At the eastern edge of East Broadway, the Jewish labor unions of the Lower East Side constructed an extended collection of cooperative apartment buildings, Cooperative Village. The oldest of them, Amalgamated Dwellings, was built in 1929 by Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and includes 237 units in an Art Deco six-story structure occupying the entire block, with a garden in a central courtyard. Across the street, I wandered into the Bialystoker Synagogue, a converted 1826 Methodist Episcopal church, which the congregation purchased in 1906. Being secular, and not feeling at home in religious spaces, I had never ventured inside. It being Saturday evening at the end of the Sabbath, groups of men--only men--sat around doing what can only be called kibbitzing. Young boys ran around the foyer and front steps playing. As I sat in back and took pictures, eventually one of them noticed me and said, no pictures during the Sabbath. Later I stepped out, and he came out to tell me it was OK in a few minutes when the sun would set. Next door, the tiny annex wedged between the synagogue and another coop is a favorite of mine for its scale and use of every little space, like a Gordon Matta-Clark unreal estate interstitial space built into an actual structure.
Toward the other end of East Broadway, I'm always excited to see the 1912 building of the Jewish Daily Forward, the socialist newspaper founded in 1897, designed by George Boehm with bas reliefs of Marx and Engels at the top of the columns. How ironic and perfect that this building was converted into luxury condos in the 1990s! I always associate this building with The Rise of David Levinsky, the novel by Abraham Cahan, then editor of the Forward, about the Jewish immigrant community of the Lower East Side. It's filled with compelling details of Jewish immigrant life, and the struggles of immigrants to rise above poverty, language barriers, and exploitation in the workplace through education and personal striving. The story is centered around the hollowness of profit as a motive for individual ambition. How quaint! Are we at a tipping point when the collapse of the extractive logic of accumulation will redeem the socialist ideals of the early 20th century industrial workers movements and unite us around a post-human recognition of our mutual ecological dependency? What will it take for us to defeat the banks, real estate interests, and industry lobbies, determined to keep us divided by a poisonous partisanship in order to maximize their extraction of profits?
East Broadway from one end to the other is a marvel of neighborhood cultural and small business preservation. This orange kitty Brandy waiting insistently at the door of Sam Wai Liquor Store knows these streets up and down. @jamesandkarla
Saskia Sassen spoke at the New York premier of the Careforce One Travelogues about the empowering results of Marisa Jahn's Careforce project, helping make visible a workforce that is essential to the livelihoods of everyone from high-income earners who require an incredible coordination of household activities to support their economic production to the unpaid childcare of mothers (and fathers), children caring for parents, those who clean up after us, nurses who care for our loved ones, partners who care for partners. The Careforce One Travelogues make a powerful argument for the value of this care through narrative, painstakingly assembled through millions of minute details and decisions about how to convey messages in cooperation with the immigrant workers who are among the most important stakeholders, frequently lacking in legal protections against exploitation. It's an incredible coup to have done this in an upbeat, aesthetically compelling form that has the tone of a Wes Anderson film rather than being didactic or preachy. But, to be preachy, as Sassen points out, we can decide as a society to support this care not only with labor protections but with subsidies of the kind we give to agriculture, industrial production, housing, and banking, just as we can protect students against the gun industry and ease the burden of college loans. @marisa_jahn @thecareforce
Much, much better film than anything I have read about it, go see The Young Karl Marx by Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro, Lumumba). Great, detailed, well-told, timely period drama about the formation of the Communist Manifesto. More than that, it's really about a critical examination of what is urgent in the present moment, how to best understand it in order to spur political change. Seeing it on the day that children in this country had to rise up in order to not be murdered in their classrooms because of the massive multigenerational propaganda campaign by the gun manufacturing industry having captured our government is particularly inspiring. As a prod to analyze how best to organize against the capture of the government by owners of industrial conglomerates rather than a naive celebration of communism as an economic and political theory, it's really profound and important. Also, how late am I to the Metrograph party? What an amazing retro movie theater! #youngkarlmarx #metrographtheater #enough #raoulpeck #communistmanifesto #industrialconglomerate #gunreformnow
I pass by this building regularly on the Newtown Creek jogging up Metropolitan Avenue toward Bushwick and Ridgewood, which recently got covered with a building-scale mural by this company Sky High, apparently part of a company called Colossal Media that paints hundreds of murals around the world every year. Cool example of street artists making beautiful work and making a living through their work by employing good marketing and business sense. Worth looking them up and figuring out how they do it. @colossalmedia @flintpublicart @sandrabranch1 @flintundergroundkid @schipanijoe @aerosol_and_audio @rayallrod
One takeaway from the preview of the Dimensions of Citizenship exhibition for the American Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale is that we can expect intellectual seriousness and inquiry--even academic rigor--as opposed to cocktail party radicalism. They're digging critically into the concept of citizenship and its implications at different scales. I'm excited to be moderating a panel on Humans vs. Robots during the vernissage!
Sculptor Mark Parrish is working on these skypods for the next phase of his Point B residency program in the Hudson Valley, which would be attached to trees as places for immersion in nature and meditation.
