Previous: Some Context Regarding Max Hollein

Hollein Post Reactions

Post #1852 • December 2, 2019, 5:59 PM • 2 Comments

Increasingly, the reactions I get to posts at Artblog.net are being made to me in private. I'd like to share some that I received in response to Some Context Regarding Max Hollein, with sizable alterations so as to protect the authors, but not alterations of substance. First:

To your remark that shaming people is not effective politics: I have been trying to understand the phenomenon. There is something satisfying in it, and also addictive, because if you are bad then I must be better.

The whole thrust of identitarian progressivism goes like, Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with you. Shaming has the advantage of requiring neither persuasion nor self-criticism, that is, none of the responsibility or humility that goes along with a genuinely informed view. You get to be right because of who you are.

The Catholic Church teaches that everyone is called to be a saint. Good works come naturally from work you have done on yourself. There are lots of assistive devices for that work: prescribed prayers and meditations, the examples of the saints and sacraments. Confession grants you a new start and free psychoanalysis. It is very different from run-of-the-mill do-gooderism, which is actually about making you feel good about yourself.

And the do-gooderism that comes standard out of the mill these days entails hardly any work of any kind, much less work on one oneself: condemnations on social media, pulling fire alarms at speaking engagements that feature political undesirables, more yelling and less reasoning.

Academic Marxism rules, and its ends justify its means. Now we see incivility being tolerated. When groupthink takes over, very quickly governments can kill their own citizens. We must think about this all the time. It takes a village to kill a Jew.

In fact I deleted a line to that effect from the Hollein post, as possibly distracting. In an escalating conflict between identitarian progressives and identitarian reactionaries, I would be inclined to root for casualties, except for the rising probability that the casualties will include me. Einspruch's Iron Law of Identitarianism: All identitarians, regardless of political bent, eventually conclude that The Real Problem Around Here Is The Jews.

Philippe de Montebello held the fort for a long time. Now we are fucked.

This may be true, but it's also possible to imagine scenarios in which Hollein's support falls apart. For one, identitarian progressivism of the contemporary sort has never had to endure a recession. Also, the Iron Law suggests that Hollein or one of his hires will eventually "recontextualize"—that is, denigrate—some Jewish art, at which point all hell will break loose. That sounds farfetched but it's difficult for some of these would-be players to keep the whole picture in their heads. See, for instance, that time that the Village Voice tried to accuse Kehinde Wiley of sexual exploitation.

I agree with you for the most part and I see it in every museum and exhibition.

It's important to note that this phenomenon is hardly contained to the Met.

Did you see this article at the New York Post, The move to cancel Gauguin could kill off Western culture?

I have now. Steven Cuozo knows what's up:

At a current Paul Gauguin exhibition at London’s National Gallery, visitors are warned that the famous French painter had sexual relationships with young girls, including two with whom he fathered children.... An audio guide even raises the question, “Is it time to stop looking at Gauguin altogether?”...

The “warnings” against Gauguin are another step toward excommunicating every Western creative talent from the realm of permissible enjoyment. If left unopposed, the PC fascists will inevitably ban everything by Western-world artists, writers and musicians due to perceived “sensitivities” or “colonialist” violations.

I repeat, this "recontextualization" effort is going to be applied exclusively to Western art. I'm against tossing around a term like fascist too lightly, but "Woke Totalitarian" doesn't have quite enough sting.

This is truly depressing, but by now it's normal, or at least normalized. Granted, in New York City, Senator Provolone can get elected and re-elected by people who presume to be far more sophisticated than the rest of the known universe. But even so, we're not just talking fashion victimhood, but fashion whoredom.

I think a lot of people are struck first and foremost by the transparent opportunism at work here. Many who are not opposed to inclusivity per se look at Hollein's bald acquisition of social capital by voicing these identity politics concerns and feel a little slimed.

