Hello, faithful Filthy Dreams readers, and welcome back to Drag Them To Filth. What’s that noise? Is that your blood boiling? Ours too. It’s time for this month’s wrap-up of the most extensive sigh-inducing arts-related reading on the Internet. So grab a cocktail or five and let’s start hate-reading:
1. Artnet News, Gallery Hopping: ‘Harumi’s Gals’ Embody Retro Japan’s Perfect Woman at Project Native Informant
“Harumi Yamaguchi’s illustrations depict the ideal woman: ambitious, sensual, stylish.” According to journalist Caroline Elbaor, the perfect woman is also white with European features and there is nothing inherently disgusting or racist about this statement.
Japanese artist Yamaguchi’s works from the 1974-85 plainly indicate a casual infiltration of white supremacy, in which white beauty standards replace Japanese ideals and proliferate a fetishization of whiteness. Her work is an example of how Japanese women began teaching themselves to not value their own bodies while actively being anti-black. However, in typical white feminism logic, the writer thinks Yamaguchi’s work is a positive demonstration of confidence building, in which women are deconstructing male desire by being depicted as “driven, fashionable, and—perhaps most importantly—completely self-assured in their abilities, appearance, and sexuality.” This nonsensical writing also suggests there were never self-assured depictions of Japanese women to begin with until white women showed them how it’s done. Ghost In The Shell, the sequel, anyone?
2. Whitewall, Whitewall Icons: Jeff Koons in Conversation with Stephanie Seymour
Tl;dr this article summed up in one gif:
Y’all, it’s 2017 and we are sick of narratives that justify exploitative labor, as demonstrated in Stephanie Seymour’s incredibly imaginative and oblivious writing: “Jeff’s 50 or so assistants all seem to be connected to his vision, never seeming discontent, working alongside him as if by remote control.” Nevermind that he just fired his studio assistants en masse for attempting to unionize.
This interview was like what the “popular kids” in high school considered riveting subjects:
SS: Was your dad handsome?
JK: I always thought he looked a bit like Sean Connery when he was younger.
SS: I bet he was handsome — he must have been very dapper and stylish to have been a decorator.
JK: You would have really liked him, Stephanie.
Jeff Koons and Seymour proceed to gush over his incredibly narcissistic “Made in Heaven” series, which they claim relieves guilt and shame towards white cis heterosexual male sexuality. Aside from being bored, insulted, and embarrassed by this unnecessary piece of arts writing, we wondered in earnest if there still remained ways to criticize the rich in a way that was heard.
3. Frieze Academy, Queer Art: Then and Now
While not an article per se, this listing for a lecture by Frieze Associate Editor Paul Clinton presented by Frieze Academy is so closely connected to a publication that it receives its rightful place in our monthly list of grievances. This is mostly due to its contribution to the continued clickbait-ification of “queer art.” Now, it would be one thing if this lecture was sponsored by a publication with a long history of supporting marginalized identities and placing their work in its proper context. But, well, Frieze isn’t exactly this publication. They just have their finger on the pulse of what sells now: identity.
It’s as if Ariel Goldberg’s The Estrangement Principle didn’t already point out enough problems with the label “queer art.” Here comes Frieze Academy to further annoy with its confusing definitions. *QUEER QUEER QUEER CLICK CLICK CLICK* “What exactly do we mean by queer art?” the listing begins, “Is it art made by gay, lesbian and transgender artists? Or is it work that challenges those labels and political agendas?” Mmmmm…yes.
The question afterward is the real kicker: “Does queer art begin in the 1980s with AIDS activists’ groups like Gran Fury or should artists from the 19th, 18th and 17th centuries be included?” Ok, even if you thought the lineage of queer art should begin in the 20th century (No), why would you start with the 1980s? Was Warhol not queer enough for you? How many drag queens did that swishy queen have to shove in his films in order to be queer enough for you, Paul?
But, hey, we’re here to learn right? Good thing Paul’s got such a well-rounded lineup of artists to discuss in his lecture to school us on queer history: “Focus will be given to artists as diverse as Robert Mapplethorpe, Bupen Kakhar [sic], James Richards and Jacolby Satterwhite.” So inclusive, such comprehensiveness! Ignoring the clear typo in Bhupen Khakhar’s name (those exotic, nonwhite names are so hard, amirite?!), this diversity apparently only extends to cis men artists. How refreshing!
