May 16, 2014

World Wars B, G, and T collide

The future belongs to whichever identity group can throw the biggest snit:
Racially Themed Work Stirs Conflict at Whitney Biennial
By FELICIA R. LEE MAY 16, 2014

The YAMS, a collective of artists who made a video on race and black identity for the current Whitney Biennial, have withdrawn the work to protest a project in the show that they contend is racially insensitive. 
The project is by Joe Scanlan, a white New York-based artist who creates sculptures, paintings and books that feature a fictional persona who is black. Mr. Scanlan, who is on leave this spring from his post as director of the visual arts program in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton, has for years showcased the life and art of “Donelle Woolford,” a black female Yale graduate and artist, even hiring black female collaborators to portray her. 
“Its de facto endorsement by the Whitney Museum is both insulting and troubling,” the YAMS said of the Donelle Woodford material in a letter to the Whitney. The collective said it objected to “the notion of a black artist being ‘willed into existence’ by a white male artist,” and that in the context of an art exhibition, the work presented “a troubling model of the black body” and amounted to “conceptual rape.” 
The YAMS collective, which is made up of musicians, poets, actors, writers and visual artists from around the world and describes itself as mostly black and queer, is participating in the Biennial under the name HowDoYouSayYaminAfrican? and allowed its video “Good Stock on the Dimension Floor: An Opera“ to be screened in March. But in the letter, it asked the museum to cancel final screenings of the video at the show, which ends on May 25. 
Not Donelle
Mr. Scanlan said he had not encountered much opposition to the Donelle Woolford theme until it was selected for the 2014 Biennial, in which it is represented by two paintings and “Dick’s Last Stand,” a series of performances around the country. In the show, Donelle, played by the artist Jennifer Kidwell, appears in drag to re-enact a subversive stand-up routine recorded in 1977 by Richard Pryor for the last episode of his TV comedy show. 

This may seem confusing, but it has a simple moral: whatever the complaint, the White Man is to blame.

As a tonic after all the World War Xs, here's the real Richard Pryor:

 

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Honestly, even after reading that, I still don't understand what the controversy is here. Could somebody further explain this to me?

Handle said...

This was all bound to come to a head eventually.

With race, we are told that physical attributes like skin color are immutable but also irrelevant because uncorrelated with neurological or behavioral tendencies. Behavior is infinitely malleable and culture-based, and disparities between population groups are purely social in origin.

With sexuality, we are told that, 'baby I was born that way', and that behavioral disparities have an origin which is neither social nor a matter of antonymous choice, but instead are biologically hard-wired and immutable.

The homosexuals have made great progress that arguing that homosexuality is just like race. But then we are told race does not exist and is a social construct, and that racial differences can be erased with social work and education. But the 9th Circuit upheld California's ban on 'conversion therapy'.

If you try to reconcile all this and make a coherent list, it quickly becomes an exercise in farce.

Space Ghost said...

Honestly, even after reading that, I still don't understand what the controversy is here. Could somebody further explain this to me?

It's pretty simple. A white guy created a fictional black female artist, and hired a real woman to portray her, and perform the characters art, which involves dressing in drag and playing the role of Richard Pryor in the last episode of his TV show, wherein he was "roasted" by white comedians. This is moral equivalent of rape, so it's bad.

Oswald Spengler said...

"I'll show you - when the chips are down, these, ah, 'civilized people'? They'll eat each other."

Anonymous said...

“Donelle Woolford” videos can be found on the net, if you want to see a white artists conception of a black woman doing imitations of a black man named Mudbone.

Hilton Kramer said...

I know some of these people.

Quite funny. For me, the less blacks at museums the better. It's not like they show up at shows very much either.

Maguro said...

How does Flip Wilson as Geraldine fit into all this?

Dave Pinsen said...

Don't any of these Yam artists have a sense of humor? Instead of accusing this guy Scanlon of rape, why not go meta on him? Hire a white actress to play his black actress and have her do a monologue about getting hired by a creepy white artist to impersonate Richard Prior.

Steve Sailer said...

