Saturday, October 13, 2018

some links for the weekend--corporate art sponsorship, contemporary polemics about Columbus Day can forget that Italian Americans were viewed with suspicion , and Atlantic musing on who America's enemy should be

At The Altantic Samantha Culp has an article on gigantic corporate brands like Nike and Pepsico have become arts patrons and how ambivalent-to-hostile the art world and the arts press can feel about this.  That may be yet another thing to keep in mind in the wake of the Banksy stunt, for that matter.

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2018/10/brand-patrons/568153/
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The question “What if Nike is the new Medicis?” began as an art-world in-joke about a decade ago, but has grown less absurd over time. With the diminishing impact of traditional advertising, companies are seeking new ways to capture the attention and goodwill of the public. In exchange, brands provide financial opportunities to emerging artists. “In some ways, the goals are a little amorphous,” Natasha Degen, a historian of the art market at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, told me. “The lines are becoming very blurred between corporate social responsibility, philanthropy, and marketing.” In a vacuum of meaningful public-arts funding, and in contrast to the stratified commercial art market, brands have the potential to be an alternative pillar of support for artists. Can this new gray area be called patronage, and if so, what would that mean for art?
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Nobody seems hugely distressed about the degree to which The Beatles were a boy band fashioned at a corporate level into becoming the biggest pop act in history, though.  It's a bit strange how that works or doesn't work in relationship to visual art and plastic arts. 

Yoni Appelbaum proposes that Columbus Day has become the victim of its own success, revisiting how a century ago Italian Americans were not viewed as being as "really" American as they have since been regarded as being.  A push to regard the day as Indigenous Peoples Day might skip past the part where Italian Americans might be regarded with suspicion as anti-American papists or unionizing socialists or ... insert terrible stereotype where applicable.  I have no particular regard for the day as a day regardless of whether it's for Columbus or for Native Americans.  Since a good number of the Native American nations practiced slavery and were busy killing each other I can't regard the tsunami of death catalyzed by those who followed after Columbus as necessarily being on the head of Columbus.  Should we hold it against all Spaniards that South American nations have lost so many of their native American peoples?  Where the anger against Columbus and his legacy seems too selective is at precisely this point, because in an era in which people are worried about what the Trump administration may do to people who are described as having brown skin, the concern is about people from Latin America and yet ... if the legacy of Columbus is to be repudiated then how is it that Spain and Spaniards aren't targeted for opprobrium?  That would be stupid, mind you, but it seems as though the outrage can be for show if it doesn't take that additional step. 

Meanwhile, considering how many Italians were regarded as sub-American or potential traitors I don't think that complaining that Columbus day celebrates colonial/imperial legacy makes a lot of sense and I write that as someone whose lineage is half white and half Native American.  Advocating for the legal rights and liberties of Native American people sounds like a great idea!  Expressing anger that a holiday formed by the efforts of Italian Americans to be taken seriously as American citizens because people want to pin blame on an Italian for serving the imperial interests of Spain seems daft.  When we have a military power that could incinerate every living thing on the planet the idea of Americans bewailing the imperialism and cruelty displayed by Spaniards or Italians in implicit contrast to the legacy of the United States, the first nation to drop an atomic bomb on anyone, seems foolhardy.

Whereas Columbus Day polemics seem foolish this, this seems like a perfectly good idea.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/exhibition-native-american-art-will-be-staged-mets-american-wing-first-time-180970457/

assuming there's, you know, no inherent intractable problems with the nature of museums but that's an entirely separate topic and arguably moot in light of the nature of the Western/First World milieu in which we live. 

Belhan Salam raises the question of whether the United States should choose to view China or Russia as the adversary against which to define itself in foreign policy ...

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/china-or-russia-american-enemy/572479/

Well, what if we are the bad guys against which they are defining themselves?   Or to put it another way, if the alliances in the NATO era were built around defending Western (American-British interests with Western Europe along for a post-Marshall Plan ride) interests, what benefit would there be in sustaining those old alliances if the U.S. made China its adversary?  Good luck with that since our economic systems are so intertwined.  Russia ... well ... the idea that the United States has to be against another power in order to define itself seems dubious.  I am vaguely aware there's a streak of conservative thought that has it that ethnically polyphonic empires never survive whereas ethnically centralized empires can go for centuries.  The upshot of that is supposed to be that the more explicitly and deliberately multicultural the American empire tries to be the more it will fail whereas China has a dominant ethnicity and is on the rise ... but ... I'm not sure contemporary reactionaries imagining that a bunch of white men in the Roman empire made a giant empire on the basis of a unified ethnicity.  What Rome had that we theoretically don't have is an imperial cult and an expansive polytheistic religious idiom within which to subordinate or rank interests. 

A lot of people seem really committed to the idea that Russia is the enemy.  I'm not sure I could really say that either Russia or China is "the enemy".  They haven't done anything I'm aware of that would warrant the United States being at war with them.  Endless ranges of human rights violations can't be construed as a reason to start a war.  As an older fellow I knew in college put it, you should never start a war for an ideological reason, there's got to be some clear-cut attainable goal to justify the use of military force and that after every other option has failed.  No domino theory, no bombing people in the name of human rights, none of that.  Over time I began to work out that whatever kind of conservative I thought of myself as being I wasn't a neoconservative and that became clearer over the last twenty years on foreign policy.  You don't have to be a leftist or a liberal or a progressive of any conventionally identifiable stripe to want the United States Department of Defense to be about defense rather than offense.

Maybe because we've exported so much of our manufacturing base to Asian nation states the enemy is going to have to be Russia.  Cold War 2.0 or someting.  Ironically some of the critis of Gulf War 2 and the War oN Terror proposed the problem was we had a bunch of policymakers who were trying to litigate the Cold War all over again with Islam as the new Communist threat.  Not so sure about that ... it can seem that Russia is still the enemy to contain ...


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