A Culture Wars Chronicle
As identity politics made their way into galleries and museums in the ’80s and ’90s, social conservatives took note, lashing out at artists like Robert Mapplethorpe, Karen Finley, and Ron Athey for work that addressed sexuality, multiculturalism, and LGBT rights. Featuring many of these artists, the Walker found itself at the center of the conversation—and the controversies—that marked the Culture Wars.
The Political Provocations of Keith Haring
John R. Killacky
Keith Haring’s activism, delivered in his trademark effervescent candy-colored pop aesthetic, is alive and well in works featured in Keith Haring: The Political Line, now on view in San Francisco. Reviewing the exhibition catalogue, former Walker performing arts curator John Killacky examines Haring’s provocations, from guerrilla postings of agitprop collages to works commenting on AIDS, crack, and racism.
Indeterminate Adventures with Cage
Composer John Cage’s visits to Minneapolis often veered toward the unexpected—from a late-night reading of James Joyce with Tony Smith to Sunday-morning mushroom hunting in a church yard.
Joan Rothfuss and Olga Viso
With an eye toward the future, and across disciplines and geography, the Walker’s collecting practices have long sought to support artists early in their careers. Looking at works in Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections, the exhibition’s curators tell the stories behind well-timed purchases of favorite works by artists including Chuck Close, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman, and Za Wou-Ki.
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.”
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.”