I saw some of this during my torturous time as an arts administrator. I know I come more from the left than you do on many things, but I am pretty much shoulder to shoulder with you on much of the stuff you write about here.

And I feel bad for my non-identitarian progressive friends who want a fairer and more peaceful world and have eyes to see what a nightmare these identitarians are.

Comment

1.

Doug Bowker

December 5, 2019, 12:01 PM

Though it's helpful that you wear your tagline on your sleeve in regards to "All identitarians, regardless of political bent, eventually conclude that The Real Problem Around Here Is The Jews," I'm not so sure that one couldn't insert any number of other groups (women, blacks, gays) and claim the same theoretical high ground. At the same time I keep wondering: does what happens in the elite discourses within the art world matter that much? Obviously it matters, and yet... How many tears does Gauguin, a known pedophile and all around sonofabitch, truly deserve? Thirty years ago while taking an art history class entitled "Art of the Fin de siècle" I recall writing an essay around the question of not "whether his work should ever be seen, but perhaps how much it should be revered?" I didn't have a definitive answer even for myself, but it's not like it's a "new" sentiment. Either way, all of this remains very clearly academic compared to the very real, motivated, growing, and most importantly, armed forces that already expressly state that: "indeed the Jews are not just part of the problem, but are the ones behind pretty much all of the problems." Surely the White Power identitarians are much more of a real threat to us all than art critics trashing the reps of Gauguin or N.C. Wyeth?

2.

Franklin

December 7, 2019, 10:53 AM

I'm not so sure that one couldn't insert any number of other groups (women, blacks, gays) and claim the same theoretical high ground.

In fact the Jews are a special case in that while the identitarian conservatives have a problem with them for the usual reasons, the identitarian progressives also develop a problem with them. See, for instance, how anti-Semitism infected the Women's March and the Corbyn-led Labour Party. This is not the case with other marginalized groups.

At the same time I keep wondering: does what happens in the elite discourses within the art world matter that much? Obviously it matters, and yet...

This line of thinking leads inevitably to the conclusion that we should throw our hands up and walk away from art. It's a view, but I don't share it.

How many tears does Gauguin, a known pedophile and all around sonofabitch, truly deserve? Thirty years ago while taking an art history class entitled "Art of the Fin de siècle" I recall writing an essay around the question of not "whether his work should ever be seen, but perhaps how much it should be revered?" I didn't have a definitive answer even for myself, but it's not like it's a "new" sentiment.

When Gauguin was in French Polynesia, the French age of consent was 13, and within his lifetime it had been 11. I find that as icky as you do, but the impulse to backport our mores to theirs interferes with understanding what was going on at the time. To me this has an easy answer: We ought to admire Gauguin's work, and we can take a pass on admiring the man. There's really no need to answer it because the work compells admiration anyway, and the question is whether you want to go through the act of talking yourself out of it. To do so is to injure your taste.

Either way, all of this remains very clearly academic compared to the very real, motivated, growing, and most importantly, armed forces that already expressly state that: "indeed the Jews are not just part of the problem, but are the ones behind pretty much all of the problems." Surely the White Power identitarians are much more of a real threat to us all than art critics trashing the reps of Gauguin or N.C. Wyeth?

Both progressive and reactionary identitarians rely on the idea that the other side is growing in order to shore up support. In fact, anti-Semitic assaults are apparently decreasing even as reported incidents - including, for instance, taunts - spike. It is not clear whether that spike was caused by an increase of incidents or an increase of reporting. The source for this testified before Congress this summer, and the Huffington Post, motivated as one would expect, completely smeared him.

Meanwhile, the progressive identitarians have totally overwhelmed the art world, a milieu in which conservative identitarians have no purchase, despite the claims of the former that the latter are ubiquitous within it. So my day-to-day is dominated by people who want to eliminate me by "soft" means, even as miscreants who want to eliminate me by "hard" means lurk in the background. I regard both of these threats as real, with probability and severity inversely and oppositely correlated.

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