Why hello there, dearest Filthy Dreams readers! Do you feel a burning sensation in your chest? Is your face getting hot? Are your eyes stinging? Stop Googling symptoms of a heart attack (though if your arm is numb, call 911). We know what that feeling really is: white-hot rage, most likely caused by some horrendous arts-related writing that some editors had the audacity to publish untouched. While we trailed off on our proposed monthly series Drag Them To Filth, distracted by the mesmerizing movements of GIFs, I thought it was high time to return to tearing up and dressing down some of the biggest anger-inducing abominations on the Internet. Sure, it’s been over a year since our last DTTF post, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been secretly seething or stewing in silence, particularly in the past few months. So grab a cocktail (or a bottle), breathe deeply into a paper bag and lets get to hate-reading:
The first sentence of an article is always important. It’s that hook that captures the reader’s attention and leaves them wanting more, more, MORE! Thankfully, Suzanne Hudson over at ArtForum knows just how to rope readers into her overview of the Carnegie Museum of Art’s 57th Carnegie International with this fascinating line: “Pittsburgh is a city of three rivers and many more bridges, the latter cutting across steeply rising banks verdant and overgrown from a year of record rainfall.” Oh, wow! Please go on! I’m intrigued, captivated, transfixed. If only all articles started with a line ripped from an almanac or The Weather Channel: New York is a city of buildings! LA is a city of smog!
Despite the use of “verdant” in the first sentence, which suggests Suzanne is well acquainted with Thesaurus.com, she apparently didn’t feel the need to use it later, as the rest of that first paragraph attests. After pointing out that the Carnegie International features “boosterism to be sure, homegrown pride cut with unapologetic, but equally homegrown camp” (wat) because curator Ingrid Schaffner is from Pittsburgh, a weird slight akin to calling Schaffner and anyone else from Pittsburgh a “townie,” Suzanne describes Alex Da Corte’s installation Rubber Pencil Devil, which references Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Heinz 57. Though she invokes camp in the previous quote, Suzanne couldn’t apparently think of any other word to describe Da Corte’s use of “seasonal marketing signs (Christmas wreaths, Valentine cupids and grinning Jack-O-Lanterns)” other than “dumb.” …really? Dumb. That’s an ArtForum-approved word choice. If I were more inclined to get on top of the social justice warrior soap box like a Facebook commenter, I would point out that the use of that word is ableist. Did they edit out “retarded”? But as I’m just ranting here, I’ll note that it’s not only offensive in the context of presuming that suburban middle class Party City schmaltz shown in a Rust Belt City is stupid, which is just some snotty, tired hierarchical art world bullshit, but it’s also lazy as hell. What about descriptive words like kitschy, tacky or my favorite, of course, trashy that harken to a lineage of bad taste. That’s just dumb.
What oh what would a Drag Them To Filth list be without the appearance of an Artsy listicle? Incomplete, that’s for sure. Though I had to reach back a couple months for this particular stinker, it was the first piece that sparked my drive to drag since I usually just ignore whatever ignorant rubbish is spewed out on Artsy. Written by Alina Cohen, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this listicle of art critics only includes a smattering of women (the big three hyper-serious stalwarts: Linda Nochlin, Lucy Lippard and Rosalind Krauss) and one…just one critic of color: Xie He who was writing in the 6th century. Apparently, nobody else who wasn’t white changed how we see art in the last 15 centuries. For her part, Alina acknowledges the sheer blinding whiteness of the listicle, writing: “The list, admittedly, comprises predominantly European and American white men. For centuries, they’ve dictated what artwork has been seen and appreciated…Diverse critical voices don’t just offer new perspectives on art: They change how we look at the world, beyond the frame.” Uh huh…then why not make a point to also include a wider range of voices. Is it really that hard, Artsy?
NYC icon Taylor Mac was recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I’ll repeat that, Taylor Mac, in one of the grandest examples of the underground coming aboveground, recently reached the televisions of Middle America in a multi-colored streamer get-up. Mac not only sang Patti Smith’s rousing “People Have The Power,” just one of the songs in Mac’s marathon tour-de-force 24 hour A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, but judy also had a moment in the hot seat, chatting with Colbert on everything from protest songs that define community, how to incorporate Trump into the history of America and of course, Mac’s chosen pronoun judy. It was an incredible appearance–one that was highlighted by Luke Darby in GQ who, amidst the praise, ironically refers to Mac as “he” throughout the piece, despite the interview segment in which Mac explains judy and how the term subversively camps up every cis buzzkill who wants to eye roll at non-traditional pronouns (“Oh, JUDY!”). I guess Luke missed that part. A five or so minute interview is long. In the conversation, Mac also hilariously mentions, “I don’t get crazy if someone doesn’t want to use it. That’s your choice–sad for you!” so maybe Luke took that as a go-ahead to both heap admiration on the interview, while subsequently ignoring all judy’s points. Lame!
It’s also rare that I can use a GIF of the performer I’m referencing so enjoy:
Apparently, in 2018, a woman artist has to pass the #MeToo test…whatever it is that means. I can’t wait to rethink Mary Cassatt in relation to #MeToo either. You can just feel the galaxy brain exploding in Martha Schwendener’s review of Sarah Lucas’s current career survey at the New Museum as she compares Lucas’s art to the age of #MeToo, as well as, Martha writes, “an age of fluid gender identities.” The New York Times seems to remain under the impression that gender fluidity is a new thing. Gawd. Haven’t they read my tweets? Anyway, not all Martha’s critique is wrong, she’s certainly correct about the privilege inherent in some of Lucas’s art like many of the Young British Artists of her generation, but it’s also important to remember the time in which the art was made. The 90s were full of white rebellion (remember Reality Bites?)–doesn’t mean you can’t take what’s valuable and toss the rest. The kicker though? Martha also forgot to mention the name of the show’s co-curator Margot Norton, instead crediting the entire curatorial process to…you guessed it…a man–Massimiliano Gioni. Whoops!
Anyway, my critique is really best expressed in meme form:
You know how I feel, Filthy Dreams readers? Flattered. I’m so flattered. They like me! They really like me! If I’m being honest, though, flattered wasn’t how I really felt when I learned about the sneaky and all-too-coincidental similarities between Wendy Vogel’s “Incorrectly Female” in Mousse Magazine and my review of Smack Mellon’s group show Laugh Back here on Filthy Dreams. In fact, I considered giving it all up since I apparently wrote something so disgustingly palatable and accessible to people who actually enjoy participating in the art world that it could be usurped into something so boring. THE HORROR!!!!! WHAT HAVE I BECOME?! *stares in the mirror* I never wanted to write anything worthy of stealing for mainstream purpose!
Don’t believe me? Well, just check out the Hannah Gadsby intro (with the same quotes), a hint at certain people who have described Dynasty Handbag’s creative output in relation to “queer failure” (could have at least given José Muñoz a shout) and a suspicious reference to “breast analysis,” which the performers Inner Course personally shoved in my hands to learn all about what breasts are “biddyish.” Originally, I was going to just plagiarize Mousse back on Filthy Dreams and see how long that would take to incite a response since my original emailed concerns went ignored. But instead, I’ll just cite Nicki: What’s good?