Required Reading

‣ For BBC, journalist Ismail Einashe speaks with artists who’ve been displaced amid the war in Sudan and their fight to maintain their practices:

Despite this warm welcome by Kenya’s art community, life is difficult for the Sudanese artists because of issues around asylum, lack of documents and their lack of substantial incomes.

“Some of these artists came with just $100 [£80] in their pockets,” Mr Shadad says.

Many of them are also deeply traumatised by their experience and losing their entire catalogue.

“Emotionally and spiritually, I am not OK,” artist Tibian Bahari tells me about not being able to return to Sudan where her father and sister still live.

Her aim is to keep Sudan – a “sacred and magical land” – alive through her work, which currently centres around depicting the country’s topography.

This determination comes down to her clothing.

“I always wear my jalabiya every morning,” she says, referring to the ankle-length, loose-fitting robe with wide long sleeves worn by both men and women in Sudan.

She feels a deep sense of “responsibility” to share “truthfully” her journey and map out the art of displacement and especially keep a space for Sudan’s women artists.

Many artists were part of the civilian protest movement that prompted the overthrow of Sudan’s long-time leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Afterwards, the army initially entered into a power-sharing arrangement with civilian groups, before seizing power and the decent into war.

‣ Writer and Hyperallergic contributor Lisa Korneichuk analyzes the artistic impacts of social media imagery during Russia’s war on Ukraine for ArtsLooker:

Levi started to draw what she saw on the news on top of what was happening to her. She called the series “Double Exposition,” as if her eyes were a film roll used twice. On top of the mountain silhouette, she depicts an image of the bombed building in Kyiv. An artist feeding a herd of swans shares the frame with the convoy of Russian tanks going to Ukraine. Essentially, “Double Exposition” is a diary of one artist, but in many ways, it is the diary of the entire nation under attack.

As Levi’s case has shown, media became a tool for traumatization, which, in turn, affected art. Social media realism arose from the impossibility of artistic symbolization — images were constructed by media before the artists. Walter Benjamin from Belgrade wrote: “Being a modern artist means being new, unrepeatable, different from the rest. And copying means working directly contrary to this. […] copying really does represent an extremely uninventive procedure.” Within the modernist art logic, copying is a method associated with kitsch. Within the postmodernist art logic, copying is a gesture of transgression that in itself contains a provocation.

‣ A public sculpture in Sacramento, California, that was meant to provide visitors with a sense of safety may actually be killing local birds. James Taylor reports for CBS:

“Because it is public art, we are not allowed to touch it, make adjustments to it in any way,” Gonzalez said. “We do need the artist to make those changes.”

Gonzalez added that SacRt is working on a contract to bring Best back to the city to make the adjustments.

The artist intended to build a temple-like sculpture that evokes the feelings of a sacred and safe place. Now, it’s becoming a tomb for wayward wildlife.

“It’s killing animals, so something should be done,” Fiala said. “If it doesn’t get fixed, then we’re just going to have more and more birds get down there.”

‣ 21 species have been declared extinct this year in the United States. Maanvi Singh reports for the Guardian:

The ōʻō was one of 21 species that the US Fish and Wildlife Service removed from the endangered species list in 2023 because they had vanished from the wild. Gone is the little Mariana fruit bat – also known as the Guam flying fox – and the bridled white-eye, which was once one of the most common birds on that island. So too, are the Scioto madtom, a diminutive, whiskered catfish that lived in Ohio, and the Bachman’s warbler, which summered in the US south and wintered in Cuba. Eight freshwater mussels in the south-east are officially extinct, as are eight Hawaiian birds.

‣ Research is demonstrating that academics are not fleeing red states, though I’m sure the lack of a robust job market is part of the reason. Ryan Quinn reports for Inside Higher Education:

The Florida, Texas, Georgia and North Carolina statewide university systems didn’t provide Inside Higher Ed much data on their faculty retention, or any survey data for why faculty members may be leaving. 

A University of Florida spokeswoman wrote in an email that UF’s faculty turnover rate is still below the 10.57 percent national average. (The source she cited, CUPA-HR, said on its website that in 2022–23, overall turnover for full-time faculty was 7 percent for those on the tenure track and 11 percent for non–tenure track.) And in posts on X criticizing theNew York Times story, UF president Ben Sasse—a former Republican U.S. senator—wrote, “Over the last seven years, with the exception of one year during COVID, UF has annually hired far more faculty than have left.” 

‣ Can’t resist sharing this factoid about the ancient Greeks and their doughy napkins that they later fed to dogs:

This dough was called apomagdalia, which refers to the doughy bread inside the crusts, also known as “the crumb.” Eventually, the practice evolved, and diners used sliced pieces of bread to clean their hands.

‣ A good description of how elite institutions corrupt those who go through them:

‣ This is the painting commentary I crave:

‣ Academic and writer Steven Thrasher teases out a nuanced explanation of why liberals, contrary to popular belief, are also behind the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay:

‣ The rogue wave in California has given us some interesting footage of the impact on the coastline. Here is a report from KTLA 5 in Los Angeles:

‣ I’m so here for “Surrey house husband core” and whatever comes of it:

‣ (Lakshmi) A lovely visual reminder of the artistry that birds bring to our skies. Drone art could never:

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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