I was invited to a talk given by Rafael Lorenzo-Hemmer at the Hirshhorn Museum who are exhibiting three of his heart-beat installations. His talk, given at 7pm in the cinema-like auditorium, was an object lesson in complacency.
Rafael has, as with other contemporary super-stars, a small full time industrial team of fifteen working on his ideas and when he said two of them were ‘Trump refugees’ the Washington audience of over 100 people, laughed. One woman cheered at another aside he gave on Trump and they all clapped heartily at his description of his next idea to take place on the Mexican/US border, with searchlights in both countries criss-crossing in the sky.
The woman sitting next to me, interpr
eting the introductory video on his life of work so far, read off the shows and the countries: ‘Sydney…Mexico…London…Paris… he’s been all over the world.’ As if this, in itself, were indicative of his worth. The loud clapping and the sounds of approval for Rafael’s views gave me pause for thought.
Three days before, on the previous Sunday, in Pittsburgh, 11 Jewish people were murdered in their Synagogue. The greatest slaughter of Jewish people on American soil in American history. I am led to the thought that those who resist in their cultural enclaves the growing fascism in the USA, those who think by supporting a light show at the Hirshhorn they are fighting Trump, those who, despite all that is happening, maintain their ‘niceness’ and self indulgent liberality, are compliant to the will of the fascists. The people who are not nice are those who resist and resisting fascism is a deadly game. People are going to die in their thousands before this is dealt with but just as passion can degenerate into indifference, just as an art movement driven by men and women of vision and longing can within a generation become no more than mannerist so too a people, founding a nation on high principles and dedicated to those principles, can degenerate into ‘nice’ fascists.
Cicero, and many others, mourned that fact that the Emperor and his cohorts could enact the most profound assaults upon the Republic as long as the people were given a Games to take their minds off what was really happening.
Rafael’s light shows are a diversion. I don’t know how much it cost to mount this diversion in DC but I do know it will cost lives because it is not, and it never will be, the way to fight American fascism.
7 thoughts on “Editorial”
As I read the editorial about Rafael Lorenzo-Hemmer’s talk at the Hirshhorn Museum and other reviews of artists’ work here in the New Art Examiner, I noticed the total absence of coverage of African, Asian and South American artists. The magazine is missing what’s happening out there, as the art scene isn’t just American and European today. It goes far beyond the canned art that comes out of easy living and artists’ assistants who do the work for these “Famous Artists”.
Our Chicago Editor is black and has reviewed a number of African American artists. Also, the lead story recently was on the movie Black Panther. Also for the record, the New Art Examiner decades ago was the first national art publication to publish a whole issue devoted to African American art, edited by Keith Morrison, a black Jamaican. As Robert Hughes once published a book on USA culture called the “Culture of Complaint’, and while I agree racism is a major issue, I also think that complaint in many cases is used as a simple-minded issue. The real problem is there is not enough spirit of generosity in US culture and everything is politicized. Liberals, as well as Conservatives, genuine caring and a genuine progression, is not appreciated. In short, everything is some kind of power play. We have suffered from discrimination, but it is not racist or feminist, as the late Jane Addams and I were white, just free-thinking intellectuals.
Derek Guthrie, Co-founder of the NAE
P.S. At times I have the awful thought, if we had been brown, black, lesbian or gay, we might have had in some respects an easier passage in the art world.
In answer to your p.s., the situation is getting more and more difficult for people and companies who are not members of the protected groups. “The nine ‘protected characteristics’ are sex, age, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, religion and belief, race and disability.” A 25 year old physics graduate in the Uk “was turned down by police force where his detective inspector father works for not being disabled, black, transgender or gay finally gets officer job.” It is a strange world we live in. from: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7086325/Police-recruit-rejected-white-heterosexual-male-joins-force.html
Though I am happy there is more equality for people once discriminated against, we all need to be treated equally.
Do you think that if i were a pregnant, disabled, black, transgender artist I would have more chance of success than a normal white heterosexual artist?
Slightly confused by your use of the Magritte to illustrate your views on this exhibition and American fascism. Why this Magritte?
Thank you for pointing out this mistake
It isn’t just the American fascism we need to fight, it’s gone way beyond the US borders and may have already been hopelessly unleashed, as it is rapidly gaining strength and enthusiasm in Australia, Europe and the UK. Julian Assange is just one of the victims; soon others will follow.
Many thanks to Al Jirokowick for citing Caitlin Johnstone’s article, “More Police Raids As War On Journalism Escalates Worldwide” in which she laments the decline of free press.
“So we’re seeing a pattern already. You can choose to ignore it or dismiss it with a pleasant story, or you can acknowledge that we appear to be in the midst of a rapidly escalating shutdown of the free press in the western world.”
So why don’t we all rebel and protest? Isn’t anyone afraid of what’s coming? “Journalists must unite and remember that courage is also contagious… Does humanity wish to create a society that is based on truth and holds power to account, or does it want the exact opposite?”
The matters that we do not talk about are the most important and urgent ones. As the unraveling of Trump edges forward each day a dreadful conscientious is dragged into the limelight. As I said before, most artists, like the rest of society, are herded into pens of fashion, which is bounded and defined by inertia, fear and apathy.
The specter of fascism is again present, but the less spectacular fascism is the more important one. They are not loading trains, but degrading thinkers and artists that they do not make money off or gain status from. Our only hope for life is life itself.