Pop Art, Political Art & Too Much of One or the Other
International Pop at the Walker Art Center
Connections: The founder of the company I work for is on the board of the Walker, and the company has worked with the Walker closely this year, but none of it had anything to do with the art inside the museum and the Walker doesn’t care about my lil opinion anyway.
I’m not sure what they’re teaching in fiction classes these days, and I’ve stopped reading most writing about writing anyway. In my class (this newsletter), if you want to go about exploring nuance of a subject in a long-form work, you can go about it two ways: the single-subject examination or the ensemble cast. The former often dives too deep into the ego and bores me, and for the past eight or so years I’ve greatly preferred the delightful snowball of the ensemble cast. Touch a little bit on a varied personalities, and you get a cultural whole, a deeper meaning.
Ensemble cast curation allows for simultaneous diversity and marketability — I doubt the Walker would have gotten behind an entire feature exhibition of South American political art of the 1960s. But, when you pull it under the Warhol umbrella, hey! I can see the tip of the iceberg of revolutions and stories I want to know more of, even if the presented work was only influenced by pop art. As Will pointed out, the whole point of ’60s pop art was to be apolitical, so even though I loved the last gallery with all the early feminist artwork, it’s not pop art… really.
Maybe the underlying message was that you can only take an aesthetically apolitical idea so far before it becomes political, or maybe the underlying message was that pop art in and of itself gets tired and sad after about two galleries (read: all of Dismaland, who took political art and turned it pop, and even though that Ariel sculpture looks pretty badass on the internet).
This exhibit is closed now, as is the way of things.
“Raising the Skate” by Speedy Ortiz
Connections: I wish there were more.
When they write about this decade in music, they will write about the influx of 90s-inspired woman-fronted rock bands, the children of our riot grrls, grown up and messy and polished in the right places, worthy of as many mix cds and playlists as the day is long. It’s like the “Bad Blood” video out there, young women taking on their predecessors and managing to be the only nostalgia acts this summer that don’t ruin everything.
In the ensemble cast of this year’s crop, Chastity Belt are the chill girls with the aloof yet poignant plotline, du Blondeis the cool muse at the back of the club with Bully as the little sister, tagging along and screaming from the alley.Leggy piss on some dick surfer’s car, Waxahatchee journal it all at the back of the class, Wolf Alice do their best Veruca Salt, Tacocat (not to be confused with the excellent Minneapolis taco delivery service)offers the comic relief, and Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz is the one you’re rooting for the most.
Try getting this chorus out of your head, beginning in a power punch of a fuck you and ending with drawn out “aaaaooooos” reminiscent of “Cannonball.”
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
If we’re going to have to pick between white dude writers who tell sweeping stories about American life, I’m going to pick Chabon hands down every time over Franzen. Ensemble cast? Yes. Writing about people of color and trying a little too hard but still pulling it off? Ok. Section III left me choking on my tongue in awe at the prose. Chabon’s a storyteller’s storyteller. I’m ok with it. For a good time, read Telegraph Avenue.
Next time I promise this newsletter will have more local art. Do you think I should see something? Send it my way by replying or using the Tweeter @fightwithknives)
September 3, 2015 / Deborah Carver