If your sense of humor is too good, then it's not art anymore, it's comedy. For example, Andy Kaufman did performance art but he was so good at it that he became a star comic and sit-com actor. David Bowie and David Byrne did performance art so well they became rock stars.

Anonymous said...

David Bowie and David Byrne did performance art so well they became rock stars.

Uhhh, something to do with rhythm and melody too I think.

Dave Pinsen said...

Interesting point, Steve. From the biopic about Kaufman, it looked like he started doing that performance art at comedy clubs, though. But in general, you may be onto something. I'm thinking of Matthew Barney. Seems like a big part of his art is film making, but as an artist, his films aren't held to the standards a filmmaker's would be.

The way you put it, art is kind of the short bus for creative types who can't make it in commercial art forms.

Steve Sailer said...

It would be interesting to conduct some kind of test to see who has more artistic talent: the top 100 artists at the Whitney Biennial or the top 100 employees of Pixar.

Dave Pinsen said...

Another comparison would be to have X TV writers each pen a short story and have the same number of, say, Iowa Writers Workshop alumni do the same.

ben tillman said...

Mr. Scanlan, who is on leave this spring from his post as director of the visual arts program in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton, has for years showcased the life and art of “Donelle Woolford,” a black female Yale graduate and artist, even hiring black female collaborators to portray her.

So I guess the World War T aspect has to do with the fact that the real Donnell Woolford is a man who played cornerback for Clemson and the Chicago Bears. I'll never forget Ditka saying, "Evidently Woolford can't cover anybody." A couple years later Woolford made the Pro Bowl.

Anonymous said...

How come nobody ever protested Angie Jordan of 30 Rock?

Felix M said...

YAMS use the word "troubling". If this has actual cognitive content, it amounts to saying, "We're troubled, ie upset, by this".

And the cognitive content of their phrase "conceptual rape" amounts to "This made me feel real bad". (Parenthetically, they are trivialising the actual trauma experienced by actual rape victims.)

Which shows that this artists' collective is a bunch of pseuds using big words without regard for what words actually mean.

To put it another way, while they object to a white guy impersonating a black person, but they are impersonating being analytical and educated.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Honestly, even after reading that, I still don't understand what the controversy is here. Could somebody further explain this to me?

Perhaps it is due to the fact that the only way a black Yale-educated performance-artist could exist would be for a white man to imagine her - or rather for implicitly pointing it out. Not that being a Yale-educated performance artist is any great accomplishment.

But that's just a guess. Fundmentally, not understanding this is the only sensible reaction. It is a mystery what motivates these people - the "artist" who created this human avatar, the "artists" whom he hired to portray her, or the "artists" who complained abou the whole thing. It doesn't matter anyway. None of them are really artists, and there really isn't much in the way of art anymore. What passes under the name of art these days is vile and ugly crap produced by pretentious and talentless poseurs.

Mr. Anon said...

"Steve Sailer said...

If your sense of humor is too good, then it's not art anymore, it's comedy. For example, Andy Kaufman did performance art but he was so good at it that he became a star comic and sit-com actor. David Bowie and David Byrne did performance art so well they became rock stars."

Or consider the parallel courses of The Tubes and Oingo Boingo. The Tubes was a band that became a performane-art troupe, and Oingo Boingo was a performance-art troupe that became a band.

Anonymous said...

Steve:

Look at the visual talent that's come out of the Walt Disney-founded CalArts --Steve Hillenberg, John Lasseter, Tim Burton, Brad Bird, Henry Selick, Pendelton Ward, Rebecca Sugar, and many, many more-- that's delighted millions of people worldwide and made untold billions of dollars. Then compare them to the people being cranked out by the aggressively conceptual and anti-skill fine arts programs everywhere else in the U.S. There's no comparison. There's more visual imagination, delight, skill, and beauty in any frame of The Incredibles, Spongebob Squarepants, or Adventure Time than you'll see on any contemporary gallery's wall.

Anonymous said...

"Troubling" fits in somewhere with "puzzling" and "controversial". ie its thoroughly disingenuous in useage.

Anonymous said...

One good thing about WWG,T,etc.