Peek into the mossy inflatable natural oasis by Brook Landscape and Jesse Seegers at Collective Design Fair, plus Alex Schweder's inflatable sofa and Lauren Nauman and Ahryun Lee's sculptural porcelain vessels at J. Lohmann Gallery's booth.
A study of three intersecting spheres became a guest house for Steven Holl's T Space residency and exhibition program in Rhinebeck, NY. Story with photos in the upcoming Abitare. Thanks Dimitra Tsachrelia for the tour and hike through the deep snow to Steven's watercolor hut on the lake.
Someone tag the creator of this excellent luggage fountain. @springbreakartshow
Melissa Maddonni Haims at Spring/ Break Art Show @maddonnihaims @inliquidart @springbreakartshow
Alina and Jeff Bliumis, Cultural Tips for Americans Under Trump at Spring/ Break Art Show, written in ink on sandblasted wooden ethnic souvenirs. @springbreakartshow
Funny piece by David Kramer at Spring/ Break Art Show @springbreakartshow @dkramer5000
Lots of excitement in Williamsburg and Greenpoint about starting to envision Bushwick Inlet Park as an ecological connector for the neighborhood and a way to link low-income and diverse constituencies. Susannah Drake's presentation of the historical flows of water and her Queensway, BQGreen, and Lower Manhattan visions inspired this group's aspirations for the park to be a model of ecological waterfront design. One takeaway is that the design process should involve a systematic, holistic look at integrating the waterfront and local parks to address resiliency, flood levels, and connectivity. @dlandstudio @bushwickinletpark
Another note about the mid-century modern Union Carbide building designed by Natalie de Blois for Skidmore Owings and Merrill and its planned destruction by JP Morgan Chase: Prior to the 1960 SOM tower, a 12-story luxury apartment building and hotel by Warren and Wetmore (architects of Grand Central) was constructed on the site in 1917 on top of the newly covered railroad tracks on Park Avenue, half of which was known as 270 Park, the other half Hotel Marguery, both sides sharing a private garden and drive. This was supposedly the largest and most expensive apartment building of its time, designed by one of the most important architectural offices of its time, and destroyed before the establishment of the Landmarks Commission. As much as Jane Jacobs is celebrated in the architecture profession and her values championed, it's astonishing that the destruction of the architectural heritage and human scale of the city continues exactly as it did before 1960. Doesn't this have to do with something bigger and more important than architectural history or an aesthetic judgment about the value of preserving any particular building? Reminds me of something Walter Benjamin wrote: This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.
Amanda McDonald Crowley curated a cool little show called Beautiful Obsolescence at Cluster Art Space with beautiful printed photography by Jeanette May and Adrianne Wortzel and sculpture by Mary Mattingly. Great collection of work by women about obsolete consumer products that all find unexpected beauty in castaway and no longer useful objects that carry traces of another time, are tamed as collected masses, or evoke the uncanny in contrast with nature.
What's undeniably underscored by Ruby Latoya Frazier's documentation of a family's experience in Flint is that Flint has gone from a national symbol of corporate irresponsibly and abandonment in the 1980s to a symbol of the black community's experience of disempowerment, racism, neglect by public institutions, failure of government at all levels to adequately address urgent needs, withdrawal of services, exploitation by financial institutions, disintegration of community, and utter lack of trust or belief in any agency, institution, policy maker, or political leader to tell the truth. If I heard correctly, at this talk Obama was called a mass murderer for drinking the Flint water at a press conference. This total collapse of the public's trust in institutions will be the most lasting and difficult-to-repair legacy of the water crisis, long after the pipes are replaced and the testing indicates water as healthy--or still flawed in ways one can or cannot live with--as any other city. The secondary impacts to economic development, abandonment of public schools, defunding of arts organizations, vacancy of homes, and loss of family wealth will exceed by many orders of magnitude the direct impact of drinking the water on health and educational outcomes. As a native of Flint and organizer of Flint Public Art Project, seeing T-shirts with Flint being identified with racial oppression is difficult, seeming to miss the incredible spirit of cooperation, friendship, and civic engagement across racial divisions that I experienced in Flint as a child and going back as an adult. I hope that one day this story, which Diego Rivera's murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts always powerfully symbolized for me, will also be told, and that without the need for empty boosterism, another Flint will be visible in its renovated downtown, Farmer's Market, community farms and gardens, Land Bank which has been a national model for management of vacancy, and reviving University Corridor connecting its engineering school with the campus of University of Michigan-Flint. Since the water crisis, our organization started an after-school arts program to engage K-6 kids.