Remember Hettie Judah from our last Drag Them To Filth? I hope she remembers us. Question: Does Hettie want to be the next Tomi Lahren? Milo Yiannopoulos? Otherwise, what is going on with her constant references to “liberal guilt”? Girl, get a gig on Fox and be done with it.
Hettie starts off her bizarre wrap-up of the sexually-driven art at the Venice Biennale, a show that seemingly every critic hates with a wild passion, musing, “As a corollary to the heavy menu of post-colonial guilt, migration-related tub-thumping and an abstract, queasy panic induced by global capitalism, this year’s Venice Biennale is letting off steam with an abundance of carnal knowledge.” Hold on a second. I don’t think anti-colonial critique is the same thing as post-colonial guilt and what is this “migration-related tub-thumping” of which you speak? Yes, it is so horrible and tiresome that artists are finally engaging with issues of migration and globalization that are defining our current world politics.
She concludes, “Certainly the tendency toward artist as documentarian—with its suggestion of forcing encounters with uncomfortable truths—is one among many tendencies at Venice this year that arguably spring from and invigorate a compulsion to liberal guilt. The distraction of spicy fantasy is understandable.” If anyone should feel guilty, it’s Hettie for peppering her review with weird conservative buzzwords. Is Breitbart hiring?
5. BOMB, Gallery Crawl Lower East Side
What the hell is Brienne Walsh’s deal? Is she ok? If you ever want to know what a public nervous breakdown would read like from an art critic, well, wonder no more. This article is, simply, a way too personal and meandering dive into batshit crazy from beginning to end. The entire post is so intensely filled with “WTF” moments that it could really use its own separate Drag Them To Filth. But, we’ll take you through some of the more insane bits here. I guess there’s a reason BOMB’s newsletter gets dumped into my SPAM folder.
Brienne begins by imploring readers: “But do you know how impossible it is to do fucking anything when you’re the primary caretaker for an eight-month-old child? I had to physically threaten my husband, and then give him a foot massage, in order to coax him into staying home with our daughter for just a few hours, allowing me to set foot outside.” So Brienne is clearly in a fragile state from the get go. And she later references, “I had to return to the prison of my own making that is my life as a mother.” Anyone want to check on her family?
And boy, it only spirals from there. First, she didn’t bother to confirm gallery hours and tried to go to Sargent’s Daughters at 10am. Why did she go there? Oh, “because I know the owner, Allegra LaViola. Occasionally, she invites me to cocktail parties.” Well, aren’t you special!
Angry that the gallery was closed, Brienne loses her mind on East Broadway and in searching for new galleries, she drops in on unsuspecting Martos Gallery’s Invisible Man. Looking at the article now, days after publishing, I see either BOMB or Walsh herself deleted the most offensive section. But, guess what? Nothing on the Internet goes forgotten, suckers. It read, “The show is, apparently, a home for ‘invisible bodies.” Like ghosts?” Walsh apparently never took high school English or cannot recognize in her haze of white privilege the continued relevance of Ellison’s novel in 2017. Nothing like a pinch of racism to solidify an already bonkers article.
After describing another show as “a wall of prints that each look like Banisadr took a shit, wiped his ass with a piece of paper, and then framed it,” she, then, can’t find Salon 94–a not-hidden gallery. But before that, she has to suddenly reminisce about an interview at JTT with a stinky rude artist that left her “too emotionally scarred to finish the piece.” How does she still have a job?
Still looking for Salon 94, Walsh writes, “I pulled out my phone. Where the fuck was Salon 94 Bowery? It’s the sort of gallery that services people who breakfast at that Eurotrash restaurant in the Bowery Hotel. It would surely be open. I almost walked by it, engrossed in the plight of homeless men wandering in and out of the nearby Bowery Mission.”
Now my question is: is this satire? Or is Walsh really a dumpster fire of a garbage person? She unfairly writes about Jayson Musson’s exhibition: “Musson is someone who adeptly satirizes the art world, but somehow can’t really come up with anything original in his own practice.” We couldn’t have critiqued Walsh’s essay better ourselves.