No Links: On The Donald Trump of Art World Social Media

by Paddy Johnson on October 19, 2016 Massive Links

Image via Jerry Saltz's instagram.

Image via Jerry Saltz’s instagram.

Artists Leah Dixon and Lauren Christiansen are taking issue with Jerry Saltz’s Instagram feed because they think he’s too interested in vaginas. They’ve titled their social media post, “The Donald Trump of Art World Social Media” and have dedicated themselves to ranting about Saltz’s obsessions. [No link.] “It only takes thirty seconds on Saltz’s instagram to see how destructive and trivial his interests are.” they write. “How he is using his power to openly fetishize female bodies, in lieu of actually presenting valid cultural critique. Honestly, one out of every three of his posts is a vagina.”

The post goes on to complain that Trump’s horrifying sexist remarks and scandals hadn’t drowned out Saltz’s obsession, quote Saltz’s love for women and complain about other critics who dare defend him.

I get that Saltz’s instagram isn’t for some. It’s not for me. Too often, he often indulges in purile sexist cliches that do little to advance social and economic equality for both genders. But as I see it, the purpose of the project is more about using art to push the boundaries of Instagram’s community standards than it is an archive of male desire (though, it is both). Comparing them to Donald Trump’s bragging of habitual sexual assault on women doesn’t make sense. One asks followers to re-evaluate their comfort zones. Another condones the abuse of women, actively works to dismantle democracy, and incites violence.

The problem with Dixon and Christiansen’s rant isn’t just that it seeks to alter a perceived abuse with another, but that it’s ineffective at doing anything other than commanding attention. And the fact is, visibility and a bullhorn don’t translate to equality or power, a reality we see laid bare every time we see female celebrities trolled online. To make real advancements we have to be civil enough to actually talk to one another. That means dropping the Donald Trump comparisons and addressing each other with respect.

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