This N' That: Keep In The Know With Photography News
By Ashley Yu
50th Year of Stonewall: Monuments of Transgender Activists To Be Erected in New York
The two leaders of the Stonewall Riots, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will be memorialized in New York on the 50th anniversary of the protest that kickstarted the national fight for LGBTQ equality.
During the 1960s to 1980s, Johnson and Rivera were both prominent transgender drag performers in downtown New York. Close friends and allies, both Johnson and Rivera were at the forefront of protestors at Stonewall Inn when a police raid turned violent. Though accounts vary, it has been recounted that the explosive moment for the riot was when police began beating a female patron in front of a large crowd for resisting arrest. In the aftermath of the riot, both would later come to form the Gay Liberation Front, a short-lived political group advocating for sexual liberation, and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, which provided support for LGBTQ prisoners and homeless youth, especially young drag performers. The duo would also continue their fight for HIV/AIDS awareness and LGBTQ rights until Johnson’s murder and Rivera’s illness in 1992 and 2002 respectively.
The proposed monument will be the first permanent public artwork to recognize transgender women in history. Though the location has yet to be decided, it will possibly stand at the Ruth Wittenberg Triangle near the Stonewall Inn. The city is encouraging an open call for all potential designs.
The memorial is part of the broader program, “She Built NYC”, as an initiative to diversify New York’s public monuments. The initiative is also striving to erect 5 statues for prominent female historical figures across the 5 boroughs, as announced earlier this year. “She Built NYC” will fund each of these monuments with their $10M budget, commissioned by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The monument commemorating Johnson and Rivera is expected to cost $750,000 and will be completed in 2021.
Pioneering Documentarian Camille Billops Pases at 85
Most known for her documentaries that unflinchingly deals with difficult histories, Camille Billops has passed away at age 85. Though the cause of death has yet to be announced, Billops has long struggled with dementia beforehand.
She is most renowned for her film Finding Christa, that premiered at the 1992 Sundance Festival, revolving around her abandonment of her 4-year-old daughter in a bathroom at the Los Angeles Children’s Home Society, in order to pursue an artistic career. The film, made in collaboration with her husband James Hatch, would document their reunion nearly 2 decades later. Billops would win the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance, making her the first black woman to receive that accolade.
Combining the techniques of restaging, archival footage, and interview, Billiops archived multiple narratives of those long marginalized in history. She would later create more documentaries that dealt with larger issues of social inequity, such as The KKK Boutique: Ain’t Just Rednecks (1994), and fought for the visibility of black women in the art world.
Born to a seamstress and a cook in 1933, Billops grew up in Los Angeles, California and earned an undergraduate degree for Education for physically handicapped children.
Richard Prince Is Now Selling Weed
The ever-controversial artist Richard Prince has designed his own strain of marijuana after the opening of his recent exhibition “High Times” at Gagosian’s San Francisco gallery. Prince’s strain, named “Katz + Dogg,” were given to gallery visitors in the form of pre-rolled joints and vape pens, both of which is packaged with Prince’s designs.
Prince’s painting and collages for “High Times” are an expansion on his previous series “Hippie Drawings” from the late 1990s. Produced by cannabis company 710 Labs, “Katz + Dogg” contains 23 percent THC and is listed by a luxury dispensary as costing $81 for 3.5 grams.
“High Times” is a collage of not only Prince’s paintings, but also of appropriating techniques from Basquiat and de Kooning that has only become increasingly mainstream over the past year. While Hyperallergic critic John Yau has described Prince as “a sad vampire,” New York Times critic Roberta Smith said Prince has “never made anything quite so fun to look at.”
#WeTheNipple Takes Over Facebook/Instagram Headquarters
At 5 a.m., June 2, 125 naked women gathered at Astor Place in Manhattan’s East Village, also the New York headquarters for both Facebook and Instagram, to protest the strict censorship of female nipples on social media platforms. As a collaboration between photographer Spencer Tunick and the National Coalition Against Censorship, the nude women posed with stickers of men’s nipples for a photoshoot as an ironic means of self-censorship and expose the double-standard that social media corporations use to circumscribe the female body.
For years, Facebook and Instagram have banned and removed users, especially artists and photographers, for sharing images that show female nipples, as per “community guidelines.” The only exceptions made are for images of breastfeeding mothers and post-mastectomy results. Though Facebook has released their strangle-hold for nude female figures in photography and art, many artists remain vulnerable to censorship and disabled accounts.
Tunick himself has fought for years against such censorship. In 2000, he won a lawsuit against the state to legally stage and photograph his mass installations.
Google Spreadsheet of Museum Employee Wages
As increasingly more dirty laundry against international art institutes continue to be aired out, museum staffers across the U.S. have anonymously compiled a spreadsheet, named “Art/Museum Salary Transparency 2019,” comparing employment details and annual income. Both former and current employees of some of the largest museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. Only encouraged to release as much personal information as is safe and comfortable as the individual desires, it aims to tackle workplace inequity and increase communications between employees and employers. This spreadsheet began circulation, in light of the workers strike at the Louvre last month.
As of now, the highest listed salary is from a male employee of the American Council of Learned Societies, with an income of $300K and the role of “digital humanities/collections projects manager/developer.” The lowest salary is a female part-time employee at the Brooklyn Museum for $5000.
Extra categories have been added upon request, including gender identity, ethnicity, parental leave policies, and insurance benefits. The list of employees has now expanded to commercial galleries (e.g. David Zwirner Gallery) and science museums.
Laptop with World’s Most Dangerous Viruses Sold
Created by internet artist Guo O Dong, the 10.2-inch Samsung Laptop is being sold as an art piece for over $1M, filled with six of the world’s most dangerous malware that could topple economies. If you get it on your hands, just don’t connect to your wife nor plug in a USB.
Guo O Dong chose the viruses in terms of the magnitude of economic damage they have created. This includes the ILOVEYOU bug from 2000, staged as an email-attached “love letter”; DarkTequila that targeted bank credentials and corporate files in Latin American; WannaCry, a ransomware attack from 2017 that shut down computers in hospitals and factories that was attributed to a North Korean cyber attack. In total, the artist estimates around $95 billion in economic damage contained in one laptop.
Commissioned by cybersecurity firm DeepInstinct, the final selling price was for $1.3M. Guo is no stranger with scathing internet art, including re-tweeting alternative Chinese headlines for Twitter-news and leading a “Brooklyn hipster” on a leash.