A few blocks from where JP Morgan Chase plans to demolish the 52-story Union Carbide building (1960) designed by Natalie de Blois for Skidmore Owings & Merrill--an important landmark of early glass architecture (despite its perfect embodiment of death-corporate environmental catastrophe and exploitation)--to replace it with a 70-story building, the 1,400-foot One Vanderbilt Place skyscraper is currently under construction next to Grand Central Station. To clear the site, they demolished seven smaller buildings, including ones by Carrere & Hastings and Warren and Wetmore. The lecture by James von Klemperer of Kohn Pedersen Fox at Pratt Institute School of Architecture on Monday focused on KPF's supertall buildings in New York, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Seoul, as well as the massive Hudson Yards development, from the point of view of multilevel public spaces that create a vertical integration of a diversity of functions accessible for public use. As he pointed out in regard to many of them, however, all of these public spaces are actually privately owned and in most cases only accessible for patrons of commercial businesses or through payment of entrance fees: in other words, public space as a term has become stretched so far beyond its commonly accepted meaning as to become fairly meaningless as a term. As we as a society increasingly rely on public space as a rare universally accepted good that is supposed to benefit everyone and is supposed to have all sorts of shared benefits, it's time to look more critically at what public space actually is and whether its impact is really a benefit to democratic society. The building owners paid $400 million for the development rights to the city and agreed to fund $200 million in transportation connections and improvements to Grand Central in exchange for a massively profitable land grab and destruction of architectural heritage. While the public review process was extensive and the design may be ostensibly beautiful as an object with many public advantages, who was really aware of this project and who had a voice in what kind of city was being made to replace what was there before?
Creative Time co-founder Karin Bacon, Lower East Side Garden Preservation Coalition founder Felicia Young, art historian Amanda Douberly, and curator of Inventing Downtown Melissa Rachleff joined a lunch hosted by artist Phyllis Yampolsky at Le Gamin to celebrate collaborations together when Yampolsky was organizing Hoving's Happenings at the New York City Parks Department in the 1960s and advocating for preservation of McCarrren Park Pool in the 1980s and 90s. Initiators in the 1960s of what later became known as socially engaged art or social practice art, they did hundreds of events and collaborative projects in neighborhood parks and public spaces across the city, proving the ability of culture to work across divisions and spur agency and social change.
These statues are proposed to memorialize Christopher Columbus, created in ceramics by Peruvian artist Daniela Ortiz, on view at the New Museum's Triennial. Definitely better than removing the memorials, they recontextualize colonialism as genocide, displacement, ethnic cleansing, slavery, and oppression, important to keep at the forefront of our collective memory as our political leaders embrace the mass murder of children in schools.
Handheld devices are mass brainwashing experiments in which our synapses are turned into instruments of our own political repression. Everyone walks around like zombies, eyes glued to their phones. We are no longer embarrassed to be clinging powerlessly to our mobile devices, junkies of the information superhighway, our own minds turned against us to be marketed, and through marketing, controlled. Even our tragedies are being used to market our attention and turn us against each other, immobilize us, and immunize us against action, the better to profit from our despair.
( Part 2 of 2) The central subject of Confessions of the Flesh is the origin of the obligation to speak the truth about oneself out loud in the rites of confession in the early Christian church, with chapters on the doctrines concerning purity and desire related to baptism, penitence, virginity, chastity, marriage, and the sex drive. Implicit in the entire project remained, as always, Foucault's own wrestling with questions of consent as a participant in S&M culture, and the evolving permissibility of homosexuality in a Catholic society in which norms had radically shifted during the prior decade. In the introduction of the first volume of The History of Sexuality, The Will to Knowledge, Foucault had argued that the Victorian emphasis on sexuality, viewed since Freud as a period of repression, had more to do with mobilizing the workforce for the purpose of capitalist production and exploitation of industrial labor. In contrast to the New York Times reporting that its appearance has little to say about contemporary debates about sexual harassment, it could be taken as a provocation to a broadening of our historical outlook and contextualizing the changing norms regarding sexual harassment and sexual behavior in the workplace, giving weight to his view of the social function of changing norms of behavior as well as their importance for social and economic equity. Some of these distinctions concern establishing enforceable legal standards for criminal acts, or the liability of employers for ensuring a safe and equitable workplace, others have more to do with naming and shaming, using individuals in power as examples for standard-setting. All of it directly concerns the exercise and functioning of power as it mediates agreed upon sexual norms, which will ultimately be resolved by public debate, consensus, assertions, claims of authority, policy-making, and legal adjudication over what constitutes mutual consent. #wearefucked #historyofsexuality #foucault #confessionsoftheflesh #lesaveuxdelachair #metoo
