This N' That: Keep In The Know With Photography News
By Ashley Yu
TIME 100 Most Influential People Announced
The annual list that declares what TIME regards as the 100 most influential people has been released. From NBA star LeBron James to White House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, TIME Magazine’s prestigious list is both celebratory and at times, controversial.
Who can forget Donald Trump’s toupee gracing its cover in 2018? This year, painter Luchita Hurtado, architect Jeanne Gang, and artist David Hockney were featured in the much-anticipated lineup.
Luchita Hurtado, age 98, has been flying under the radar for the last 7 decades. In Hans Ulrich Obrist’s tribute to the artistic veteran, he praises Hurtado for her “vision of the human body as a part of the world...and the language that we use to bridge the gap between ourselves and others.” Having had both personal and intimate experiences with historical artist movements, such as Surrealism and the Dynaton movement, Hurtado’s unique perspective for art and photography has finally come to the fore.
Meanwhile, British artist David Hockney is celebrated as an icon for Pop art and creating the most expensive piece ever to sell at auction by a living artist. Toppling Jeff Koon’s Balloon Dog, the 81-year-old sold his Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972) for $90 million dollars in 2018. Known for his flattening of three-dimensional spaces into brilliant pops of color and stark outlines, Hockney has now moved on to video art installations.
The third artist to be featured on the list is Jeanne Gang, founder of the Studio Gang and the architect behind the tallest female-designed building. With an undeniable #GirlPower, her skyscraper Aqua in Chicago is just the first step for her firm. Combining socio-political activism with graceful architectural designs, Gang aims for socio-economic progress in her city of Chicago. Gang was the mastermind behind the construction of boathouses that filter out polluted substances from the Chicago River, as well as that of the Polis Station-- a civic recreation center to improve relations with the police. In her tribute, Gang warned fellow architects against “sorting ourselves into architects of the rich and architects of the poor” and focus instead on “new possibilities on the discipline and beyond.”
Rihanna x Childish Gambino’s Guava Island is an Anti-Capitalist Smash Hit
Guava Island, a mysterious project that has been teasing the public for months, was released on Amazon during musician Childish Gambino’s set at Coachella this past weekend and it has taken the internet by storm. Shot in Cuba, the 55-minute film, is a breezy musical infused with anti-capitalist critique and cynicism over the American Dream.
Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino), plays Deni, a singer that seeks to unite the tropical paradise of Guava Island. Meanwhile, Rihanna plays Deni’s girlfriend, Kofi. Surprisingly, Rihanna does not sing at all during the film. With a plot that revolves around the tensions of exploited laborers and political polarization, the short film is simultaneously a scathing critique of our current consumerist society and a soothing island getaway.
Written by Glover’s brother Stephen and directed by Hiro Murai, the film shares much tonality with Donald Glover’s acclaimed television series, Atlanta, which is infused with the same dry wit and ironic absurdity. However, while the internet fawns over Rihanna’s beauty and Glover’s abs, critics have slammed Guava Island for its underdeveloped characters and inaccurate political engagement.
2019 Sony World Photographer Announced
Italian photographer Federico Borella has been named Photographer of the Year at the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards, taking home $25,000. His series, Five Degrees, is a haunting exposé at the soaring rates of male suicide in the Indian farming community of Tamil Nadu as they face the worst drought in 140 years.
His series was inspired by a scientific study at UC Berkeley, that showed strong correlations between male suicide rates among farmers and climate change, revealed through Borella’s depictions of sandy landscapes, portraits of the survivors, and mementos left behind the victims.
Mike Trow, chair of this year’s jury, told the British Journal of Photography that “as global warming changes the face of life ever more rapidly--particularly in developing and underdeveloped nations--the work of artists such as Borella becomes ever more needed.”
Alongside Trow, the jury consisted of Erin Barnett, director of exhibitions at ICP in New York; Brendan Embser, managing editor of Aperture; Emma Lewis, assistant curator at Tate; Liu Heung Shing, founder of the Shanghai Center of Photography; and Isabella van Marle, head of artist and gallery relations at Unseen Amsterdam.
The shortlisted artworks will be exhibited at the Somerset House in London, before touring internationally. There will also be a dedicated section to renowned photographer Nadav Kander.
Barack Obama: Spy or Tool for Trump’s Re-Election?
Days before the Mueller Report (in all of its blacked-out, “redacted” glory) was released, Trump’s re-election committee released new merch accusing the former President Obama of being a spy. Embodying the concept of a hypocrite, the committee parodied Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Obama, depicting him with binoculars and headphones as he peaks out from the bushes to spy on Trump.
First noted by Hyperallergic, it is undeniably a product of Trump’s paranoia from the ongoing “conspiracy” against his presidency, marked by alleged illegal espionage by the FBI and sabotage by his Democratic rivals. The outrageous delusion is being sold as a T-shirt on Trump’s website, while also supporting the many claims surrounding Trump’s supposed descent into psychosis that began in 2017, after the publication of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.
Neither Kehinde Wiley nor Barack Obama has commented on this issue. The money raised during the sale of Trump’s merch for his re-election campaign.
Week 5: Protests at Whitney Museum Continues
“Decolonize This Place” is entering its 5th week of protests against vice chair of the Whitney Museum, Warren B. Kanders due to his associations with a weapons-manufacturer Safariland who supplies tear gas to the Israeli military in the Occupied Territories. The occupation of the lobby of the Whitney Museum was part of their planned “Nine Weeks of Art and Action.” The protestors donned banners showing the fallen Palestinians from the 2018 Gaza border protests.
Museumgoers are becoming increasingly disgruntled, resulting in a scuffle between protestors and visitors, who were forced to separate by security guards. Not only has the security team found themselves defending the activist’s right to protest, but they were also concerned with the presence of masked protestors who veiled their faces in Palestinian Keffiyehs. The protestors faces were veiled to express both solidarity and anonymity from right-wing individuals in the room.
Drowned in chants of “Warren Kanders, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” the tension was broken with a cheerful Dabka dance. Members of Within Our Lifetime, a youth organization for Palestine, performed the Dabka folk dance to raise morale. In a conversation with Hyperallergic, one member stated that “tear gas canisters are fired and leaving havoc all over Palestine. Art has always been a way of expressing an individual’s freedom to be themselves.”
Protestors also linked Kanders to the wider socio-political issues in Israel where they’re trying to attract famous celebrities and artists to improve their national image, while women and children are attacked with rubber bullets and tear gas. The Safariland tear gas was also used against black protestors in Ferguson, Oakland, and Baltimore. The protestors also revealed that the NYPD has spent $7.3M on tear gas and gear from Safariland in 2016. This week’s protests have not only united Black Lives Matter activists, but those who are fighting for independence in Kashmir and Native Americans against the construction of oil pipelines in their territory.
The Whitney has declined to comment.