Rachel Harrison

Kapwani Kiwanga of Canada

Blake Gopnik wrote on Facebook that  Rachel Harrison’s work “inhabits the art world with zero friction. It ticks every box for what art is supposed to look like and be and do”. FACEPALM!   TI’d say  Rachel Harrison has no idea what art is, like  so many artists who graduate from the university of conformity.


Art historian and critic Barbara Rose wrote: “What was done in Duchamp’s name… was responsible for some of the most vulgar non-art still being produced by ignorant and lazy artists whose thinking stops with the idea of putting a found object in a museum.”

Jerry Saltz agrees; “Anarchy Lite; it’s everywhere, and it all looks the same. Those post-minimalist formal arrangements of clunky stuff, sticks, planks, bent metal, wood, concrete and whatnot leaned, stacked, stuck, piled, or dispersed. There’s usually a history straight out of Artforum or the syllabi of academics who’ve scared their students into being pleasingly meek, imitative, and ordinary.”

Rachel Harrison’s work   suggests that  when no one knows what art is anymore charlatans hold sway.   Um… every other profession knows what they are doing.  The art world is a field  where you can get away with serious bullshit as it’s uncouth to object; being critical  is rude and feelings get hurt.

Lawrence Weiner’s non-art

Lisson Gallery

Weiner’s work isn’t art, it’s interior decoration. Roger Scrutton wrote that “faking depends on a measure of complicity between the perpetrator and the victim, who together conspire to believe what they don’t believe and to feel what they are incapable of feeling…”  Science says real art is specific; it’s not anything you can get away with. Weiner’s art, what he got away with, consists of networking, marketing, selling the emperor’s vintage clothes.  Unfortunately academia  accepts that as a legitimate art strategy.


Art historians consider Lawrence Weiner a forerunner of conceptual art. Weiner is best known for setting text directly onto walls. As viewers read the piece, they complete Weiner’s projects – conjuring their own mental images of what he describes. Weiner attained fame when everything became art. At the age of 19, young Weiner astounded art critics across the nation by blowing up a stick of dynamite in the desert. His work today is done by assistants, so it’s not his work, only his concept; Weiner calls himself a non-artist, calls his work non-art – he’s right,  it’s not art.

These distinctions are important according to Denis Dutton. In his youtube video “The Art Instinct, a Darwinian Theory of Beauty”,Dutton argues that aesthetic awareness is an evolutionary trait, and is shaped by natural selection. It’s not, as most contemporary art criticism and academic theory would have it, ‘socially constructed’. The human appreciation for art is innate, and certain artistic values transcend cultures. It seems that an aesthetic perception has in part ensured the survival of the perceiver’s genes. What does that mean for the entire discipline of art? Dutton argues, with forceful logic and hard evidence, that art criticism needs to be premised on an understanding of evolution, not on abstract theories.

In an interview Weiner said that there is no need for skill in art.  However Weiner requires his hired artists to be skillful,  which draws our attention to his role in the process.  Since anyone can think up words to paint on a wall, it takes a special someone to convince curators and patrons to buy into one’s brand.  Weiner’s art is not the art of an artist, it is the art of a salesman, Weiner is brilliant at selling himself & his ideas but does not know much nor does he care that much about art.


“A festival in the Bronx organized by the New Museum was cancelled… less than an hour after it started. IdeasCity Bronx, which was supposed to feature a series of discussion panels, artist talks, performances, and workshops, was shut down after Bronx-based activists disrupted the event’s first session, held at Concrete Plant Park on the Bronx River. A number of local Bronx grassroots organizations that were slated to participate in the festival announced their withdrawal before the events commencd, saying that “the  New Museum has never invested anything into the Bronx… They are not contributing any long term financial backing or support into any of the ideas that come from today.” Hypoallergenic, Sept. 2019.

Activist Tiara Torres at an anti-gentrification protest in the Bronx in March 2019
(photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Here is the New Museum investing in the local community, engaging local artists, but Hydro Punk activists shut it down because the New Museum has not previously invested in the local community or engaged local artists. Doesn’t Hydro Punk sound like Rudolph Giuliani?

There are also accusations that the museums and art galleries are driving gentrification. Forcing out the poor who can no longer afford the rent. But not all of this is as it seems.

We need to beware the fascist right wing, and we must also beware the fascist left wing. They exist, yes. They are professional justice warriors fuelled by ‘anger with benefits’. Having decided that the New Museum doesn’t put anything back into the community, they shut down the New Museum putting back into the community. But why? “We have encountered a new type of predatory censorship, a desire to take offence, that patrols the world for opportunities. As with the Puritans of the 17th century, there is the need to humiliate and to punish” (Roger Scruton). I think there are other benefits: the power and spotlight that draws the Justice Warrior to their public acts of injustice.

Let’s note it’s not the New Museum or the art galleries causing gentrification. The artists themselves are responsible for that by being poor. Artists are the ones who move into poor neighbourhoods because that’s all they can afford. The solution is to stop artists moving into poor neighbourhoods and gentrifying them, otherwise there’ll be no slums left in New York. Since artists gentrify hoods and raise commercial values, that means there are also other people who can slumify hoods and lower their commercial value, creating slums. Take junkies or street thugs. If hoods are gentrified, where will they go? For the sake of social justice, take a junkie  or a street thug home with you tonight. Help end the suffering.

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