(Part 1 of 2) The fourth and final volume of French philosopher Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality, Les Aveux de la Chair (Confessions of the Flesh), has just been issued by the French publisher Gallimard, almost 34 years after Foucault's death, with the potential to radically reflect on rapidly changing sexual norms and values. Its editor, Frédéric Gros writes simply that those having the rights to Michel Foucault felt the moment and conditions had arrived for its publication. Like the #metoo movement's struggle to define sexual norms in order to condemn sexual exploitation while maintaining hard distinctions between rape, sexual harassment, and a mere bad move, locker room talk and admission of sexual assault, The History of Sexuality looks at the social function of ancient and Enlightenment-era treatises on sexual morality and how they served different regimes of power. The volume is based on the original handwritten manuscript delivered to Gallimard in the fall of 1982, along with a rough typed manuscript accompanied by Foucault's handwritten notes, and access to the archives of his research, with help from Foucault's partner and heir to his estate, sociologist Daniel Defert. Foucault had not finished editing the volume before he was hospitalized in early June 1984 with complications from AIDS. The second and third volumes were posthumously published immediately after his death, on June 25th 1984. In contrast to the contemporary belief that the present-day had arrived at a new threshold of personal liberation and freedom from guilt and repression, The History of Sexuality's methodical examination of these treatises showed that sexual norms were more fluid and unregulated in earlier periods, in ways that are shocking to contemporary sensibilities. Against the conventional wisdom that the Victorian age was one of sexual repression, Foucault argued, the 18th and 19th centuries were a time of voluminous expansion of discussions of sexuality and the rules and norms governing it. In that sense, we are still the Other Victorians Foucault identified in his earliest chapters of The History of Sexuality. #lesaveuxdelachair #metoo
I wrote another story for Hyperallergic about a new documentary on Studio 54, the legendary late '70s disco club. What's worse: federal tax evasion, celebrity dance club bouncers, or becoming an extractive real estate developer? Full story link in bio. Directed by Matt Tyrnauer, a Vanity Fair correspondent who previously directed a film on the Italian fashion designer Valentino, Studio 54 finds a compelling and sympathetic witness in co-founder Schrager, who later became a boutique hotelier. Schrager’s memories of his friendship with Rubell, and the lost community they nourished, lends the film unexpected heart. After all, this is the club that supposedly invented the velvet rope to turn away the unshaven masses and the nylon-wearing 'bridge-and-tunnel' crowd. https://hyperallergic.com/425739/studio-54-matt-tyrnauer-sundance #studio54
Tania Bruguera's powerful Untitled (Havana, 2000) opens today at MoMA. You walk into an almost completely black room, the floor covered with a thick pungent-smelling layer of rotting milled sugarcane stalks, past four nude performers standing on the corners of a screen--the only light source--showing historical images of the Cuban revolution. The piece was originally staged in a political prison for the Havana Biennial and was censored by authorities. Several years later Bruguera was detained three times and her passport revoked for three months for another piece critical of Cuban censorship. Go early before the long lines.
I wrote about the Yayoi Kusama documentary that premiered at Sundance for Hyperallergic. The top-selling female artist in the world and most popular artist in terms of museum attendance, she has lived in an asylum in Tokyo for forty years. It's a striking story considered in light of the unacknowledged importance of caregiving in society. Link copied in bio. The film portrays the young Kusama, a daughter of wealthy seed merchants, growing up in rural Nagano Prefecture, with panning images of her from family photos in the country fields — one of her earliest visual references. As a child, Kusama discovered painting as a refuge from her parents — her mother, she has said, continuously scolded her and ripped up her drawings, and her father was a womanizer. The activity of making art also provided her relief from the dot-infused hallucinations she suffered from at an early age. Turning down arranged marriages, Kusama utterly lacked a sense of self-doubt as she pursued a career in painting. In her youth, she penned a letter to Georgia O’Keeffe, who invited Kusama to her ranch in New Mexico and encouraged her to move to New York. Cue the swelling orchestra. https://hyperallergic.com/424862/kusama-infinity-heather-lenz/
The bond market is not doing well trying to sell $1.5 trillion in new U.S. debt to support corporations already sitting on trillions in unused cash. The money has literally nowhere to go, and traders are talking about just holding onto the additional cash rather than doing anything with it. Search bond market news to follow the alarming trend that will probably collapse the markets this year. If nobody buys U.S. debt, the Federal Reserve will have to print money, devaluing the dollar, spurring high inflation, and undermining the debt-funded era of U.S. global dominance since 1945. A New Deal is urgently needed to reverse the tax cuts and invest in wages, infrastructure, education, and people before it's too late.
