adrian Searle reviews Queer British Art 1861-1967 for the Guardian.

A real long read: Helen Rosner argues The Real Legacy of ‘Lucky Peach’ Is How It Looked on Eater.

Holland Cotter on MOMA's Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction for the New York Times:

These shows are invariably moving, surprising and adventurous. The present one certainly is. But they have too easily become a new normal, an acceptable way to show women but keep them segregated from the permanent-collection galleries. In other words, they are a way to keep MoMA’s old and false, but coherent and therefore salable, story of Modernism intact.

Yet another dissection of Thomas Campbell's ejection from The Met - scroll down, it turns out the failing gift store was at the bottom of it.

A truly terrific interview with Kara Walker, by Doreen St. Félix for Vulture.

Philip Kennicott's review of visiting the Kusama exhibition at the Hirschhorn like a normal pleb is less whiny and more thought-provoking than the headline would suggest: I went to Kusama and all I got was this lousy selfie.

The Los Angeles Times is running a series on what L.A. would look like without government arts funding.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Reading list, 15 April 2017

Emma Ng has been commissioned by Design Assembly to write four essays over the time between the American and New Zealand elections - she kicks off with 'What does a fact look like?'.

Calvin Tompkins was clearly writing this New Yorker profile on painter Dana Schutz well before the controversy erupted over her work Open Casket (an interpretation of the famous photo of murdered African American teenager Emmett Till in his coffin) at the Whitney Biennial. His piece helpfully provides more context on the artist and her career up to this point - as well as some insight into her own feelings on the outcry.

New(isH) Auckland free magazine Paperboy is commissioning some great arts writing. Here's Anthony Byrt's piece from their recent issue focused on homelessness, 'How artist Kalisolaite ‘Uhila made a statement by vanishing into the streets'.

Queueing this up for the weekend - Artsy's latest podcast, on the history of the white cube gallery.

This would be comedic, if it weren't so demoralising: 'Jeff Koons’s New Line'.

A fascinating read from Rachel Cooke for the Guardian: 'Eric Gill: can we separate the artist from the abuser?'

Tim Murphy interviews e-Tangata co-founders and editors Tapu Misa and Gary Wilson as BWB Texts publishes a best-of selection of essays from the site.




Saturday, 8 April 2017

Reading list, 8 April 2017

The British Museums Association annual survey reveals deep cuts to public funding, accompanied both by closures and increased revenue and philanthropy generation.

Auckland Council will commission an independent review of major cultural institutions and facilities, to address a set of concerns about influence over how Council-provided funding is invested and strategic alignment of the region's cultural asset. The link includes Tim Walker's 2015 report on 'Investing in Auckland cultural infrastructure'.

Gina Fairley outlines the debate over moving the Powerhouse Museum (MAAS) to Parramatta.

Busted by data: Colleen Dilenschneider asks whether mobile apps are worthwhile for cultural institutions (hint: she says no).

Tonya Nelson writes a short but incisive piece on succession planning in museums, based on the current Met melt-down.

I'm fascinated by Damien Hirst's comeback narrative & project.

The University of South Australia plans to open a 'museum of ideas'.

One of my favourite current writers, Kyle Chayka, contributes to The Paris Review's series on artworks that influenced people by talking about invigilating an Anselm Kiefer.

Kris Sowersby of Klim Type Foundry on the new typeface he has designed for Trade Me.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Reading List, 1 April 2017

Hugo Robinson interviews Lana Lopesi on writing art criticism.

Zita Joyce writes on 'The Brooding Elitist Relationship-Wrecker: Tropes of Art and Artists on Narrative Television' for Pantograph Punch.

Hilarie M. Sheets for the NYT - 'Gender Gap Persists at Largest Museums' and the full report from the Association of Art Museum Directors.

ArtNews pulls together a variety of opinion pieces on the controversial inclusion of Dana Schutz's Open Casket, a painting based on photographs of murdered African-American teenager  Emmett Till. Many of the pieces reference Hannah Black's open letter, which has become the wellspring of many published responses. Roberta Smith's article for the NYT references similar criticisms of Kara Walker's early work in the 1990s, a moment I wasn't aware of. Missing from the round up is Antwaun Sargent's editorial for Artsy, Unpacking the Firestorm around the Whitney Biennial’s “Black Death Spectacle”.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Reading list, 25 March 2017

The NYT design pages are often preposterous, but in such a soothing way. If you need a warm-bath article this week, try 'What Happened to Traditional Floral Bouquets?'.

