N.Y. landlord obliterated dozens of graffiti murals. Now he owes the artists $6.75 million.

5POINTZ_HOME_BANNER_1Interesting local story that raises interesting questions about the nature of art and how society views different media. Though it has gained more widespread appreciation, graffiti is still not viewed as other art forms are. Also interesting to note that the law protects art of “recognized stature” and that term requires interpretation and depends greatly on what society in general defines as art.

The case marked the first time a court has been asked to determine whether graffiti — with its ephemeral nature — should be considered art protected under federal law, according to a court opinion. It weighed a property owner’s rights against the rights of visual artists — in a city where the powerful real estate and art worlds are constantly at odds.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/02/13/a-landlord-obliterated-dozens-of-graffiti-murals-now-he-owes-the-artists-6-7-million/?utm_term=.11404fc851f6

Decrying Real Estate Developer’s ‘Insolence,’ Judge Awards Street Artists $6.7 Million in Landmark 5Pointz Case

In the lawsuit, the artists alleged that their rights had been violated under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA). The case was closely watched by artists, copyright experts, and property owners alike because it is extremely rare for VARA cases to come to trial. The law protects works of “recognized stature”—but even experts admit the term is vague and subject to broad interpretation. In this case, the judge seemed convinced that the now-erased graffiti mecca was of historic importance. Art expert Renee Vara, who testified in support of the artists, noted that the decision was significant because it recognized that “artists can be self-taught or academically trained.”

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/judge-awards-6-million-5pointz-lawsuit-1222394

Song Exploder Podcast: Weezer

In this episode, the lead singer and song writer of the band Weezer explains how one of their songs came together. What struck me about this episode was how this writer creates the lyrics to his songs. There is no overarching story he is trying to tell. He has a running list of ideas for lines on a spread sheet from various sources and then uses those random lines to create songs. He looks for words and lines with the proper inflection and sound quality to decide which lines to include in his song.

From the podcast:

“It sounds like something happened in my life, and then I observed it, and then I wrote a song about it. It’s coherent. There’s a beginning middle and an end. And that’s totally not the case at all. Each line is from a completely different place and I just reassembled them in some order that suggests a story that never happened. It’s a crazy way to write.”

This raises some interesting questions about the importance of the intent of an artist. If the artist himself says there is no meaningful story he is telling, does that mean that a listener cannot find meaning in them? Does revealing this story undermine the value of the artwork being created?

The Mapping of Massacres: In Australia, historians and artists have turned to cartography to record the widespread killing of Indigenous people.

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Really interesting article that gets into the importance of history and why we fight over it. In addition, how do we acquire knowledge of the past? In doing this project, the lead historian has to distinguish between the massacres based on the strength of evidence to support their happening. What is also interesting is what kind of evidence was used. Should indigenous oral histories be counted on? Or only traditionally western accounts such as newspapers? This argument plays out in the United States as well.

Lastly, rather than writing a book, the research was presented on a map. Why does the impact of this information feel different when presented visually rather than verbally? What does this tell us about the power of art when learning about history?

“In many Indigenous communities, art works have long had dual functions as historical sources, as repositories of cultural or spiritual knowledge, and as maps of territory. There is an established tradition of mapping massacre sites through art, as in the acclaimed paintings by the Aboriginal artists Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie, and Rusty Peters, among others. Watson wanted viewers of her video to be aware that any map is a slippery, contested artifact, and also to have a bodily response to the work. She told me the story of one of her relatives, who, after viewing the video, turned to her in anguish, saying, “Where wasn’t there a massacre?””

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/mapping-massacres

It may be good fun, but it’s not always good history

“Screenwriters interpret historical events to entertain, but to make up facts shows a lack of responsibility”

“Naturally, there are risks to taking in your history alongside your entertainment. There’s only one take on offer and popular historical depictions very much tend to play to the mores of the time. The dark side of Britain’s colonial past has long been papered over in our popular culture. The boundary between popular history and propaganda can sometimes be fuzzy.

“But to what extent is there ever such a thing as “pure” history, anyway? This is a theme eloquently explored by Mantel in this year’s Reith lectures. Confronting pupils with conflicting source material is one of the first lessons of grownup history: there is no one “true” interpretation of events. Historians may engage in an admirable search for the truth, but no historian can claim to present a neutral account: even if they stick to bone-dry facts corroborated by multiple sources, picking which ones to use is in itself interpretation.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/31/it-may-be-good-fun-but-its-not-always-good-history-the-crown

 

Met Defends Suggestive Painting of Girl After Petition Calls for Its Removal

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art will not remove a controversial painting by the French painter known as Balthus from public display.”

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  • How do we determine whether art is “appropriate”?
  • How does context affect the meaning of art? Notice how the quote below makes mention of the “current climate.” Should the “current climate” affect what is allowed to be displayed in a museum?

“Given the current climate around sexual assault and allegations that become more public each day, in showcasing this work for the masses, The Met is romanticizing voyeurism and the objectification of children,” it reads.

Between fact and fiction

“To write history is to fill our glass with water from the Thames and claim we have captured the river. This is as true of Jane Smiley as it is of Niall Ferguson, but the author of fiction makes no claim to objective truth or authority and so may be more true to our times.”

http://www.historytoday.com/mathew-lyons/between-fact-and-fiction?mc_cid=84d899c964&mc_eid=34e2887073