Starting in 1979 a young painter, then a student at the School of Visual Arts, Keith Haring joined a group of friends including Kenny Scharf, Ann Magnuson, John Sex, Klaus Nomi, Kitty Brophy, Jean Michel Basquiat, and Tseng Kwong Chi (and so many others), throwing theme-parties, ad hoc art shows, and performing in the basement of a Polish church at 57 St. Mark's Place, dubbed Club 57. The ethos here was campy, non-exclusive, and embracing of diversity of ethnicity, sexual identity, and creative expression, reflecting a radical opening up of categories of human identity and personal creativity that widely influenced the broader culture, especially after AIDS, a deadly sexually transmitted disease of uncertain origin that rapidly killed off half a generation, forced American society to confront its fears about sexual norms and institute a national public health policy to confront the growing crisis. MoMA is screening films and displaying artifacts and photos of this scene through April 1. @keithharingofficial @annmagnuson.official @kennyscharf @jean.michel.basquiat @kittybrophy @tsengkwongchi @klausnomifanpage @jahearnart #johnsex #club57 #club57filmperformanceandartintheeastvillage1978
In 1968 Jon Hendricks, Jean Toche, and Raphael Ortiz organized a Destruction in Art Symposium, a series of events at the Judson Church gallery including a Hostile Workshop by Toche, performances of self-mutilation by Nam Jun Paik, carcass mutilation by Hermann Nitsch, and just plain destruction by Charlotte Moorman. First initiated by Gustav Metzger in London in 1966, where Ortiz participated by destroying a piano, it was meant to call attention to the useless destruction of human lives in the Vietnam War. Hendricks was then curator of Judson gallery and with Ortiz (who founded El Museo del Barrio in 1969), and Toche together formed the Guerrilla Art Action Group as a more radical anti-Vietnam War art protest group, an off-shoot of the Art Workers Coalition. GAAG was infiltrating Met Museum board of trustees dinners, MoMA exhibitions, and generally causing radical disruptions in an effort to pressure the museums to cut ties with trustees with investments in arms manufacturing. Toche was later harassed by the FBI and ceased public activity. An exhibition of images and documents from 1960s art and student activism by Melissa Rachleff, curator of last year's brilliantly researched Inventing Downtown show, are on display on the ground-floor gallery of Bobst Library, including Phyllis Yampolsky's two-year long weekly Hall of Issues events at Judson--one of the earliest modern instances of what became known as socially engaged art--and Ben Morea's Black Mask and Up Against the Wall Motherfucker. Organizers of The Natural History Museum are using similar methods to pressure museums to divest from oil and remove anti-climate change board members. http://thenaturalhistorymuseum.org. @judsonchurchnyc @faleslibrary
This first image, Manufacturers Hanover Trust, designed by Gordon Bunshaft at Skidmore Owings and Merrill (whose partners did the glad-handing of clients while others designed the buildings) landed here on Fifth Avenue and 43rd St. in 1954 soon after completion of Bunshaft's more famous Lever House, built for the British soap-making giant (now Unilever) further north. In the second image, Union Carbide Corporation (now owned by Dow Chemical) opened this headquarters designed by Natalie de Blois for SOM in 1961 on Park Ave. and 47th St.; the company later changed the name of its batteries to Eveready after a chemical spill in Bhopal, India killed 15,000 people. 15,000!! It's now the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase. Some trace of what the area might have previously looked like is captured by this lone survivor on 47th St. (Image 3). Prior to the Union Carbide building stood the Hotel Marguery, shown in the last image. It indicates that the whole area is built on top of the rail lines running under Grand Central Station. The exterior of Manufacturers Hanover Trust, ironically perhaps, which stands a mere four stories tall surrounded by giants, was made a landmark in 1997 and its interior was landmarked in 2011. While the history of modern architecture has a value, the neighborhood utterly lacks warmth and humanity. The ground floors are all filled with bank machines and occupy entire blocks without any small businesses or differentiation. No housing or other uses are mixed in with the offices. Classic mid-century planning.
Photo from a recent film screening in my small-town neighborhood. About the place, thesunview.org says: “The Sunview Luncheonette opened in 1963 by Greek husband and wife team Demetra (Bea, etc.) and Lou Koutros. It served the neighborhood as more than a restaurant, something more like a community space, until 2008. The two phone booths up front were a hub for neighbors to congregate throughout the day. Quarters collected paid the building’s heating bills in the winter. As artists started moving into the area in the late 90s and early 00s a lot of us found a warm and cheap ($1.25 hamburgers in 2002?) place to congregate, and a comrade in Bea. Since the restaurant closed in 2008, we’ve lived in the neighborhood and continued to talk with Bea about finding a future for the luncheonette that allowed her and her tenants to stay in the building – in the face of gentrification and demographics changes in the neighborhood. Bea and her tenants – many of whom have lived in the building for decades – represent a precarious population now threatened with displacement due to rampant real estate speculation in the neighborhood (neighboring rents have doubled in the past 3 years, market housing prices have tripled since 2006). The Sunview Luncheonette Social Club was formed in February of this year with the intention of re-envisioning the space as a not-for-profit community/social center. We are interested in finding models for multi-generational schemes against gentrification-caused neighborhood displacement. We’re also interested in the practice of mutual aid, formations of alternative economies, building the urban commune and commons, among other things, grounded mostly in a dialectics with art, poetics, aesthetics and politics. The member base is a group of about 40 people, many of whom are neighbors, who also work as artists, academics, urban planners, poets, administrators, teachers, media activists, filmmakers. In the Sunview’s 50th year we are reconsidering what it means to make good use of its space, how to be useful, not just to the surrounding community but, perchance, as a model for similar collaborations yet to emerge.” ~ From a letter to friends, 2013
