What’s wrong with curating today? Does it too heavily favor men? Does it overlook emerging artists in favor of an unassailable academic canon? Does it act too often as a vehicle for the market, or the curator’s ego?
No. What is wrong with curating today is that it does not involve Twitter and Madonna.
At 4:30 today, that will change.
Madonna’s #artforfreedom is a grant program where she’ll choose one artist per month, and donate $10,000 to a charity of his or her choosing— because, as she says in her video “Secret Project Revolution,” there’s “too much creativity being crushed beneath the wheel of corporate branding and what’s trending.” (What’s trending? #artforfreedom.)
In case because you haven’t read the press material, we’ve parsed enough of it to impart that for freedom means for press, and curating means retweeting, and art means whatever dovetails with the brand.
It’s the kind of corporate, reductive, out-of-touch logic that would make someone believe that covering Elliot Smith’s Between the Bars with hot cops speaks to any semblance of the reality of prison injustice. It’s also a fundamental misunderstanding of the word “curate,” which is more about protecting culture than picking your faves.
It’s also a fundamental misunderstanding of the word “curate”, which refers to deep historical and cultural study.
It’s also a fundamental misunderstanding of the word “curate”, which once upon a time had something to do with giving a shit.
And if you’re going to argue that this is a positive step for the mainstream addressing social injustice– stop. Filmmaker and Madonna collaborator Steven Klein says their video “Secret Project Revolution” “examines our private prisons” and “questions our governments.” Three minutes in, it’s also about being too sexy to start a revolution. “If I had black skin and an afro would you take me seriously?” Madonna asks. “Instead, I’m a woman. I’m blonde. I have tits and an ass, and an insatiable desire to be noticed.” Mix that with some contempo-looking dance, and scenes of torture and incarceration are equated with the oppression of being a star.
So it’s pretty much a mix between Aerosmith’s dystopic 1994 arcade shooter Revolution X (tagline: “Music is the weapon!”) and Lady Gaga’s prison-themed music video for Telephone. It’s not about freedom per se as much as it’s about self-love; this, she says, will be the revolution “about not giving a damn about what people say.” Because that’s what freedom of speech is!
And if you didn’t think she could twist the knife any harder, there’s this: when interviewed by VICE, who’s co-releasing the video, Madonna says she’s “attracted to [oppression].” “It inspires me,” she says. “It’s evocative.”