Large amounts of the blame being apportioned around Thomas Campbell's resignation from the Met are tagged to his digital efforts - which were seen by those inside the digital world of museums are important and instructive. Here's William D. Cohan for Vanity Fair on 'how a former wunderkind—and his mission to modernize—became a toxic mix for one of the world’s most powerful cultural institutions'.

As we move further away from shared experience of the Second World War, the director of the Anne Frank House explains that 'our visitors don’t always have sufficient prior knowledge of the Second World War to really grasp the meaning of Anne Frank and the people in hiding here ... We want to make sure that Anne Frank isn’t just an icon, but a portal into history.'

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Reading list, 18 March 2017

Indian author and MP Shashi Tharoor on the need for a museum communicating British colonisation of India.

US technology writer Farhad Manjoo on the cultural supremacy of the camera (and Snapchat).

Margaret Atwood's introduction for a new edition of The Handmaid's Tale.

Teju Cole's latest essay 'A Photograph Never Stands Alone'. Also, he's coming to Auckland Writers Festival.

Kyle Chayka for Racked on why gray clothes feel appropriate now.

The full New York Times special museums section.

Ugh. There's loads in Daniel Grant's Observer piece 'The Admission Fees Are Too Damn High' that I disagree with (like the tone of "art museums around the country are struggling mightily to make themselves appealing to millennials and to what we now call “diverse” audiences by creating their own apps, as well as by acquiring and exhibiting contemporary art, as well as art by women, latinos, Africans, Asians and whomever else", let alone "Pleasure and prestige for museum curators and directors is acquiring more works for their permanent collections, not in seeing more and different people come through the doors.") But the central thesis - that American museums could divert some of their major acquisition funds into defraying admission charges - is interesting. His argument that America's entrance charges are the only thing keeping wider audiences away however is disputed by the data.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Reading list, 11 March 2017

Showing how Michael Parekowhai's The Lighthouse will become an icon of Auckland: Simon Wilson's first column for the new Auckland focus of The Spinoff uses the public art work to outline its kaupapa.

Science historian and writer Rebecca Priestley shares a reading list for her MA in creative non-fiction.

In the States, 'downsizing boomers' start donating their artworks (no mention of the tax incentives).

There is a mild irony to this article about "the greatest single loss of cultural artefacts from Britain", given the general British museum stance on repatriation.

'Can I have some more?' - Shelley Bernstein on the Barnes Foundation's latest lessons from visitor-testing their new interpretation for their galleries via smart watches.

Colleen Dilenschneider on the reputational boost to MOMA since they rehung their galleries to focus on artists from the Trump administration's travel ban countries.

Josh Niland for Hyperallergic on the Max Beckmann painting that changed American art museum collection policies in the 1970s (and still affects today's collection management).

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Reading list, 4 March 2017

File under here-we-go-again: Dorothy Howard's 'The Social-Mediafication of Museums' for Canadian Art.

Sheila Regan, 'In Mainstream Museums, Confronting Colonialism While Curating Native American Art', for Hyperallergic.

Looking outside my own sector - Ballet Austin conducts research & audience experiments into understanding how people might move from being attendees at 'traditional' performances to 'contemporary' performances. It's all about removing the gulf of the unknown.

Gearing up: Thomas P. Campbell's 'The Folly of Abolishing the N.E.A.' for the New York Times. Campbell has of course since announced his resignation as director of the Met.

Ross King for Aeon on how Monet & the Impressionists were introduced first to American collectors, and via collectors to the museums: 'How wealthy Americans grew to appreciate the French Impressionist painter – as an artist but also as a financial asset'.

'Losing Streak' by Kathryn Schulz  for the New Yorker - an essay that goes from humour to heartache in one elegant spiral.

Why do a blockbuster for free? Mark Garrison's 'Yayoi Kusama exhibit is an economic puzzle for museum' for Market Place.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Reading list, 11 February 2017

MOMA protests Trump's immigration executive order by replacing works throughout its 5th floor collection galleries with works by artists from the seven banned countries. A pointed, powerful and on-mission gesture.

Pippin Barr on the difficulty of displaying water in the (video game) gallery.

Mary Pelletier for Hyperallergic on the gypsum-window workshop at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque.

Alexandra Lange for Curbed: "The forgotten history of Japanese-American designers’ World War II internment".