This patriotic American corporation stashed $350 billion in foreign tax havens to dodge paying its fair share of taxes for your bridges, highways, ports, education systems, health care, pensions, and all of the public benefits it exploits as a U.S. company. Rather than legislating and designing policies to make this theft of public goods illegal, the people you voted for handed it a $50 billion subsidy to return your dollars to the U.S. and pay its taxes, which could have been used to stimulate the economy, employ workers, make loans to small businesses, build housing, and fix infrastructure. This criminal enterprise is what you are using to get most of your information and built the screen you are looking at right now. It has robbed you blind. #financialization #makersandtakers #applecrimes #capitalinthetwentyfirstcentury #economicsofinstagram
When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems likely to do again in the twenty-first, capitalism automatically generates arbitrarily and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based. There are nevertheless ways democracy can regain control over capitalism and ensure that the general interest takes precedence over private interests, while preserving economic openness and avoiding protectionist and nationalist reactions. [Money in some periods makes greater profits (for instance various forms of speculation through real estate, stocks, bonds, securities) than it does when employed in making things or paying labor to provide services. This situation causes increased inequality, undermines opportunity, and undermines democracy. But the answer is not to prevent competition or to restrict trade. There are other ways of preserving economic opportunity and promoting the public interest.] This is already saying a huge amount that contradicts common populist ideas on the left and the right. Let's discuss! #thomaspinketty #capitalinthe21stcentury #economicsofinstagram
This second-year architecture studio taught by Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss at City College used indexes of power, organization, skin, and volume as analytical frameworks to think through responses to a postindustrial site in the South Bronx: a definite influence of metabolism showed itself, along with dystopian schemes that see us imprisoned in virtual worlds, cultural marketplaces, and urban energy-production and waste disposal infrastructures. With such garbage being generated through the highest levels of power, a group of us are contemplating a global environmental and aesthetic remediation project to clean up the damage being done to the world. @srdjan_jovanovic_weiss @williamrockwell @andreareynosa
In the spirit of contrariness, let's give some props to an institution that has not closed, but rather, has survived in Greenwich Village since 1935, outlasting the Great Depression, WWII, and the plutocratic redevelopment of Lower Manhattan by a cabal of downtown bankers and insurance companies. A friend visiting from Detroit recently wanted to see Christian McBride, who was doing a weeklong residency at the Village Vanguard, two sets a night with a five-piece band including Steve Wilson on saxophone, Warren Wolf on vibes, Peter Martin on piano, and Carl Allen on drums. It's a narrow triangular building on Seventh Avenue and Greenwich, previously a speakeasy called the Golden Triangle, into which they manage to squeeze 123 patrons into the basement, charging a mere $30 plus a drink to see some of the most famous jazz players in an intimate small-room setting. That means in a week, they can generate about $70,000 if they fill up the place, and let's say they split the door with the musicians who split the take five ways, optimistically they each walk away with $7,000 for what's a rare opportunity to play a featured gig at a storied club where Thelonius Monk once performed a weeklong residency to empty houses, and John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Bill Evans and countless other stars played in their primes. The Village Vanguard thereby has paid the rent and supported a booking agent, bartender, a couple of servers, a sound guy, and hundreds of musicians a year for 82 years. I guess this could be called a classic small business, an old school hipster entrepreneurial venture, a personalized capitalist economy run in a virtuous mode of mutual support. Probably most New Yorkers would regard it day-to-day as a tourist trap. We won't fully appreciate its splendor until it's threatened or gone.
Crazy story: When Thomas Anshutz was teaching at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts in 1886, his mentor Thomas Eakins was fired for using a fully nude male model in front of female students, in a scandal immortalized as the Loincloth Incident. His colleagues co-signed a letter against him alleging that he had gotten nude in front of students, induced students to pose nude for him and each other, photographed them nude, and didn't possess the moral character to be a professor. He responded in a letter: Was ever so much smoke for so little fire? I never in my life seduced a girl, nor tried to, but what else can people think of all this rage and insanity. It is not a rare ambition in a painter to want to make good pupils. My dear master Gerome who loved me had the same ambition, helped me always and has to this day interested himself in all I am doing. My figures at least are not a bunch of clothes with a head and hands sticking out but more nearly resemble the strong living bodies than most pictures show. And in the latter end of a life so spent in study, you at least can imagine that painting is with me a very serious study. That I have but little patience with the false modesty which is the greatest enemy to all figure painting. I see no impropriety in looking at the most beautiful of Nature's works, the naked figure. If there is impropriety, then just where does such impropriety begin? Is it wrong to look at a picture of a naked figure or at a statue? English ladies of the last generation thought so and avoided the statue galleries, but do so no longer. Or is it a question of sex? Should men make only the statues of men to be looked at by men, while the statues of women should be made by women to be looked at by women only? Should the he-painters draw the horses and bulls, and the she-painters like Rosa Bonheur the mares and cows? Must the poor old male body in the dissecting room be mutilated before Miss Prudery can dabble in his guts? ... Such indignities anger me. Can not anyone see into what contemptible inconsistencies such follies all lead? And how dangerous they are? My conscience is clear, and my suffering is past. T. Anshutz's A Rose, 1917.
