This N' That: Keep In The Know With Photography News
By Kala Herh
Honoring Maya Angelou
During the week long “Maya Angelou Mural Festival” several notable artists created murals to honor the commanding legacy of the civil rights activist.
On the Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School campus, massive murals were painted by Shepard Fairey, Daniel Arsham and JR. The work by the artists highlight Angelou’s lasting impact on creativity, individuality and perseverance. Branded Arts, a LA company that creates art environments, helped coordinate the monumental event between organizers and artists.
It was more than wall on paint as the feat brought the community together as students of all ages took the streets in tandem with artists to transform their school. “This project brings the kids together,” Hill says as he watches the progress. “Some of these kids probably don’t hang out with each other at school, but when you’re doing something everybody can be involved with, it brings them together.”
The phoenix, symbolizing Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise”, was seen as a unifying motif between the works. A notable example is Faith47th’s mural that colors a corner wall that stretches down San Pedro Street. Her work features a defiant and powerful phoenix rising from the flame over the words: “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” A lasting reminder Maya leaves for us all.
Fight over Hairbrush Rights
After winning a two year lawsuit against Madonna, ex-friend Lutz says,“Madonna is who she is she always has been. She’s never changed.”
The saga traces back to 2017 when Lutz tried to sell a variety of Madonna’s personal memorabilia — a brush, costume lingerie, and a letter from Tupac Shakur to Madonna (the letter itself projected to sell for $300,000). When Madonna was notified that Lutz was selling these items, she sued. The singer wrote in her complaint that Lutz “betrayed my trust in an outrageous effort to obtain my possessions without my knowledge or consent.”
Lutz was not a stranger who stole Madonna’s property, rather she and the singer were good friends back in the ‘80s. They met through Glenn O’Brien, who at the time was dating Lutz’s housekeeper and was an art friend of Madonna. “Madonna shifted culture, but she didn’t do it all by herself,” Lutz says. Up to 2004, the art advisor helped the singer craft her iconic image as a pop icon.
Fast forward to June of this year when the judge granted Lutz rights to Madonna’s property on the basis of staue of limitations. In an interview with Artnet, Lutz said, “Why shouldn’t I be able to make money off this?” she asked. “When did it become a sin to make money?” Later adding, “I can’t tell you the the physical toll, the emotional toll, and the financial toll this is taken,” she says, calling the past two years “a living hell.” Madonna’s lawyers, she adds, want to “litigate me either into bankruptcy or the grave, whichever comes first.”
Melania Trump Takes Slovenia (Sort Of)
A chainsaw erected statue of Melanie Trump has surfaced in her native Slovenia last week.
The nine-foot-tall sculpture carved out of a linden tree features Melania during the presidential inauguration, in her bright blue Ralph Lauren dress. But that’s where similarities between America’s first lady and the statue end. Brad Downey, the Berlin-based artist-pranker, commissioned this statue from Slovenian pipe layer Ales Zupevc. Despite an uproar of laughter on Twitter, Downey maintains that this is a “serious" work of art.
What initially peaked Downey’s interest in such artwork was his curiosity in Melania’s relationship with her homeland. A curiosity that was later expanded as Downey created and curated a whole exhibition on the first lady (on view until August 25th). He questions, “How deep are the first lady of the US’s roots and how do local people live with and react to this indisputable historical fact?”
Downey essentially gave Zupevc a carte blanche — only specifying the dress color and size. “She might come and see the thing,” says Zupevc in a video by Downey about the making of Melania. “She might like it.”
From the Margins into the Mainstream
The Whitney’s Biennial features work that illustrates the emerging theme: protest.
The power of affiliation. It is these universal ties that is a standout theme in 2019’s Whitney Biennial. It fosters a discussion of how we are supposed to live together in the midst of such polarizing ideals of thought. Who belongs and who doesn't? What communities are prevailing and which are splintering?
Co-curated by Rujeko Hockley (the biennial’s first black curator), the exhibit is said to have artists from every marginalized group. The work may be made from minorities (or what has been traditionally deemed so), but in recent years it has come to become the mainstream. Notably, Curran Hatleberg’s road trip photographs of multiracial communities that act as one unit. A unique coalition between races and parties that has not been fully adopted by the rest of the country.
To critics, the exhibition’s tone was surprisingly quiet. The curators admit the work feels less “angry” than previous years. However the message put forth was a departure: the work exhibited did not aim to critique the dominant culture, but rather position itself within it. Perhaps, the exhibit marks an end to outsider culture in the American art scene. Or maybe, with increased representation in the various art mediums, there is just a new voices that have come up to the plate.
Preparing for Demolition
Two of Beijing’s major art districts are being evicted as authorities cite “security problems.”
Last Wednesday, police escorted hundreds of artists out of their studios in Luomahu (aka Roma Lake Art District). This came after they were given a seven day window to relocate or risk their property being confiscated by the government. “They are driving us all away on the excuse of cleaning up the underworld,” the artist Canon Duan told The Art Newspaper. “We’re not prepared at all. And no one has explained it to us.”
In recent years, the Chinese government has systematically stunted the growth of artist districts (Zuoyou in 2018, Caochangdi in 2018, and Heiqiao in 2017). The event bears striking resemblance to the bulldozing of Ai WeiWei’s Beijing studio — which was demolished within days without warning.
The reason for eviction is blurry. Earlier residents were told that it was to promote urban redevelopment now the story has shifted to breaking up alleged crime rings and combating mafia activity.
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