- As threats of ICE raids suggest they may begin today, I want to suggest you read this article about the “white gaze” and the photo of two dead people, 25-year-old Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria, that went viral:
Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison has discussed the white gaze, the assumption that the perspective of white Americans is the only lens that matters. “Our lives have no meaning, no depth without the white gaze,” she said. Implicit in this gaze is the comfort of white people, whether as participants or observers. With this framework in mind, it seems that the photo of Óscar and Valeria would be contrary to what the white gaze requires—comfort, but American journalism always adapts to serve white people. These are American citizens who are removed from deaths in the borderlands and who cannot relate to being an economic refugee or a person fleeing widespread violence. These are people who see immigration as a theoretical conversation, rather than a violent, shapeshifting life force that propels people in search of safety hundreds of miles away to a brutal country indifferent to their annihilation. If white Americans need to see dead brown bodies to make sense of their own borders, then journalism will supply their demand. Under the Trump administration, there seems to be no end to America’s capacity to consume migrants’ suffering. After years of inaction and turning the other cheek, America wants to see it all. But then what?
KAWS, the 45-year-old New Jersey native turned New Yorker named Brian Donnelly, abandoned that message long ago, though. Now associated with mass market, middle market and high-end retailers, many describe KAWS as the first artist with global reach. He’s worked with such firms as Uniqlo, Christian Dior and Galerie Perrotin (his gallery of over a decade, from which he announced his departure last week), and with 2.2 million followers and growing on Instagram, there may be no other visual artist with as large a fan base.
There are hundreds of 200,000+-subscriber vloggers, mostly ostensibly focused on beauty and fashion, who tell stories about their haunted apartments and possessed Uber drivers in these “paranormal storytime” videos. Once vloggers make a turn towards paranormal topics, viewers seem to request more of such content, to the point where some beauty vloggers’ original focus on makeup and skincare recedes into the background as they film more and more haunted scenes.
Viewing Wood’s work through the lens of straight white male identity certainly seems to reveal unexpected, cringeworthy, and possibly less triumphal aspects of his practice, which probably explains why such a thing so seldom occurs. But the exhibition acknowledges none of these. Our public museums have an obligation to strip away the veils of various sorts of obscurantist hegemonies in order to assess art for what it is. Or they should. Institutions like the DMA need to be able to move beyond untenable claims of universality and give us honest answers. Why straight white men? Why now?
There is only one problem: The lake is a man-made waste site for a power plant, Heating and Electrical Station Number 5. And that irresistible blue hue is not the color of pristine waters reflecting off the sky, but rather the deposits of calcium salts and metal oxides, according to the electrical company that runs the plant.
Nevertheless, people have flocked to the site for photographs of an imagined tropical bliss outside Novosibirsk, a sprawling industrial city in Siberia with a population of 1.6 million people, better known for its frigid winters and metallurgical factories than its beaches.
As the number of millionaire and billionaire buyers rises and contemporary art becomes more visible in popular culture than ever, the clash over desirable artworks has hit a fever pitch. And that’s where the problem begins.
“I don’t know how you do it when you have 30 people for every painting,” says art adviser Candace Worth of some gallerists’ current dilemma with their most sought-after artists. “My dealer friends call and say, ‘I got yelled at four times today by clients calling up and screaming, ‘How could you not sell me this painting?’”
But finite holdings force gallerists to choose somehow, and the hierarchical pressures of the art world prevent them from defaulting to the first-come-first-served principle powering typical retail markets. Instead, dealers tend to try to protect their artists’ careers by placing in-demand works with esteemed collectors—ones whose connections can boost an artist’s prestige, who might collect in depth, and who, at the very least, seem unlikely to flip their new acquisitions at the earliest profitable opportunity.
That Washington would play such a pivotal role is not surprising, given that the state has often played a vanguard role in criminal justice policy — often for the worse. Washington was the first state to enact three-strikes sentencing policy in 1993 and blocked state funding from going to educate incarcerated people before the federal government cut Pell Grants to prisoners. Washington has been out front on everything from the eradication of parole to juvenile life without the possibility of parole (tried as an adult at 14 years old, Tacoma’s Barry Massey was the youngest person sentenced to life without parole in 1987; he was released in 2016, after the Supreme Court ruled mandatory life sentences for juveniles unconstitutional). For decades, the state has implemented civil commitment and expanded punishments for people convicted of sexual offenses, which have grown while prosecution for drug offenses has fallen. Built in the early 1980s, the state’s “Intensive Management Units” have become a national model for “administrative segregation” — a technocratic term for long-term solitary confinement.
Anderson adopted the nomadic life partly out of necessity. A restless person by his own admission, he dropped out of college three years in, getting all the debt without the degree. He started making jewelry — wedding bands and titanium plugs, like the Space Invaders ones he’s now wearing — but it wasn’t enough to live on. He worked retail. He worked in a call center. Then, looking for ways to sell his jewelry, he came across Amazon. It was a terrible platform for selling crafts. He couldn’t make things fast enough to meet Amazon’s requirements, but retail arbitrage looked interesting. He moved to Tyrone, and the nearest Walmart was 20 miles away, so any shopping trips would have to be road trips anyway. He figured he might as well keep driving — to Wisconsin, to Florida, to Nevada. Today, he runs a warehouse, packing products for other Amazon sellers, and spends half his time on the road chasing product.