“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” -Proverb
Social media has given rise to revolutions like the Arab Spring. It has also become a shield behind which well-meaning friends stand in order to preserve their carefully cultivated narratives. We live in unrest. Entire populations are systematically and institutionally maligned. And yet those who live with the most privilege are often the first to fire in social media battles. The inherent nature of white privilege is such that it is undetectable to those that live it. White privilege disguises itself in a mask of normalcy which, when disrupted, causes discomfort to those within. Artist Natasha Marin describes this phenomenon, “everything is white centered…the default setting is white centered.” It is only when one steps outside this narrow context that the nature of privilege can be viewed. Saying is not doing. A thousand Facebook posts mean nothing if no action is undertaken.
Shimon Attie exhibited two major museum shows in the last year examining issues pertaining to refugees. Presently he is beginning work on a public, site-specific media installation in the waters of the East River in Manhattan and Brooklyn. This, too, will address the topic of immigrants and refugees. The piece is slated for September 2018. The project is backed by a New York nonprofit called More Art whose mission is to produce public art that engages local communities in New York City. While much of Attie’s work appears message-oriented and examines issues he cares about, he says, “ultimately I’m trying to be a good artist and make strong work.” Rather his work is non-binary and open to interpretation. In spring of 2017, Attie showed two works at the St. Louis Art Museum. One, a commissioned new work, was titled Lost in Space (After Huck). The work drew on the museum’s proximity to both the Mississippi River and Ferguson, Missouri, bringing together historical and present-day issues of race. The second piece titled The Crossing, exhibited in both St. Louis and Germany is a single channel short video created with seven Syrian refugees who had recently arrived in Europe on a raft. The piece uses the game of Roulette as a metaphor for the refugee experience. St. Louis Art Museum recently acquired The Crossing for their permanent collection. Lost in Space (After Huck) will be shown by Jack Shainman gallery’s upstate space, The School in Kinderhook, New York.
Natasha Marin is a poet and interdisciplinary artist based in Seattle. Her most recent project is called The Center for Centering White Women and can be found on Facebook. The project uses pointed satire to examine the often wrong-headed approach that white women take in the discussion of racial issues. Marin describes her work is “anti-troll troll tactics.” Marin points to comedy as a way that deeper lessons can often be learned. The Center can be used as a tag to call out people on social media. Marin believes that The Center could offer transformative power to people of color, removing the burden of proof when it comes to discussing issues of race with their white friends. Marin points to an underlying desire to be offended as a driver for online behavior. Marin’s first project out of graduate school titled Graduate Graffiti, funded by the city of Austin, was the first of many public art programs she has created. Marin receives frequent funding from the city of Seattle for public artworks. For the first project, Marin involved over 40 artists. Marin prefers to work in collaboration with other artists. She says, “it is more enjoyable to share an experience.” For her next collaboration, Marin will explore the inner self along with artist Rachel Ferguson. She says, “art is a technology that we use to remember ourselves and to re-imagine ourselves.” Marin is the author of Milk and the creator of a number of other projects.
A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:
Privilege is clever and self-preserving. It disguises itself as the mundane in order to survive.
Books to Read
What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Natasha Marin recently read one of Michael Chricton’s posthumously published novels. Books she keeps close are The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness by Nicole Fleetwood.
Opportunities / Open Calls
Randall Frank Artist Grants offer financial support for residencies, exhibitions, and artist-led lectures. Current deadline for submissions is December 1.
Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.