By the time Frederick Remington painted Pool in the Desert in 1907 he had apparently tripled in girth from his youth as a lazy bohemian son of a Civil War colonel who liked to draw cowboys and Indians, and eventually made his way on trains to witness the last days of the Old West. By this time, Remington had been adopted by Theodore Roosevelt as a court painter and churned out romantic scenes of conquest for Harpers Weekly and U.S. army fanboys. Yet these paintings capture another time in history by someone who went there as a reporter to witness it and rendered it for a wide public, trained in the Hudson River School tradition but focused on close examination of the realistic gait of horses and buffalo, using black and white photo documentation, and detailed color notes to impressionistically depict what he saw. He saw the slaughter of 150 Lakota Sioux men, women, and children at Wounded Knee in 1890 and apparently thought the soldiers had done a good job. In David Rockefeller's memoirs, he makes fun of a bank executive who put this kind of art in his office at the new ultramodern 1960 Chase headquarters, rather than contemporary work, but later as a Museum of Modern Art board member Rockefeller cannot fathom what John Hightower could have been thinking as director of MoMA when he allowed Art Workers Coalition to print a photo of the My Lai massacre with the words And babies too... and sell it in the gift shop. This was followed by the Information show in which happenings at the entrance criticized his brother Governor Nelson Rockefeller for supporting Nixon. Rockefeller's mother had practically founded the museum, and Hightower was soon fired. #notesonartandpolitics #frederickremington #oldwest #cowboysandindians #moma #davidrockefeller
In praise of making common cause: John Brown was a white abolitionist who was involved in battles of armed militias to prevent the expansion of slavery into the northwestern territories. He and other abolitionists were organizing armed raids to liberate enslaved people and get them to safety in Canada, alongside Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and William Lloyd Garrison. In 1859 Brown organized a massive revolt in which he obtained hundreds of weapons, planning to distribute them to free and enslaved people and abolitionists. He hatched a plan and got a few dozen others to join him in taking over the armory at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia as the first step in the revolt, which they planned to arm local enslaved people with. He was captured, convicted and hanged, but not before killing four slaveholders and inspiring numerous revolts. The events terrified the South and were believed to have precipitated the Civil War. This is The Last Days of John Brown by Thomas Hovenden in 1882-84, on display at the Met. The painter also had been a sympathetic abolitionist. #commoncause #johnbrown #harpersferry #thomashovenden #visualculture #politicalart
I was recently having a discussion about liberalism with an acquaintance who argued that it merely provided a veil for colonialism. In contrast to what competing political position, I asked? Conservativism, royalism, blood-and-soil nationalism, mercantilism, the counter-Enlightenment that argued for cleansing of the west through divinely sanctioned rivers of blood? Enlightenment liberalism and humanism provided the intellectual rationale for the extension of rights from the dominant white settler groups to others who were disenfranchised. There were deep contradictions between the founding liberal constitution and slavery, colonialism, and disenfranchisement of women. But it was these contradictions that became the basis for competing claims. If we reject liberalism, on what moral or ethical basis are we going to make claims for rights, social equity, freedom of conscience, etc? Consider that today the ruling party in Israel made explicit their intention to annex and permanently occupy the rest of the land which has been assumed would become an independent Palestinian state, a pure expression of its power to exercise sovereignty over territory taken against international law from another people. If you followed their actions over the years it was clear this was the intention and de facto practice all along. Today is coincidentally the anniversary of the victory of Washington's army at Trenton, NJ. This 1871 painting by George Caleb Bingham portrays Washington crossing the Delaware River on Dec. 25-26, 1777 for a sneak attack on the army of King George. The American settler colony would go on to establish an independent nation and occupy the rest of the land across the continent, breaking treaties and annexing territories conquered from its neighbors as it went. Republicans today seem to want to return to this era, abandon all founding principles and treat government as a pure expression of the power over those governed, despite our lack of consent. I would like to know what on what moral or ethical basis they believe they are governing. #visualculture #criticalthinking #politicalart #colonialamerica #georgewashington #power #liberalism
This gallery of American paintings at the Metropolitan Museum spurs lots of productive contrasts in light of recently having visited the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, founded in the same period of the late 19th century. Here the Massachusetts-born, New York-trained American painter Eliab Metcalf, who lived in the Caribbean to nurse his poor health, only to die of a tropical disease, portrays Miguel de la Torre, then-Spanish governor of Puerto Rico in 1826. La Torre initiated sugar production on the Spanish colony. It wasn't until 1898 during the Spanish-American war that the U.S. invaded and annexed Puerto Rico, using it as a strategic naval station and requisitioning its valuable sugar commodity. Until 1948 its governor was appointed by the United States. It is obviously unconstitutional for the U.S. to continue to rule this island as a colony without political representation. I wonder when electricity will be restored. Looking forward to Tuesday Nov. 6, the first opportunity to throw our incompetent, corrupt government out of office later this year. Miguel de La Torre's main concern was preventing a rebellion on the island. Carefully controlling the government, he instituted a policy which he called 'dance, drink and dice' (baile, botella y baraja, similar to the Romans 'bread and circuses'), implying that a well entertained population will not think about revolution. (Quote from Wikipedia)
(56 Leonard, Part 3) The injustice this does to the city is the inflationary effect on the cost of land, making it too expensive for affordable housing to be developed by anyone and pushing investment capital into areas that are less productive of the public interest. Unless banks and investors are convinced they will never again earn such high returns, they hold onto property and hold back loans until policies and market conditions shift in their favor. No money goes into real estate that people need without the government stepping in and regulating it or creating it on our behalf. At the risk of stating the obvious, taken for granted by every New Yorker, inflaming a constant irritation by reiterating what we seemingly cannot control, 56 Leonard’s 820-foot-high view is the perspective from which the decisions affecting everyone’s life and well-being flows. From the scopophilic view of 56 Leonard, our homes are mere abstractions on an aerial site plan. Perhaps the biggest illusion its views create is that a decent apartment in New York City is something you can have yourself.
