museums as problematic

IMG_7003I often listen to podcasts while doing rote or simple tasks and this morning, while carving on a linoleum block, I listened to one of my favorites, CounterSpin from Fairness and Accountability in Reporting, or FAIR, @ https://fair.org/counterspin-radio/. The program interviews  a lot of sources that do not commonly get approached by corporate media reporters and talks about how corporate media often under- or mis- represent very important issues, policy or cultural trends to the detriment of citizens. The show I listened to today was an interview with Amin Husain, an organizer with the cultural activism group Decolonize This Place. The show’s host and interviewer, Janine Jackson, asks us to consider, “Cultural institutions are important sites of public conversation, but the public doesn’t have much say in who gets to lead that conversation, or the stories they tell. Activists are asking us to talk about what that means, and what it would mean to change it.” Her interview with Amin Husain discusses a lot of good points about colonization, ethnocentrism, wealth and equality. And it poses really important questions about the value of art, as culture, as manifest spirituality and as something that we assign monetary worth. It’s a really good listen, even if you’re not particularly interested in art and museums.

10/13/19   Here’s another interesting radio show about the role of museums in history and art: Fred Wilson Uses the Museum as His Palette on PRI.org

From the interview page: A New York-born conceptual artist and MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, Wilson has spent a lot of his career examining the way art and artifacts are chosen and exhibited. He wants everybody — the curators and the visitors — to reconsider how and why artwork makes its way into museums.

 

Thank you for your work.

Artist/activist Shan Goshorn has died and she will be missed. She was a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and, although her basket work received a lot of attention, she was an accomplished multi-media artist. I admired her work and her way of being an artist on her own terms. 

In her own words from her website, http://www.shangoshorn.net, she says this about her work and her ideals: 

My intention is to present historical and contemporary issues that continue to be relevant to Indian people today, to a world that still relies on Hollywood as a reliable informant about Indian life.

It was a thrilling accident to discover that the vessel shapes of baskets are a non-threatening vehicle to educate audiences.  But even more exciting, I am observing viewers literally leaning into my work, eager to learn more about the history of this country’s First People which can lead to the next wonderful step of engaging in honest dialogue about the issues that still plague Indian people today. America has believed a one-sided history for too long. Acknowledging and addressing these past atrocities is movement towards true racial healing… which has always been the goal of my work as an artist.

Shan Goshorn

July 2016