So here we are, the last day of the year, 2017. We are wrapping up our first six months. With our year-end Prescription of our reflections on 2017, here are some of the highlights:
ART, CULTURAL, & POLITICS
2017 saw a rise of populism of the worst kind. Fear, building walls, stopping immigration at the border, re-igniting the discussion on human rights, race relations, and cultural wars. Organizations world wide, along with groups and individuals spanning political leaders to independent artists felt implicated in the affair, except maybe the executive branch of the U.S. government who just pulled out of UNESCO. A series of art related events rose to the occasion.
© Nikos Economopoulos, Magnum Photos
Acclaimed French journalist Éric Fottorino delves into the history of human rights for Magnum Photos and the European Parliament to mark 30 years of the Sakharov Prize. Magnum photographers Jérôme Sessini, Bieke Depoorter, Enri Canaj, and Newsha Tavakolian have worked with four remarkable individuals, all staunch defenders of human rights, to shine a light on their work. A commission for European Parliament, these stories are gathered in a new book and exhibition which just launched and will continue through February 12, 2018.
Taschen’s meticulous reprint of Richard Avedon & James Baldwin’s searing monograph, Nothing Personal, explores the complexities and contradictions of the American experience. Deploying both image and text, Avedon and Baldwin examine the formation of identity, and the bonds that both underlie and undermine human connection.
Some believe art is created through a certain self reflection. Politicians rarely deal in this process. Governance, however, should at least look into the eyes of its citizens. This editorial treats the collective resignation of the 16 prominent members of the Committee on the Arts and the Humanities serving the U.S. White House to protest the less than presidential response to the Charlottesville incident which many understood to be condoning of the behavior of hate groups.
THE SECOND SEX
2017 was the year of breaking the silence as women emerged and united in solidarity through social media and live demonstrations. So much so that Time Magazine named the collective of silence breakers Persons of the Year. This movement helped launch a series of takedowns of high profile predators across industries worldwide, except maybe the executive branch of the U.S. government.
The latest calamity in the spotlight, or rather, the oldest calamity in the history of the world, now flagged and gaining media attention, compels us to revisit and revaluate our behavior with respect to over half the population of our civilization. Too often the perpetrators of these acts are forgiven or given a pass, even several, or worse, we continue to champion them, placing them in even greater positions of leadership and power they can further abuse. Women around the world unite to take a stand.
To this occasion we honored the struggle with entries such as this photo essay by Ornella Mazzola, a touching and personal series documenting days in the lives of the women in her family.
ARTPIL’s own 30 Under 30 Women Photographers, recently adopted from Photo Boite, is a conscientious effort to help equalize the representation of women in the arts and to give voice to a younger generation of talent. Tomorrow is the announcement for the 2018 group, stay tuned.
CLIMATE, BORDERS, & THE ENVIRONMENT
2017 was the year of some record breaking environmental occurrences, including Category 5 hurricanes in such quick succession we hadn’t seen in well over a hundred years. Climate awareness is taken to the next level world wide, except maybe the executive branch of the U.S. government who just pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the burden now fallen on city and state local efforts, led by Chicago.
2017 also saw some record highs in migratory movements, at times of an entire people. Tracing the human flow, governing entities along with NGOs around the world respond to the migration phenomenon, again, excepting the executive branch of the U.S. government who is hard at work blocking immigration, banning travel, building walls, and deporting the undocumented.
Postcommodity / Installation view
A Very Long Line is a four-channel video installation that employs the image and idea of the fence demarcating the U.S.-Mexico border between Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Sonora, by the artist collective Postcommodity previously on view at Esker Foundation.
Bertien van Manen
The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is mounting a series of exhibitions into 2018 that explore different aspects of the theme migration with artists including Rineke Dijkstra, Bertien van Manen, and Aslan Gaisumov among others.
Ai Weiwei / still from Human Flow
Captured over a stretch of 23 countries, the film follows a chain of urgent human stories across the globe as a witness to its subjects and their search for safety, shelter and justice. Directed by Ai Weiwei. Various screenings and opening dates continuing in 2018.
DOCfield Barcelona celebrated its fifth edition reflecting on the subject of human mobility and the journey in its many forms and includes in its program numerous exhibitions and venues earlier this past fall, including Espronceda Center for Art and Culture.
John Akomfrah / still, Purple
British artist and filmmaker, John Akomfrah creates his most ambitious piece to date: An immersive six-channel video installation addressing climate change, human communities and the wilderness. Through January 7, 2018 at Barbican Centre.
In the art world, 2017 brought in a record amount for the auction of da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi; opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi where the painting is now shown; and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) is inaugurated in Cape Town. Here are some highlights in the world of exhibitions:
Rirkrit Tiravanija / Ellsworth Kelly
MoMA / Museum of Modern Art and Fondation Louis Vuitton announce the first exhibition in France to present MoMA’s unparalleled collection featuring masterworks of Max Beckmann, Alexander Calder, Paul Cézanne, Marcel Duchamp, Walker Evans, Jasper Johns, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Gustav Klimt, Yayoi Kusama, René Magritte, and Pablo Picasso, among others. Ongoing through March 5, 2018.
Chosen from over 5000 entries of over 80,000 photographes from 125 countries, World Press Photo showcases the 2017 winners in a traveling exhibit with dates covering over 100 cities. Continuing engagements into 2018.
Paul Fusco / Magnum Photos
This landmark exhibition celebrated the 70th anniversary of Magnum Photos, founded by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour and George Rodger in May 1947. Tracing the ideas and ideals behind the founding and development of the cooperative, curator Clément Chéroux, formerly photography curator at the Centre Pompidou, now senior curator of photography at SFMoMA, explored the history of the second half of the 20th century through the lens of 75 masters, at ICP International Center of Photography.
In 1999, Claude Iverné first set off along the Darb al Arba’ïn (Forty Days Trail), the ancient caravan route linking Egypt and the sultanate of Darfur. It was there he discovered Sudan, a country steeped in contrasting influences. Ever since, Iverné has been working in the region, focusing on North Sudan in particular, wandering through the country to create a body of work. His photographs use an anthropological approach while simultaneously creating space for the viewer’s imagination. Exhibited this past fall at Aperture Foundation.
Irving Penn / Man lighting girl’s cigarette
2017 marked the centenary of the birth of Irving Penn (1917-2009), one of the truly great photographers of the 20th century. This exhibition, organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and The Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Grand Palais, in collaboration with The Irving Penn Foundation, is the first major retrospective of the American artist’s work in France since his death. Currently on view through January 29, 2018.
There it is. 2017 comes to an end. The day passes in a series of moments. Thomas Mann spoke of such passage of time like the passing of any instance but in which only we, as humans, posit significance. Apologies for all the heaviness.
Find someone you like and kiss them through the stroke of midnight (consensually) with lips wet with champagne bubbles. This is the closest we come to divinity, or at the very least, closest to feeling divine. As Keats mused before the Grecian Urn, this may well be all we know on earth, and all we need to know.
Happy New Year.