(56 Leonard, Part 2) At night, they tend to appear lifeless and unlit in the skyline. They are storehouses for parking wealth in the air. The 60th floor penthouse sold for a record-breaking $47 million to a mysterious company known as Uticon Investment Holdings LLC with an address in Chicago. It is valued the same as a comparably sized apartment in the neighborhood, reducing its taxable assessed value to a mere $1.5 million—two percent of the actual sale price. Combined with the condo and 421(a) exemptions, it’s treated as if it were worth $300,000, or 0.5 percent of what it really sold for. The result is that a speculative investor who swoops in from France and flips the unit for a quick profit is taxed less than a co-op owner living and working in the city, who has a real need for housing and whose taxes are raised due to the exorbitant prices across the street. Only two units remain unsold at 56 Leonard from the original offering, but 30 of them are already back on the market and 70 are being rented for from $7,000 a month for a studio to $45,000 a month for a four-bedroom apartment. One of the biggest complaints Jane Jacobs used to make about architecture is that most of the big decisions have already been made by planners. I would add to that bankers and developers. The role of architecture becomes very minimal, adorning a volume with details, finishing touches, and appliances. There’s nothing wrong with these apartments as such. In principle, wealthy people can have their expensive apartments without doing anybody harm. The problem is the apartments don’t exist in a vacuum. The extra 200,000 square feet 56 Leonard gained by purchasing air rights from New York Law School was earned from the school’s construction of a public lecture hall. Since New York Law didn’t need the extra allowable square footage, it sold its air rights to earn capital for its renovation. This semi-public good became someone’s privately-owned view.
Also this month, my article on Herzog & de Meuron's 56 Leonard (aka Jenga tower) is featured in Abitare. I would like to add the following footnotes to the story: (Part 1) What’s good for developers is not necessarily good for the public interest. Critics have wrestled for decades with the meaning of buildings like 56 Leonard as architecture and as reflections of society, finding few options apart from the unsatisfactory solution of condemning the inequality they embody while celebrating the quality of design—or attempting to ignore them altogether. We seem to feel obligated to bracket off design quality, conceptual ideas, craft, and technical innovation from the use-value and policy context that gives rise to the buildings. Yet for many of us, it’s hard not to recognize one’s own precarious housing in the squat low-rises of often marginal design value but enormous service to neighborhoods and the city, which buildings like 56 Leonard demolish to make way for condos of multi-millionaires. For what public purpose was it built, plied with incentives? One of the biggest grievances of housing advocates are the tax policies meant to promote affordable housing that high-end developments are able to exploit. Condos by marquee architects are not assessed according to their actual sale prices but on the basis of comparable units in the neighborhood. Co-op and condo exemptions further reduce the annual taxes of buyers by 55 percent, and an exemption known as 421(a) cuts another 50 percent, graduating over 10 years to the discounted condo rate. Who owns these apartments, and does anyone actually live in them? No one knows. The names of living souls are hidden behind murky LLCs and tax bills addressed to real estate attorneys. The unrestricted views from the top of 56 Leonard have been produced for the benefit of financial instruments with an amorphous relation to any actual person. The tax records, however, are public information and conclusively show how expensive condos steal from the public good. In that sense, buildings like 56 Leonard are legalized crimes against the public interest realized in glass, steel, concrete, and terrazzo.
Check out my story in this month's Art in America about architecture collectives in France, Germany, and the UK including Quatorze, Encore Heureux, Bellastock, Raumlabor, and Assemble that are reshaping public spaces and creating socially engaged projects to embrace new immigrants.
Found in Mark di Suvero's papers: In the mid-60s, artists and activists drafted this letter to be sent to local congressional representatives calling for President Johnson's impeachment for what we now know were lies to the American people that resulted in the deaths of millions in Vietnam and tens of thousands of US soldiers. There was still time then to prevent catastrophe. Impeach the illegitimate President Trump now.
Cedomir Kovacev at the 1882 Old Town Bar
At this tiny communal gathering place, an old garage in Crown Heights they were calling the Environmental Performance Agency, a group including Catherine Grau, Andrea Haenggi, Chris Kennedy, and Ellie Irons operated a little refuge from the onslaught of affective media and destructive politics, exploring the unplanned growth of plants in built-up environments as an embodiment of social and ecological regeneration. The mugwort had invaded this lot with the garage in back, which they installed a wood-burning stove inside and staged readings, performances, and exercises aiming to promote healing. On the closing night they created a bonfire in the lot and people were throwing in branches of mugwort, which produced a fragrant smoke that is supposed to promote lucid dreams. @catherinegrau @artiscycle @elslaurel
Back in the U.S. and Russia certainly seems like a well-run and egalitarian place by comparison. Why are we not organizing mass labor strikes again?