“I saw that as being this moment of defiance — a way of making a ghost that nobody ever wanted to see appear and haunt.”

An old photograph of Michael Rakowitz’s Jewish-Iraqi family from Bahgdad
An old photograph of Michael Rakowitz’s Jewish-Iraqi family from Bahgdad

How can we care for one another — our families, our neighbors, our fellow citizens — in the face of uncertainty, tragedy, and hardship, be it unprecedented or all-too-familiar? Can we recognize and re-write what artist Michael Rakowitz might call these “narratives of dispossession and dehumanization and isolation”?

For Enemy Kitchen, produced with More Art in 2007, Rakowitz, with the help of his Iraqi-Jewish mother, compiled Baghdadi recipes to teach to different public audiences; in this case, middle and high school students. Iraqi culture is virtually invisible in the US beyond the nightly news (and even there, defined by war…

Ways of coping with the past, present, and future, this month on Medium

This month’s featured articles, collected here as the May edition of Watch This Space, all seem to ask: what do artists know? The modes of questioning vary but the spirits of inquiry — and the strongly held belief in those outcomes — are kindred. After a year and then some of hardship, uncertainty, and unrest, and on the precipice of the oft-alluded to “return to normal”, what do we turn to artists for? Our politics, our palliation, our pleasure?

At the risk of oversimplifying (and of too…

Can humor offer a route to radical change?

What’s so funny about the art world? Like any self-serious cultural behemoth, both plenty and much too little. Pablo Helguera has long felt that a serious sense of humor is missing from most corners of contemporary art, though particularly the hyper-institutionalized side of things.

He’s a bit of jokester — pieces and projects throughout his career include tours explicitly of areas where art is not on display, dressing up as an over-eager Q-and-A audience member, a lot of fake art fair guides, jokes, and jibes — much of which stems from a…

“Art has lost its centuries-old ideological privilege, and yet has gained in this process a front-row seat in a contentious struggle to rethink the way expressive, imaginative, and artistic value is generated, for whom, why, and to what ends.”

This is Part 3 of a selection from Greg Sholette’s essay “Can a Transformative Avant-Garde Art Survive in a World of Lolcats, Doomsday Preppers, and Xenonphobic Frog Memes? Do We Have a Choice?” from More Art in Public Eye; catch up on Part 1 and Part 2.

“What is social practice in a post-social world?” Scholar, artist, and activist Greg Sholette

“Art is not the production of artworks; art is research. And if we view art as research, we recognize the outcomes as our knowledge, and I’m interested in the kinds of knowledge that artists have unique access to.”

“A film or artwork never exists free of context,” affirms artist, filmmaker, and educator Andrew Freiband, “and I believe that developing models for effectively contextualizing creative work, and putting the qualitative knowledge of creative practitioners to use, can amplify art’s capacity for impact, knowledge creation, and social catalysis.” Well put, but what might a belief in said model end up looking like…

“Ambiguous loss has been a huge part of the pandemic. So many people have lost loved ones — they just disappeared from our lives, we haven’t been able to gather to properly mourn these losses.”

How do you memorialize someone you’ve never met and whose name you may never know? So the Museum of Modern Art frames artist Freya Powell’s recent work, Only Remains Remain, an immersive performance addressing the contemporary tragedy at the US-Mexico border through the characters of Sophocles’ Antigone. As Powell discusses below, the performance was set to debut in March of 2020, part of her VW…

This month on Medium, getting in touch with ourselves and each other, past and present.

For the past year and change, we have been apart and yet perhaps more frequently in touch. With barriers of physical distance removed (to a certain degree) by technology, something else seems to have been erected in its place. This new kind of interface was a main topic of discussion in our recent At The Table virtual salon with Ofri Cnaani. How do we keep in touch in a contactless space, in an age of hyper-communication? Can we survive without touch, without skin? …

An interview with writer Camilla Calhoun, part of More Art and Mary Mattingly’s A Year of Public Water

With the consolidation of Greater New York in 1898, there were suddenly many more people relying on the City’s public water supply. In 1905, the New York State Legislature established the Board of Water Supply (BWS) and imbued the Board with significant power to dictate land use, seize land through eminent domain, and realize a massive expansion of the New York City water supply.

Attempts to expand the existing Croton System northward to Dutchess County failed when residents mobilized in opposition to this plan. But by August 1905, the BWS ordered engineers to draw up maps and develop a plan…

“I really live in a constant state of trust. I ask to be surprised all the time.”

By 2024, NASA plans to have landed the first woman on the moon under the auspices of the Artemis program. Named after the Greek goddess of the moon (and of wild animals, the hunt, and chastity), who is also the twin sister of Apollo, namesake of NASA’s previous lunar expeditions, the mission will explore more of the moon’s surface than ever before and serve as a crucial jumping-off point for sending the first astronauts to Mars. One giant leap for womankind, indeed!

What does this new journey mean in a social context? The poetic undertones are apparent — a convergence…

“We have a moment of alienation, of asking a question, and that by itself is a jump start for deeper inquiries.”

New York City has long been recognized as a place where marginalized figures and outsiders are celebrated. But, as with cities across the country and globe, gentrification continually, brutally upends that dynamic —and in the process, New York has become more conservative, sanitized, and consumer-oriented. …

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More Art creates thought-provoking public art projects and educational programs that inspire broad discourse around social and cultural issues.

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