Home » Letters » Volume 34 no 3 January – February 2020: Letters

Volume 34 no 3 January – February 2020: Letters

Editorial 33.6
Dear Editor,
Are you suggesting that American philosophers no longer exist? What about David Abram, philosopher, ecologist and performance artist? Marilyn McCord Adams, who recently died? Owen Flanagan with his work on the philosophy of the mind? David Carrier, American philosopher and also art critic? Have you heard of Professor Michael Slote, professor of ethics? The list of well-known American philosophers could go on and on for pages. The American mind is not all superficial and social media focused; some people here still think they can think.
Stanislao Davis 27/11/2019

Hi Stanislao,
Don’t you ‘think’ that artists are also philosophers? Perhaps not all artists, but many try to portray the meaning of life in their work, giving a visual aspect to wisdom and human thought. Philosophy and art are very closely connected in their study of aesthetics, but not only.
Rory Churchill 28/11/2019

Editor,
(disclosure… I have vested interests, being a NAE writer. That out of the way, everything Daniel Nanavati said is admirable.
Miklos Legrady 16/11/2019

Museum of Modern Women
Can you imagine the uproar if this exhibition had been of 50 (men) painters instead of 50 (women) painters?
Charles Barton 15/11/2019

Hi Charles!
Well, sure. And I believe the uproar would be just. The reason why we celebrate an exhibition of 50 women painters in 2019 is because it’s still a relatively rare occurrence, and it carves out space for perspectives that have long been silenced/underrepresented. It is not however a rare occurrence to have an exhibition of only male artists. In fact, I just read this morning in The Washington Post that the Baltimore Museum of Art will only acquire works created by women in 2020. From the article: “A recent survey of 26 of America’s top art museums found that even as the industry has signaled a desire to elevate the work of women, the art world has made minimal progress in the past decade. Between 2008 and 2018, only 11 percent of all acquisitions and 14 percent of exhibitions at the prominent museums were of work by female artists, according to an investigation by Artnet, an art market information company, and “In Other Words,” a podcast and newsletter. Of the 260,470 works of art that have been added to the museums’ permanent collections since 2008, only 29,247 were by women, the survey found.”
This pretty clearly signals why it is important to celebrate exhibitions like ‘Farba Znaczy Krew’, and why I’m also looking forward to the day when this becomes a historical moment to a more inclusive, nuanced, and multi-dimensional future art world.
Link to Washington Post article:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/11/15/baltimore-museum-art-will-only-acquire-works-by-women/
Kathryn Zazenski 16/11/2019

Kathryn,
I completely agree with you Kathryn about “the complex and interconnected narrative of female experience”, which by far surpasses the superficial male experience. In that “these bodies are also full of desire, power, and humanity” is what our fundamental core message is here, something all women can well relate to. I find it amazing that 50 women, perhaps also converted women, showed their works.
We need to redefine what is female, especially considering our role in the art world and the importance shown so far. More!
Isolde Matthews 06/11/2019

Dear Isolde,
Thank you for your comment! I agree that the definition of female is one that is currently being reshaped, along with so many other outdated labels and concepts. The female experience has only ever lacked a platform, never validity. Thankfully today we are working towards a new world that doesn’t exist in binaries but rather recognizes and makes space for complexity and variation. I do however disagree that the female experience surpasses the ‘superficial male experience’. Traditional notions of men and women are full of stereotypes and sweeping generalizations that leave no room to acknowledge the depths of either traditionally-recognized gender, or more holistically, the dimensionality and nuance of the human experience. I tend to support the argument that the historic (and still widely accepted) narrative of the male experience doesn’t create space for men to cultivate and explore the emotional depths that they in fact are capable of and instead has largely reinforced the behaviors that contribute to toxic masculinity. Women have been expected to nurture and expand on our empathic traits while men are expected to quash theirs. Both expectations are stifling and false. It is up to us to use this opportunity to not simply reinforce old power dynamics and to strive for omnipotence, but rather to reshape and redefine what power is and how it is used to support as many bodies and as many experiences as possible, no matter the gender. Empathy is a human trait that needs to be nurtured in all bodies.
Kathryn Zazenski 13/11/2019 4

