Massive Links! Ai Wei Wei Protest, Piss Christ Destroyed, Critics Blathering About Criticism

by Paddy Johnson on April 18, 2011 · 6 comments Massive Links

Ai Wei Wei's Chairs

  • Both a tribute Ai Wei Wei’s 2007 installation Fairytale: 1001 Qing Dynasty Wooden Chairs at Documenta 12, and a protest of the Chinese Government’s continued detention of the artist for unspecified economic crimes, thousands gathered outside Chinese Embassies in cities across North America and Europe to show their support for the artist. Look to 16 miles, Hyperallergic, and Eyeteeth for full reports. Sadly, I missed the protest as I was on an early train to Dia. Robert Whitman’s opening performance occurred later that night, a non-narrative theatrical tribute to slowness. A full report on that soon.
  • Former AFC intern Julia Halperin has a new column at ArtInfo titled “Definitions” and it’s generating a lot of discussion. First term to tackle? “Emerging”. Halperin asked Zach Miner of Phillips De Pury and a bunch of artists at Rachel Uffner Gallery how they define the term. “Between unknown and overexposed?” quips the ever-reliable Roger White. White co-founded Paper Monument and is known for his depressingly bleak watercolors of Britta waterfilters. Artist Pam Lins hates the term, saying it’s characterized by a short time span and is therefore “at odds with a lifelong engagement of art”. Professor Terry Smith says the term designates eligibility for grants in Canada, Australia, and Germany, etc. I personally don’t have a problem with the word; I’ve always thought “emerging” evoked both hope and excitement for the future, unlike “mid-career”, a term with relatively little pizazz that also happens to be very close to the hateful designation “middle-aged”. We need to come up with a better word for mid-career.
  • There’s been a lot of discussion surfacing again about why the review is a form of writing that either does or doesn’t need an update. To my mind, Roberta Smith recent review of Richard Serra’s’ drawings at The Met is exactly the kind of piece that refutes the idea that the internet has so transformed the art world that traditional criticism is no longer needed. Good reviews provide historical context, hard looking, and critical thinking. From Smith,
    It is not quite like anything seen at the Met before: genuinely radical, physically unsettling art installed with a reasonable degree of effectiveness. It proclaims this august institution's commitment to recent art with an encouraging forcefulness.
    But there are shortcomings. For one thing — and this is basic — drawing doesn't afford Mr. Serra the same leeway in terms of real space, real materials and audience participation that sculpture does. He is, in fact, a more austere, abstract, hermetic, “difficult” artist in drawing than in sculpture, and this narrowness sometimes accentuates his penchant for bombast and opacity.
    When do you ever see this kind of writing and thinking in a reported piece? You don’t.
  • Related: Robert Storr pens his final column for Frieze describing critics as agile bottom feeders. He goes on to complain that increasingly participation means little more than getting a word in edgewise. These sound like the words of a critic without an active Facebook account.
  • Finally, what’s a Massive Link post without at least one link or screen grab from a dating site? The Internet celebrates OKCupid for deleting someone’s account because he made threatening and racist remarks. I’m sure he’s made a new one by now.


Jason McDowell April 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I think they should iterate Piss Christ so that there is a public record of what was done. I don’t know whether the Christians did an acceptable or abhorrent thing, but it should be noted as far as art history goes. It makes a little more sense to ignore iteration if the piece is accidentally destroyed as with “Rush.”

Anonymous April 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I’d agree with that actually.

Caio Fern April 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Ai Wei Wei and the cynic puppets of the art world. I don’t give a shit for all then :

I don’t give a shit for Ai Wei Wei and all the Mainstream’s sweethearts ….. all this news about him is because he is first of all a defense of the art market and the crappy mainstream academic institutional art the way it is today.

yes , let him get free, so what? will make any difference………..will be good only for the vanity of the ones that defended him for the fact he produces defending then .

Let’s remember one thing, for decades Latin American artists were arrested and tortured by agents sponsored by C.I.A . those fucking Americans self-proclaimed intellectuals of the art world never did nothing . But USA has commercial interests with China , so a simple arrest of one single artist makes all this noise.
What makes me believe that the American art critics work for their government’s interests. And are so ignorant that don’t even have conscience of this .
When will Americans start to protest for the thousands of artists missed in Latin America , Africa or poor Asian countries ?

About The Christ piss stuff. Yes Fanatics have really made horrible noise lately, What is expected form narrow minded people. What I think revolting is artists that what to call attention using stereotypes of ‘subversion” they know that will drive attention of the idiots and put their names on headlines.

About the battle of critics…… aren’t you all only talking about the same subjects, artists, institutions and for the same people…. and having the same interest about it all? ( if no, you are making a very wrong impression ) so what difference does it make at the end if the format or angle is different? The feeling of a very narrow and small art world I have here from outside is the same doesn’t matter who I read.

Will Brand April 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Three things:
-When we forwarded the Ai Weiwei petition a few weeks back, it came to me via a Canadian (Paddy Johnson, the editor-in-chief around here) and a Brit (Katie, to started the thing). So I don’t get all the hate against Americans in particular. I imagine that if you’d spent any time at all making sure you weren’t spewing outright bullshit, you’d have noticed the huge number of Latin American, European, Asian, and African art professionals decrying Ai Weiwei’s arrest. Hey, look at all these American agents in disguise:
-The first chapter of Julian Stallabrass’s “Art Incorporated” has a great analysis of how criticism during the Cold War served the aims of Western governments, if you’re interested in the topic. I mean that as an honest recommendation, too; last comment aside, I think you’d dig it.
-If we weren’t all talking about the same things, it wouldn’t be a discussion.

Caio Fern April 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm

thank you Will for defending the obvious. I can see the light now.

Veraisonsavoir April 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Roberta Smith has become the corporate sponsor for whatever show she is reviewing. What she should have said about Serra is that he has been doing the same drawing for collectors for the last 30 years. We need honesty.

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