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ArchiveVisual Arts Articles
The Ruins of the Culture Wars
“How has the national culture changed over the past half-century that we could elect a black president? Just as important,” writes Jeff Chang in his new book Who We Be: The Colorization of America, “how has it not changed?” Chronicling the rise and fall of multiculturalism through the lens of visual culture, Chang looks at political and aesthetic struggles for racial equity, inside the art world and out.
The Internet Is More Powerful than China
“You can never know what is and what is not powerful, but you can always find out what the powerful people are scared of,” says Ai Weiwei. “A state like China looks so powerful, but they are so scared of the Internet, so the Internet is more powerful than them.” Journalist Ben Valentine visits with Ai in his Beijing studio to discuss art and the enduring potency of online activism.
“It’s Art If I Say So”
“And what exactly is it that you do, Mr. Duchamp?” That question was posed to the Walker’s guest one fall evening 49 years ago during a dinner in honor of Duchamp and his wife, Teeny. “Well,” the 78-year-old exemplar of Dada coolly responded, “I play chess.” Former Walker director Martin Friedman recalls Duchamp’s 1965 visit to Minneapolis and their conversations about readymades, Precisionism, and Pop.
A Seat at the Table
Nicole J. Caruth
The metaphor of the table evokes images of folks coming together to break bread or discuss personal and political issues. For Seitu Jones and Theaster Gates, the table is more than a metaphor; it’s a medium. In the Twin Cities, their tables are provoking dialogue about systemic reform, in local foodways and cultural institutions. Can these conversations effect change? Or is the change the conversation itself?
“A female shaman for the McLuhan age,” Juilliard-trained cellist Charlotte Moorman is best known as Nam June Paik’s formidable collaborator, often performing nude as she activated his avant-garde works. In this exclusive excerpt from Topless Cellist, art historian Joan Rothfuss explores the creation of Paik’s TV Bra for Living Sculpture, a send-up of the nation’s addiction to “electronic breastfeeding.”
Beyoncé the Readymade
“A machine, a high-powered Porsche, hip-hop technology. She consumes everything around her.” In Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room, this is how Beyoncé is discussed—as an overwhelming force of capital that takes over our senses. With Lemon’s work as a jumping-off point, performer Okwui Okpokwasili recently met with scholar Saidiya Hartman to discuss the iconography and cultural consumption of black women’s bodies.
“If you’re the head of an empire and see that an unarmed youth is gunned down by the police and your advice is for people to be calm,” writes Dread Scott in his essay on Michael Brown’s death, “your rule is illegitimate.” Taking his name from the slave who unsuccessfully sued the government in a St. Louis court, Scott salutes protesters in Ferguson while decrying those who aim to control them through force.
The Art of Response-ability
“We’re interested in this idea of taking something that is permanent, that seems incontestable, and rendering it fragile, ephemeral, open to questioning,” said Jennifer Allora, half of the art-making team Allora & Calzadilla. Ten years after the duo’s Walker residency, we republish a 2004 conversation on their early projects, including Chalk (1998), a now-iconic work just acquired for the Walker collection.
On Roots and Reckoning
“How we tell our histories matters just as much as what we say,” writes art historian Catherine Damman in her reflection on Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art. Noting that the exhibition’s artists—representing three generations—are in constant dialogue, she observes that the contributors all “share a fiercely devoted and yet deeply interrogative relation to history.”