Weekend Links: The Summer of our Disconnect

The art world was delighted to see Ai Weiwei finally released from prison, even as it held its breath to see what conditions China may have placed upon the artist’s freedom. Meanwhile, perfectly free artists the world over – by “world” read “New York” – squander their liberty every day by mindlessly churning out whatever the collectors want to see (and hear). All this and more in this edition of Weekend Links.

So many images of Ai Weiwei out there, and no one’s been heading up their posts with THIS one yet??? (Source: blog.aiweiwei.com)

The death knell of contemporary creativity: The primary theme sparking its way across the arts blogosphere this week was kicked off, perhaps unsurprisingly, by Jerry Saltz’s post-Venice observation that today’s young artists are too well-schooled, market-savvy and enslaved to pre-existing cultural tropes to produce anything truly revolutionary. Mira Schor kicks the ball back with more agreement than not, further indicting the MFA educational system and the lack of political drive in today’s art, but I’m giving that leading link to Hyperallergic for calling out the failure of both critics to look further than Venice or New York City for the new wave they crave. Mainstream critics like Saltz and Schor are equally responsible for reinforcing the dominant market trends when they focus their coverage on the arenas of greatest monetary worth; one needs to dig deeper, and further afield, to find those rebellious voices that may have already rejected what places like New York represent in favour of the neglected new.

The relative freedom of Ai Weiwei: The excellent news is that Ai Weiwei has now been released from his three month long detention, and that it’s starting to look like all four of his studio assistants are now free as well. However, questions remain surrounding the terms of his release – no one is certain whether his artistic production will cease by state order (or as a point of protest on Ai’s part should the Chinese authorities prefer him to continue as normal), but so far it seems apparent that his prolific Twitter activities have come to a chilling halt.

An office, a bunker, a fire department: The BBC introduces its new online archive of paintings held in Britain’s public collections – 63,000 works so far with many more to come – by highlighting some of the treasures held in storage in unlikely places throughout the United Kingdom, from a dazzling Hogarth altarpiece in a Bristol office and former church (the massive thing is apparently too large to be moved) to a council archive of historical works stored in a Staffordshire nuclear fallout shelter.

Translating the artist statement: This has been all over both my RSS feeds and Facebook this week, but in case you missed it, Charlotte Young’s subtitled artist statement is both hilarious and deeply, disturbingly cringe-worthy. Be sure to check out the comment thread at AFC’s post for some smart clarification of the two-way debasement undermining the humour of this thing.

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