Jews have forever tainted their brand with all this perverted homo stuff. In time, Jewish culture and history will be associated with decadence, degeneracy, and sicko privilege.

Also, the 'left'--if it can be called that--has turned itself into a joke.
In the long run, no movement can sustain the silly notion that some guy in a woman's dress is an inspiring vision of humanity and progress.

Just imagine the famous French Revolution painting with the woman replaced by a tranny or lady boy.

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/arts/2005/04/01/liberty372.jpg

It'd be a riot if they come out with a book about a Holocaust Tranny.

The Diary of Anne/Andrew Frank.

I guess KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN was prophetic in a way. In that film, the tranny-homo played by William Hurt is so decadent and doesn't care about anything but narcissism and pleasure. He/she loves to watch old Nazi musicals and doesn't care about politics.
But eventually, the homo is won over the cause, and the leftist comes to sympathize with him/her, even allow him/her to boof him in the arse.

Well, whoopsy doo.

Anonymous said...

Steve, the trend I'm seeing online is for a growing discontent within the "LGBT" spectrum towards the aggression and extremism of the T folks. Some gays feel the rise of Trans is a parasitic movement that both distracts from real legal inequalities and hardens the public against all of "LGBT". This is only apparent online, because mainstream publications will never question the "I'm a woman if I say I am" T orthodoxy.

You may want to look up "cotton ceiling" at the GenderTrender blog, which is the Trans term for "Lesbians won't sleep with me because I have a penis".

If this is what gay rights has come to, call me, a gay man, Fred Phelps. We do not all feel that anti-discrimination legislation or equal marriage needs to go along with allowing a cross-dresser to use a women's restroom. I don't recall signing up for "LGBT". It was just imposed on us at some point.

Furthermore, transgenderism is starting to look like a "cure for homosexuality" that actually works. Ultra-liberal and ultra-conservative parents can happily agree that little Johnny's enjoying wearing his mom's dresses, liking to kiss boys, etc means he is really a girl trapped in a boy's body, and get him the appropriate surgery and hormone treatments. This is horrifying to gays.

So the other interesting question you may want to explore sometime is how the Christian Right feels about the growth of transgenderism. Over in Iran, they'll hang gays but give out sex changes like candy bars to correct Allah's mistake. Could the Right make its own Molotov-Ribbentrop trap with the T's against the LGB's?

Anonymous said...

Conceptual rape = conceptual, non-consensual.

But does it mean the concept is being raped, or are we being raped by the concept? See, those are the sorts of question that come up, come up when we are just blathering a bunch of gibberish.

Oswald Spengler said...


"Or consider the parallel courses of The Tubes and Oingo Boingo. The Tubes was a band that became a performane-art troupe, and Oingo Boingo was a performance-art troupe that became a band."

--------------------------------------------------------------------

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UbGtjnluyY

"It's a dead man's party. Who could ask for more?!"

Hamza Walker said...

The Art World needs to generate its own Stirling's and
magics.

It's especially laughable because the Whitney Museum sponsors a program called ISP that is a den of subversive cultural marxism. Google Coco Fusco and the ISP or Mary Kelly and the ISP...the YAMs are just playing their BS identity politics in consequence free environment with many anonymous liberal enablers.

Harry Baldwin said...

Steve Sailer said...It would be interesting to conduct some kind of test to see who has more artistic talent: the top 100 artists at the Whitney Biennial or the top 100 employees of Pixar.

There would be no way to agree on criteria because "fine artists" scoff at technical skill. When I was at art school representational art was disparaged as "illustration." My sister-in-law is working toward her MFA, focusing on portraiture, and when her fellow students tell her it looks like she's trying to "catch a likeness" they mean it as a put-down.

RobertW said...

So let me understand: if you are white you are not allowed to talk about black people except in terms of enthusiastic celebration - that I know. But now you are not allowed to use the image or form of a black person in your art work? I imagine soon it will be unacceptable for a white person to say the word "black". Are white kindergarteners still allowed to use black crayons when coloring? (That is, when they're not prepping for their college entrance exams)

Anonymous said...

Transgender blood donor turned away in Vancouver

Oh, HORRORS!