The Walker Curates the News: 01.25.16

Deborah de Robertis

Deborah de Robertis, Facebook

Examining nudity “in the real world,” performance artist Deborah de Robertis recreated the nude in Edouard Manet’s Olympia in front of the work itself. In a telling parallel with the painting whose nude was met with shock in the 19th century, de Robertis’s body was immediately covered, and the artist was removed by Musée D’Orsay security. Released after two days, she said, “The museum is perfectly happy to use nudity when it comes to encouraging people to come to the exhibition, and there are even pornographic films being shown in the museum, but when it comes to a contemporary artistic performance like mine, they don’t recognize it as art, and they censor it.”

  • For the second year running, no African American actors have been nominated for Academy Awards, a fact that prompted the return of the hashtag #OscarSoWhite—and a statement by Charlotte Rampling, herself a 2016 nominee, that such complaints are “racist to whites.” She says, “One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list.”
  • Meanwhile Steve McQueen, the first (and only) black director to have ever won a best picture Oscar, linked this moment to the recently unearthed 1983 clip of David Bowie decrying MTV’s race-based programming decisions. “I don’t even want to wait 20 years,” McQueen said. “Forgive me; I’m hoping in 12 months or so we can look back and say this was a watershed moment, and thank God we put that right.”
  • Last week, an Internet icon celebrated its 15th anniversary. The Creators Project looks back on Wikipedia’s relationship with the art world. What started as a source for information on art (and everything else) quickly became a source for creative inspiration. Here, a sampling of “artworks and projects that grapple with the behemoth of at-our-fingertips information—minus a bit of human error—that Wikipedia has become.”
  • To Western audiences, popular media presents largely essentialized representations of the Syrian conflict. Artists and writers share how photography can reframe and diversify such representations. Isaac Kaplan writes that “Syrian photographers and images of the conflict, when imbued with an emotional complexity absent in the pages of newspapers, can perhaps, ever so slightly, shift our focus for the better.”
  • 2016 marks the 100-year anniversary of the battles of Somme and Verdun. Looking back, the UK’s art program 14-18 commissions artists to create pieces commemorating World War I. Ciara Phillips, Yinka Shonibare, and others have been tasked with “looking beyond the carnage on the Western Front, responding to the changing role of women during the war, the experience of refugees then and now, and how troops from India rushed to France and Belgium as the British Army’s casualties mounted.”
  • A new Brooklyn Museum show explores how artists address public concerns, touching on issues from racism to LGBT activism. Reflecting “how multiple generations of artists have tackled the same concerns over time,” Agitprop! will add new works  over the course of the show. Featured in the show are such activists as Coco Fusco and Adrian Piper.
  • Why is so much great art in storage? As works by well-known artists go unseen, museums try figure out how to “decrease the size of stored collections, or at least prevent them from growing at an unsustainable rate.” It’s not a straightforward task. Quartz unpacks the process of finding out how much of an artist’s work is on view, discussing institutional culture, the accuracy of available statistics, and the role of online databases.

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