The Walker Curates the News: 12.22.14

Renzo Martens at the Walker Art Center, 2013. Photo: Gene Pittman

Renzo Martens at the Walker Art Center, 2013. Photo: Gene Pittman

Like Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo, artist Renzo Martens wants to build an “extravagant and beautiful” arts center in the jungle, and next month he’ll begin to realize his five-year plan: he’s moving his family to the Democratic Republic of Congo to continue work with his Institute for Human Activities. It’s not a joke, he says: “I mean, it’s funny to call your programme a central African gentrification programme, but I’m basically putting a white cube in the forest to see what it does.” As The Guardian‘s Stuart Jeffries writes, he imagines that Congolese artists will sip cappuccinos in the jungle “while discussing, say, critical strategies in contemporary art practice, just as they do in Shoreditch and Brooklyn.”

  • Can art be equal to the challenge of our times? While art may not appear to be successfully encapsulating the present state of affairs, it has become about the “artists, called upon by political circumstances, trying to find a new language to respond in present cultural conditions of omnipresent urgency”: Ben Davis on the state of art in our new protest culture.
  • Installations illustrating ethnographic studies, architecture media serving as evidence of political crimes, and artifacts staged as dioramas: A growing range of art involving “speculative archaeology” aim to uncover the hidden infrastructures of our society.
  • Known for photographing everything from members of the queer community to ice-fishing shanties on frozen Minnesota lakes, Catherine Opie has a new subject: Carrie and Fred from Portlandia. Her photos make up the campaign for the show’s fourth season.
  • Jerry Saltz and Matthew Weinstein discuss how art culture trumps pop culture: Under the theory called “Gaga’s Law,” there is a “strange calculus in which the fame of a celebrity fades as the celebrity approaches the gravitational sphere of the art world… Celebrities cannot grasp onto art content without first offering themselves up as sacrifices to the artworld.”
  • In a society that places increasing value on “views” and “clicks,” can we look at attention economically? The difficulty lies in holding attention, argues Jason Read. In the age of memes and trending, “Attention must be constantly reconstituted in the present.”

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