Why hello there, dearest Filthy Dreams readers! We made it! To the end of 2017 that is. We know–we didn’t think it would happen either. Since the end of the year pretty much makes wrap-up listicles mandatory, we thought we’d grudgingly accept by counting down our favorite art world social media meltdowns of 2017.
2017 was a year of meltdowns, from the President’s daily tweet blasts of addled nonsense to the countless art world controversies (and goofy, tone-deaf, or just plain alt-rightish institutional responses). So why wouldn’t art world figures likewise spin out of control over the Internet? They did, and we were watching. While institutions of the art world typically hide behind PR companies, social media platforms provide an ill-advised yet all-too-tempting forum for some to exercise hilariously poor judgment, proving exactly why they are in desperate need of a PR company.
These frantically typed moments of trashy hysteria are rarely captured for posterity. Many are too easily deleted in regret, shielded behind quickly changed privacy settings or vanish into the ether, but we saved the receipts. Without further ado, here are our top 5 art world social media meltdowns of 2017, organized in superlatives:
Most Likely To Show White Male Solidarity: Artists Ryder Ripps and Jordan Wolfson
After Chinese writer Mengna Da penned a summary of a Q&A with Jordan Wolfson and Aria Dean at the New Museum, in which Wolfson refused to admit or confront his white privilege, particularly in relation to the use of violence in his work, conceptual artist Ryder Ripps took his outrage to–where else?–Instagram. Ripps fumed, like an outtake from Milo Yiannopoulos’s failed manuscripts, “How about not writing about art from the angle of its relationship to a trans or black or white or gay person?” Sure, we’re sick of identities being used as clickbait by certain publications too, but Ripps, instead, seems to be demanding less visibility for minorities on publications. Note: Ripps has since made his Instagram private.
Shortly after, Wolfson responded with his own sub-gram. There’s no better way to prove that “I am not a racist” like saying “Fuck you” to a woman of color.
Most Likely To Tweet Like A Conspiracy Theorist: Curator Mia Locks
Nothing says, “I’m giving a calm, reasoned response to being trolled” than all-caps. Just to refresh your memories, in the midst of the Dana Schutz-gate, someone–a hero–sent a letter claiming to be Dana to a selection of publications apologizing for her painting Open Casket and requesting that it be removed. In love with whatever mastermind penned this letter, which read like the ideal response from the artist, we, here at Filthy Dreams, offered this anonymous ambitious idol a job. But others weren’t so amused, namely Whitney Biennial co-curator Mia Locks.
Sure, her canned responses to the criticism of Schutz’s painting were more tempered, filtered through numerous rounds of PR team edits in order to avoid acknowledging criticism and praise themselves for opening conversation. But with the addition of this “fake news” letter, Mia finally had enough. She lost it, net-screaming into the Twitter abyss about hoaxes as if rambling about aliens while sporting a jaunty tinfoil hat.
And if you’re wondering, yes, our job offer for the unnamed letter writer still stands.
Most Likely To Wage A Sudden One-Woman War: Gallerist Jane Saks Cohan
When artist Omer Fast redecorated James Cohan Gallery’s Chinatown location to look like a poor, ramshackle fiction of what it once was, local Chinatown artists and activists took the time to outline the offense. Not only did the gallery or the artist fail to acknowledge any wrongdoing, but gallerist Jane Saks Cohan (hopefully, after a few cocktails while the rest of the gallery wasn’t looking) stormed the comments section of Hyperallergic’s reporting on the protests to go apoplectic and sound her own personal battle cry, just like in Braveheart but without the rest of the troops. When you think about it, it makes sense–there’s certainly no better forum for reasoned response to criticism and debate than a comment section. After claiming to be an advocate of free speech while calling criticism by people of color “censorship,” Cohan attacked the press (bizarrely might we add–why is she talking about choking?) and not-so-subtly described the blogazine as spam:
Least Likely to Take a Joke: Editor Scott Indrisek
Even though your faithful co-founder Emily loves antagonizing people, especially Trump supporters, over the Internet, from time to time, someone unexpected loses their marbles over an unpredictable and pretty innocuous thought. Case in point: Scott Indrisek, now Deputy Editor of Artsy. The offending tweet compared Dana Schutz’s Open Casket and the Whitney’s refusal to admit fault to Pepsi’s hilariously awful “activist” commercial starring Kendall Jenner, which twisted the aesthetics of Black Lives Matter protests to suggest systemic racism could be solved if someone, preferably in the Kardashian clan, offered police a cola product. It’s worthwhile to note the Pepsi ad, unlike Open Casket, was pulled with an apology.
Anyway, tweeting lightheartedly about Schutz’s love of a particularly un-PC soft drink obviously got under the skin of a particular editor who, after shouting into the void to “DEAR GOD PLEASE STOP” in exasperation at the comparison, delivered the greatest compliment possible in a quoted tweet: “welcome to everything stupid about the 2017 internet in one tweet.” I feel as if I’ve won an Academy Award. Who should I thank first? You like me! You really like me!
Most Likely To Conflate Criticism With Death Threats: Co-Writer and Associate Producer Mark Blane
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson was a terrible film, which mostly transformed Johnson’s life of activism into a lurid cold case crime documentary. Don’t tell that to the film’s co-writer and associate producer Mark Blane though. After publishing a review, which in part engaged with fellow activist and artist Reina Gossett’s account of the documentary’s alleged plagiarism, Filthy Dreams’s co-founder became one of the strangely chosen targets for Blane’s frustration with any and all negative responses to the film. In retrospect, Blane’s tweet-storm shouldn’t have been a surprise given his blustering Twitter handle: “Hurriblane Mark.” First, Blane tweets that the film’s production included 30 “Queer kids of ALL COLORS.” Hot tip: a great way to prove you value QPOC is by pointing them out as useful examples when you get in trouble.
But wait! There’s more! A second tweet arrived soon after, mentioning death threats received on social media. What does this have to do with our essay? Don’t ask us. Even though we fantasize about leading our own cult one day on Filthy Dreams, we haven’t yet achieved this long-term goal (maybe in 2018!) So our masses of minions have yet to be called on a particular target-let alone one we never heard of until his flurry of finger-typing rant. Note: Soon after, Blane made his Twitter private.
Did we miss an important and especially juicy social meltdown of the year? If so, send us the receipts at firstname.lastname@example.org or just add them in the comment section (why not? Everyone else is doing it!).