Robin Pobegrin for the NYT: "Is the Met Museum ‘a Great Institution in Decline’?"

Anthony Byrt for Paperboy on Michael Parekowhai's new Auckland public sculpture, The Lighthouse.

Colleen Dilenschneider on a drop in the US "High-Propensity Visitor Confidence Index" (the expressed interest from current non-visitors to visit a cultural institution) since the US election. This sounds dry, but it's actually quite fascinating.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Reading list, 4 Feb 2017

Seb Chan's annual end of year wrap

An in-depth article on free museum admission in the Atlanta context

With rumoured cuts to the NEA and America, Art News goes into its archives to find examples of tension between political decision-makers and the arts funding organisation.

Fascinating longer read: Patrick Sisson's 'How Your Mall Sausage Gets Made in Columbus, Ohio'.

Devin Leonard in Bloomberg Business Week: 'George Lucas Can’t Give His $1.5 Billion Museum Away'.

The latest from Good, Form & Spectacle - a new tool to explore MOMA's exhibitions data.

By Graham Bowley, for the New York Times: What if Trump Really Does End Money for the Arts?


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Reading list, 28 January 2017

Very NYT biased - must still be slow news season.

Adam Nagourney profiles LACMA director Michael Govan and his mission to reshape the museum's campus; Govan commissions photographer Vera Lutter to document the buildings that will be demolished using a camera obscura.

Roberta Hughes recaps the 25-year history of New York's Outsider Art Fair and positions "outsider art" as an alternative narrative to Conceptual Art in an interesting way.

Joshua Barone profiles designer Irma Boom and her development of a library of radical book design.

The NYT magazine produces 25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going, noted especially for the design of this interactive feature.

Yale produces principles on renaming - canvassing the vexed issue of monuments and buildings named for people whose beliefs and actions no longer fit with social mores. (Download the PDF here)

Incoming Tate director Maria Belshaw on the art that stood out for her in 2016.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Reading list, 14 January 2016

I'm really enjoying the writing on Racked right now. Here's Cory Baldwin interviewing designer Liz Pape on her decision to publish in detail the costs of producing her garments.

When is a sad burger excusable, and when is it not? NYT food critic Pete Wells, profiled in the New Yorker last year, gave a zero stars review to a chain of LA restaurants trying to improve food options in different neighbourhoods. Eater explores Wells' reasoning and tracks the backlash.

danah boyd's 'Hacking the Attention Economy' looks at how hacking of mainstream media has transitioned from lulz to serious political impact.

On my last trip to the US, the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis stole my heart - largely because of the coherence of its identity, which spread all the way from language classes to exhibitions to the cafe. So I was fascinated to read about Sweet Home Cafe, the restaurant inside the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

Thomasin Sleigh's 'Babies and time: The stolen and beloved minutes, weeks, days, nights and years' is a wonderful read, regardless of whether you are a parent or not.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Tiny Letter newsletter update

I've been writing a weekly newsletter using Tiny Letter since April last year. As part of my new year mental clear out, I'm changing my approach to this newsletter.

Previously, I've largely focused on a longer and more elaborate version of the Reading Lists I publish here every weekend. However, the most positive feedback I've received on the newsletter has been occasioned by more personal essays, like this one about watching pro wrestling, or this one about getting my purple belt.

So, to reduce the number of deadlines in my life, and to push my writing a bit, I'll be using the newsletter from now on to explore the personal essay format. If you'd like to subscribe here's the link.

This blog will keep being a repository for interesting things I've read, presentation and talk notes, and publishing pieces of writing I've produced elsewhere.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Reading list, 7 January 2017

Bloomberg Business Week's round up of the best articles (published elsewhere) in 2016 is full of gems - I particularly like how it ranges out to food journalism, a topic I read very little about but always enjoy when I do.

Glenn Fleishman for The Atlantic on the history and internet-enabled decline of the curly quote.

Wesley Morris for the NYTVisiting the African-American Museum: Waiting, Reading, Thinking, Connecting, Feeling.

A virtuoso breakdown of the influence of one of my most favourite ever songs: Kit Lovelace's 'All Mapped Out' for Popbitch.

Rob Walker's 'The Year in Nine Objects' for The New Yorker. More end of year lists like this, please.

Another instance of the evolution away from advertising-funded arts coverage: a Buffalo radio station will add an arts and culture desk this year, producing around 50 segments on local culture, supported by two philanthropic groups.