Well, hello there dearest Filthy Dreams readers! What’s that? Are you ready to fume? Us too. Why, we find ourselves so horrified, enraged and just a bit amused by the nonsense editors dare publish these days that we’re starting a new series here on Filthy Dreams–Drag Them To Filth. Here we’ll provide a monthly wrap-up of the most ridiculous, eye roll-inducing, tone deaf art-related writing on the Internet. So grab a cocktail or five and let’s get to hate-reading:
Artsy’s listicles aren’t exactly renowned for their critical genius, but that shouldn’t let writer Daniel Kunitz off the hook here. While unsurprisingly most of the “ideal male bodies” are white cisgender men, the last addition is the most eye-poppingly offensive. Kunitz includes Frank Benson’s sculpture of trans artist and DJ Juliana Huxtable as one of the “ideal male nudes.” If that trans erasure wasn’t enough, it gets even better in his commentary. It starts: “Does the penis make the man?” Um…no, read up on gender, Dan.
And almost impossibly, the description only gets worse: “While some traditionally male features remain, like confidence, alongside traditionally female ones, like grace and smoothness, the work suggests that agency, the power to create oneself, has become the supreme ideal.” Ok let’s back up a bit. Traditionally male features….LIKE CONFIDENCE. And female ones…LIKE GRACE AND SMOOTHNESS. On one hand, I’m speechless. But, on the other hand, while I’m over here typing all graceful and smooth, I have to wonder if Kunitz is not a bit correct because it took a certain level of blind (male) confidence to even write that sentence not to mention the whole listicle.
“Queer? British? Art?” Who? Starts? An? Article? Like That? It’s a more creative version of scare quotes. If Hettie Judah’s article was just that intro, it would be given a pass but somehow she had to double-down with this thought: “No doubt there will be wild ructions amongst our self-appointed language police at Tate’s liberal interpretation of all three in its new exhibition “Queer British Art: 1861–1967.” Ooook, Breitbart.
If you’d recall, ranting about language policing is the new favorite tool of the alt-right. At least Milo has the courtesy to be campy when he’s doing it. This is just a lame attempt to create some controversy around a queer-focused exhibition, which, by all accounts, seems quite tame. To be fair, it could be worse. Hettie could have called it “Screamingly Camp Art” like The Telegraph. We think they meant as a “flirting with homophobia”-esque slam, but we took as the ultimate compliment. Who wouldn’t want to go to that?!
3. Hyperallergic, How the 1960s and ’70s Counterculture Queered Fashion
We don’t have the mental energy right now to rant and rave about the cooptation of the word queer as some sort of art-related clickbait, rendering it meaningless. That’s a topic for another longer exhaustive post. But, we want to focus on the baffling last sentence of this review of the Museum of Arts and Design’s hippie dippie Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture. Sarah Archer concludes, “Men with long hair may have been sporting a visual rejection of “square” society, but they were also (perhaps unwittingly) paving the road for queer identities to be seen, recognized, and even celebrated in fashion and society at large.” Um…what?
While we worship Jim Morrison as our decadent hero as much as the next denizen of filth, I’d still like an explanation. I guess cis men with long hair really did a whole lot more than queer people who fought, marched, were arrested and beaten so that they could present their identities visibly. Who needs Marsha P. Johnson throwing that first brick at Stonewall when you can have long-haired guys in San Francisco! And yes, we know, to some extent, this article was referencing the Cockettes. But, they ushered in queer visibility with pounds and pounds of glitter and mascara, not just long hair.
4. Artsy, A Brief History of Drag in the Art World
Hello, Artsy, we meet again. Apparently, according to this train wreck of an article, Black artists never did drag or else, “brief” means “Let’s forget about Black people.”
Journalistic integrity is dead. In a recent interview, Awol Erizku begs, “If there’s anything Beyoncé or anti-Trump in the headline, I’m just not really interested. I just don’t want—I wouldn’t want to see an article be like ‘Beyoncé photographer says this.’” Within what I’m sure the editorial team thought was an ironic joke about his statement, there lies a disturbing demonstration of journalistic power actively denying their subject agency over their own self-identification. Is it possible to be remembered in the United States without being measured by your proximity to celebrities? I suppose not.
You can’t expect reliable editorial content from Artsy, known for their clickbait listicles that are often guilty of tokenism and siloing marginalized groups according to their appearance rather than their talent or artistic merit. But when an effort is made to hire the ex-editor of Modern Painters, we set our expectations a bit higher. Besides lazily beginning and ending every pseudo-paragraph with a quote, the writer also claims that Anicka Yi’s olfactory artwork was meant to (emphasis our own) “conjure two very distinct beings in tandem: Asian-American women, and ants.” We’re wondering which Asian-American women and ants the writer has smelled, and if he thinks Yi made an accurate concoction.
What does it mean for Yi to mix the scents of women from her own ethnicity/gender with a stereotypically ignored, hardworking, obedient pest? We are never asked to inquire deeper, because Yi’s Guggenheim fellow exhibition is treated in other publications like VICE’s Creators Project as a zany playground for your drug trip.