Previous: Time-Traveling Art Critics (1)
Next: Modernism Against the Institutions: An interview by Elizabeth Johnson (1)
A Bold Proposal for Hyperallergic
Post #1884 • January 20, 2021, 4:15 PM
Recently Hyperallergic published an essay by Cancel Galleries, whose bio reads, “An anonymous instagram account sharing stories of discrimination, exploitation, and abuse in the commercial art world.” Titled “How We Can Hold Art Galleries Accountable,” it got picked up at ArtsJournal under the headline “A Bold Proposal For Galleries.” What is the bold proposal? In a word, die. “Cancel them. No reform. Abolition,” as ArtsJournal sums it up. Cancel Galleries elaborates:
Let’s be real: galleries are feudal systems for hoarding wealth, property, and people that cannot be reformed with momentary or incremental adjustments. If it were up to us, art galleries would be made obsolete alongside slavery, prisons, police, and capitalism more broadly.
Although these art world ills have been apparent to many for a long time, few have proposed effective solutions; perhaps because a business that traffics in people like a plantation or auction house cannot be reformed but rather needs to be destroyed.
Cancel Galleries posts anonymous reports of mistreatment by workers at various galleries to an account with twelve thousand followers. I am inclined to believe them. I was once mistreated as press by some miserable mid-tier administrator at a mega-gallery I won’t name, having informed him that I was writing about his show for a particular art world glossy. After I put him in his place, he stormed off to abuse the handsome lad at the front desk.
It does not follow from there that galleries, generally, should be abolished. Nor is it apparent how one would go about abolishing them, just as it is not clear, and has never been clear, how to go about abolishing capitalism in a manner that did not finally end in disaster. Anyone who continues to doubt this—which in 2021 is akin to doubting that the world is round—should read Kristian Niemietz’s Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies. It is reviewed here by an organization that offers, for free, The XYZ’s of Socialism, which describes in plain language why socialist projects collapse, every time, into chaos, privation, and death.
“How We Can Hold Art Galleries Accountable” is short and stupid and fails to make its title pay off, so I’ll proceed to my main objection, namely to this:
For example, Rachel Lehmann, in The Art Newspaper responded to our published accounts of David Maupin’s anti-Black aggressions by saying, “The gallery program speaks for itself.” This confirmed our suspicions that the gallery tokenizes their artists of color to dismiss the possibility of racism occurring within their workplace, which in and of itself is racist. Similarly, David Kordansky Gallery was praised in the New York Times as a white savior of Black artists, but the writer excluded the fact that its staff is so overwhelmingly white that their artist Lauren Halsey demanded the hiring of Black models in order to have Black people included in installation views of her work at the gallery. These kinds of heartfelt stories perpetuate the liberal myth that white people take initiative by their own conscience, rather than more radical and threatening interventions.
Let that last line sink in: an online publication of some importance to the art world really did just say that no white person was ever prompted to action by his conscience. The vaunted moral inferiority of whites justifies “radical and threatening interventions” against them because nothing less causes their behavior towards other races to improve. This is racist as hell. They are implicitly calling for harassment and violence.
I direct you further to the dog whistles. Just as when John Yau listed the art critics who exemplify the “racial and cultural prejudices” that supposedly caused the supposedly undue neglect of George Miyasaki, just as when multiple authors joined the Warren Kanders pile-on, just as when Hrag Vartanian assented to Kaywin Feldman’s sickening claim that Philip Guston “appropriated black trauma” to make his Klan paintings, then subsequently refused to entertain discussion that any prejudice against the artist was involved, Hyperallergic is demonstrating once again that when it focuses its race hatred enough to name particular targets, those names are predominantly Jewish.
This is not yet another coincidence. It is a pattern. Antisemitism is a feature of the woke identitarianism exemplified at Hyperallergic, and it is time to stop giving passes to its bigot editor and its bigot contributors.
Combined anxieties about Jews and money date all the way to Judas’s betrayal of Jesus. They made Jews’ lives miserable throughout the Christian era, passed into secular leftism via Marx himself, who called money “the jealous god of Israel,” and continue to this day. Believe me, we Ashkenazim know what a lot of these professed anti-capitalists are really talking about when they rail against “white people” as untroubled by conscience and in need of a forceful corrective from the outside. To which we’re obliged to reply, take a number, you’re not the only customer in the store.
While it’s not clear how to abolish the galleries, it’s quite clear how to hold Hyperallergic accountable. If you subscribe, unsubscribe. If you advertise with them, stop. If you run a gallery, cease sending them PR. If one of their writers wants to review your show, ask him if yours is one of the galleries that ought to be destroyed. Ask him further what his editor is doing to address his antisemitism. You get the idea.
What Hyperallergic recommends for the galleries, I recommend for Hyperallergic: disappear, and take your racist filth with you.