Twenty-nine Washington Color School paintings hang in the CIA’s headquarters, but details about them are mysteriously confidential. Despite extensive bureaucratic roadblocks, a lack of images of individuals works, and very little information to go on, artist Johanna Barron remains undeterred. For her project, Acres of Walls, she has recreated the works using a single image of their hallway of residence and a book about the CIA. The project challenges what Barrons has dubbed the government’s “knee-jerk lack of transparency.”
- Tonight in Times Square, Laurie Anderson puts on a concert just for dogs before a shortened version of her documentary, Heart of a Dog, debuts on the electronic billboards. Of the sights, smells, and sounds of Times Square, Anderson says “It is a dog friendly place–for dogs that are very curious!” The abridged Heart of a Dog “explores the moment between life and death, with a collage of shifting images, many shot from a dog’s point of view.”
- In the new year, history meets internet sensationalism. BBC producer Roland Hughes dissects the steps of a photo going viral: on Twitter, a dramatic image of drunken New Year’s Eve revelry in Manchester attracted art lovers worldwide. The photo was compared to Renaissance paintings, adapted in the style of Van Gogh, and analyzed according to the golden ratio.
- Ai Weiwei spent the days surrounding the New Year’s holiday with migrants and refugees on the island of Lesbos. The artist took to social media to raise awareness for the refugees’ plight. He chronicled his time on Instagram, where he shared a video of a rubber dinghy arriving on the Greek island from Turkey. A photo featured him holding a child’s life vest, “an object that has come to symbolize the human cost of the migrant flight.”
- “You can take that insulation and figure you’re an old guy and you [already] did your thing… Then something inside me gets reminded that my ‘thing’ is what makes me alive — to be able to have a camera and an idea and an urge that gives me pleasure.” Activist and two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler has passed away at age 93. Known for his vaunted work on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and Bound for Glory (1976), he also directed Medium Cool (1969); a feature preserved in the National Film Registry.
- On the same day, the art world lost another great–American abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly, at the age of 92. Kelly, who lived in France for most of his life, was relatively isolated from his American Abstract Expressionist contemporaries. “The result was a deeply personal and exploratory art, one that subscribed to no ready orthodoxies, and that opened up wide the possibilities of abstraction for his own generation and those to come.”
- “International denotes, if only ideally, a confederation of equal yet distinct traditions; global indicates, on the contrary, either the erasure of geographic difference…or the emergence of neo-imperial hierarchies.” David Joselit reflects on two exhibitions that seek to “decolonize Pop”—the Walker’s International Pop and Tate Modern’s The World Goes Pop. On the importance this investigation: “In assessing the ‘birth of the now’—our borderless, neoliberal fantasy of a timeless global contemporary—history has never been more important.”