Art / Filthy Fictions / Trash

Two Men Argue About Artforum: An Art World Farce In One Act

“Just as I thought…TRASH” (photo by author)

At least in the art world, this week felt like it was almost solely dedicated to yelling about Artforum and its continued connection to known creep and former publisher Knight Landesman, despite the magazine’s attempt at “wokeness” under their new Editor-In-Chief David Velasco. Hyperallergic’s “Art World Largely Silent As Artforum and Landesman Continue to Fight Harassment-related Lawsuit” sparked the debate, detailing the current state of Amanda Schmitt’s lawsuit against Knight and Artforum, who are both seeking to dismiss the suit. Naturally, social media burst into flames. It shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that the loudest voices seemed to be men. Surprise! So much so that it has turned into a farce, with the issue of the treatment of women in arts-related workplaces getting more and more distant. So I thought I’d push it one step further and make it into an actual farce. As Charles Ludlam says, “You are a living mockery of your own ideals. If not, you have set your ideals too low.” Any resemblance to actual persons’s Twitter battles is purely coincidental, of course:

Two men stand in line at the Chelsea Joe Coffee on 23rd and 9th. Art World Ken 1 turns to his friend behind him and strikes up a debate:

Art World Ken 1: Did you read Hyperallergic’s article about how the art world has been completely silent on Artforum and Knight Landesman trying to dismiss Amanda Schmitt’s lawsuit? Apparently, Knight still owns part of the company. The art world must really hate women.

Art World Ken 2: Oh please. Hyperallergic and all the other art blogs are just jealous and resentful of Artforum’s clout and readership. Nobody wants to read their dumb blogs. Who reads blogs anyway? It’s 2018!

Art World Ken 1: I think you’re missing the point. Literally nobody is talking about it!

Unnamed Woman 1: Well I said–

Art World Ken 1: (Interrupting) NOBODY! Nobody has said anything until now. Not one person. And what about Artforum’s supposed task force of women they were making after the Knight business came out? Why don’t we hear from any of THEM? Why is this task force so silent?

Unnamed Woman 1: What I was trying to–

Art World Ken 1: (Interrupting again) Not even #NotSurprised said anything until now. A little late if you ask me. I would have published it sooner.

Art World Ken 2: All I had to know is Artforum stopped responding to emails. And anyway, all those blogs have such bad writing. Sure, I care about women, but the writing sucks so I can’t read the articles. Blogs would be the last people I’d call to report on MY assault.

Art World Ken 1: But what about the hypocrisy of attempting to visibly care about women in the magazine while trying to dismiss a woman’s lawsuit who was sexually harassed?

Art World Ken 2: David Velasco said, in his editor’s letter in January, that intersectional feminism is important to him. So what more do you need. Anyway, Jerry Saltz wrote that “an Artforum that needed to disappear is gone.” Jerry’s word is good enough for me to know Knight’s reign of terror is over.

Art World Ken 1: Yes, Jerry has always been such a feminist, especially on his Instagram. So I don’t understand how he doesn’t see what’s going on at ArtForum.

Female Joe’s Coffee Worker: Uh…excuse me. Do you two want to order anything?

The two Art World Kens wave her away while still standing next to the counter as people jostle past, grumbling

Art World Ken 2: You can’t deny that changes are being made though. They got rid of stodgy Michelle Kuo and replaced her with a fresh face–David Velasco. Sure, he’s not exactly new to the magazine, but he’s a new voice. I mean, there’s a lady’s giant fist on the cover of this month’s issue. Could there be a more obvious sign of their dedication to feminism? And how about Sarah Nicole Prickett’s “Serious Sex Battle: The Myth Of The Wonder Woman”?

Art World Ken 1: Yeah but….

Art World Ken 2: It’s the longest since Michael Fried!

Art World Ken 1: Yeah but…

Art World Ken 2: She mentions Beyoncé!

Unnamed Woman 2: Does anyone remember this is about Amanda–

Art World Ken 2: (interrupting) Maybe you just don’t get how feminist it is. You’re not feminist enough to appreciate its importance. I must be more of a feminist than you.

Art World Ken 1: I doubt that. I’m a committed ally. But, Sarah also refused to take David to task in that fluffy fashion magazine Sssense. Clearly, that was her opportunity and she didn’t grab it. She just asked her boss softball questions. Don’t women want to call out this hypocrisy?

Art World Ken 2: Well, why wasn’t Michelle Kuo held to task? And why isn’t she still?

Art World Ken 1: What’s important now is obviously how to save Artforum. No matter how I feel about it now, the magazine is essential.

Art World Ken 2: But the other magazines and lame blogs aren’t helping. What about that image of Pope L.’s 2015 Artforum cover that Artnet News used in their article? Couldn’t they have used the strong, bold feminist image of a woman’s fist? It was shady.

Art World Ken 1: But didn’t they choose to print that cover two years ago?

Art World Ken 2: Sure but why is that David Velasco’s fault? It was a low blow, just like the image of David and Knight in the Hyper article. Sure, it is a thing that exists but how insulting!

Art World Ken 1: I don’t know…they looked like BFFles to me.

Art World Ken 2: STOP!

Art World Ken 1: Buddies.

Art World Ken 2: NO!

Unnamed Woman 3: Can I squeeze by you to order my–

Art World Ken 1: (interrupting) Pals.

Art World Ken 2 grabs his head, screams and runs over to the milk and sugar display where starts tossing sugar packets. He flips over a cup of stirrers. The female Joe’s worker, watches deadpan, readying herself for clean up duty after his tantrum ends.

Art World Ken 2: NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOO!

Art World Ken 1: (continuing) You’re on the wrong side of history. Artforum is Trump. Artforum is Trump. We–

Unnamed Woman 3: Maybe–

Art World Ken 1: (interrupting) We should be listening to women’s voices now more than ever.

Art World Ken 2 stops his rampage short.  

Art World Ken 2: I guess that is one thing we can agree on.

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