Initially commissioned as a birthday gift for Hugh Hefner, Jann Haworth’s soft-sculpture Playboy Bunny got a new life following a sexist encounter at London’s Playboy Club in the mid-1960s. A celebrated Pop artist and co-designer of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, Haworth tells the tale of Maid (1966), a “working girl” who isn’t a mere sex object for men.
It’s Complicated: The Institution as Publisher
What does it mean for a museum to function as a publisher now, in 2015? Publishing is no less complicated an endeavor within an institutional context than it is in the external “real” world, where the presence of a consumer-grade Internet began altering the social production, consumption, and distribution of text some decades ago, writes the Whitney Museum of American Art’s digital media director.
“Pop Cinema at Its Best Pop”: George Kuchar’s Hold Me While I’m Naked
“Here is the most macabre sense of humor at work,” wrote Jonas Mekas in 1964, introducing young filmmakers George and Mike Kuchar to Village Voice readers. “Here is the Pop Cinema at its best pop… Here are banality and corniness transposed into their grotesque opposites.” Critic and International Pop Cinema curator Ed Halter looks at the Pop sensibilities in George Kuchar’s Hold Me While I’m Naked (1966).
Natascha Sadr Haghighian
A rubber raft filled with passive world leaders, their arms locked in unity. This image—an uncredited mashup circulated online—combines a photo-op of western politicos at the Paris Charlie Hebdo march with a more recent tragedy: the deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean. It’s an apt metaphor, writes Natascha Sadr Haghinian, for an EU refugee policy that’s hopelessly adrift.
An Activism of Affirmation
An Xiao Mina
From #BlackLivesMatter to the #UmbrellaMovement, the Web helps artist-activists inform, inspire, and organize around key issues. But art can play a special role within social-change movements as well: It can help transform the Internet into a space for affirmation, self-worth, and emotional healing.
Tania Bruguera: Artivism and Repression in Cuba
Leaving her Havana home on May 24 after a 100-hour public reading of The Origins of Totalitarianism, Tania Bruguera was intercepted by police—again. After releasing a white dove and throwing Hannah Arendt’s book into the sky, she was driven off in what Cuban curator Gerardo Mosquera calls “a unique case in art history: a street performance that was completed in response to its very repression.”
Why the Hell Ornette Went All Up In Eden
“It’s hard to think of any musician whose sonic convictions have been so personally liberating for themselves and so determined to liberate others,” writes Greg Tate of Ornette Coleman, who passed away June 11. “His music did all the things jazz was supposed to do, but in ways that made everybody else, from Coltrane to Cage, sound like they were too fixed, ordered, calibrated and two-dimensional.”
Taylor Renee Aldridge and Jessica Lynne
When a white, male critic wrote that African-American artist Alma Thomas’s paintings echo “the special middle-ground pleasures of domestic life,” Taylor Aldridge and Jessica Lynne wondered: How might this assessment look if written by a Black critic?
Light and Freedom: William Klein’s Pop Politics
Of his first film, a study of illuminated advertising signs in New York City, William Klein remarked, “I think it’s the first Pop film.” Critic and curator Ed Halter examines the Pop resonances in Klein’s work, from the beauty and the “brain-washing” quality of Times Square signage in Broadway by Light (1958) to the politically charged Vietnam-era satire Mr. Freedom.