Kathryn,
Kudos for your article and also for common sense in your reply above, sweeping away gender stereotypes. Justice is never found in pointing the finger claiming “they are bad, we are good”, but in an empathic response that opens trails all can follow. The world needs people who can lead from an inclusive viewpoint, and who write as well as you.
Miklos Legrady 16/11/2019

Miklos,
Thank you. One ripple at a time, change comes in many forms
Kathryn Zazenski 26/11/2019

Hi Kathryn,
What is the contemporary notion of beauty in Polish society? Is it different from the contemporary notion of beauty in American society?
Adrian Connard 05/11/2019

Hi Adrian!
The idea of beauty in Poland is just as simultaneously one-noted and complex as it is in any other Western, capitalist country. National adverts largely promote lean, light-skinned bodies which is a reflection of the extremely homogenous demographic, a very standard totem in the contemporary canon of contemporary public, feminine bodies. But, as with other Westernized international cities, there are international brands that promote a broader face. But what I think is perhaps more interesting to consider rather than a Polish/American duality is how beauty is perceived generationally. I stand to believe that there are greater similarities between a 25-year-old Polish woman and her American counterpart than either has with her babcia. Social media connects previously-bounded spaces, people can much more freely experiment with aesthetics and their cultural and conceptual underpinnings in ways that have never before existed. This, in my opinion, has the greatest bearing on how beauty lives and breathes in a given place, as physical location is only one small aspect of our contemporary lived spaces.
Kathryn Zazenski 13/11/2019

Hi Kathryn,
I wish you could write more on the “terrifyingly thin skin of shame” you write about in your conclusion. It highlights one of the hidden issues women face today; sometimes it takes a lot of courage to go out there and partake in what’s rightfully ours.
Is the catalog of this exhibition available anywhere? I searched for it online, but didn’t find anything.
Eugenia Tattersall 25/10/2019

Eugenia,
Unfortunately the catalogue is only available in Polish, I would recommend contacting the museum for purchasing details. And to your comment, you’re spot-on. The courage it takes to stand up to the abuses, being overlooked and undervalued, from the most ‘mundane’ to the most egregious instances, is monumental. Transgressions occur everyday to the point where many of us don’t even notice them anymore. It’s never easy to be the first in any category, but I believe that what makes this ‘skin of shame’ so complicated and palpable is the twisted expectations and perceptions related to contemporary notions of female sex and sexuality that continually de-humanizes and objectifies, especially in places like the puritanically-rooted US or Catholic Poland. Just over one year ago Christine Blasey-Ford testified during a public Senate Judiciary Committee only to be subjected to a circus of abuse and scrutiny by peers, colleagues, strangers, media, politicians, her abuser, and the President of the United States of America. Even now, as the tide of the #metoo movement ebbs, women who have come forward are largely revealing that speaking out hasn’t in fact provided the relief and justice that perhaps the early days promised but rather has forced these bodies, mostly female, into the public with stories of pain and fear and suffering, condemned to perpetual skepticism, blame, and doubt. Does this mean we should stop talking about this cultural epidemic, stop reporting our rapes and assaults and threats and discriminations? No. Does this mean it will be any less humiliating? Will it become more safe for victims? I don’t know. But, what we all already know is that it simply cannot continue as it stands. So, hopefully with each public washing of this shame it will become thinner and thinner to the point where we will no longer be responsible for it anymore. I believe this day will come I just don’t have a clue as to when.
Kathryn Zazenski 13/11/2019

Hi Julia,
Would you be open to my curatorial group of students perhaps writing an essay or article on their thesis exhibition. The subject is Darkness/Night….migration movement, surveillance, hidden economies and so on.
They could write it collectively or someone could take the lead. It would not necessarily even be about their actual show, but more the subject.
Would that be of interest?
Darren Jones, Editor New York

(Yes! Ed.)

 

Volume 34 no 3 January – February 2020: Letters pp 2-3

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Cornelius Townsend
05/02/2020 8:22 am

To Stanislao Davis,
Were you being facetious with your final sentence, “The American mind is not all superficial and social media focused; some people here still think they can think.”? Philosophy apart, I get the opinion you consider yourself one of God’s given thinkers. Am I wrong? However, I looked you up and you’re not on any of the academic registers.
Ready for a duel?

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