Weekly Reading from 23.05.2019
European Elections. Today voters in the UK and the Netherlands will vote to elect MEPs to European Parliament. Voting in other EU nations will take place over the next three days. In preparation, German artist Wolfgang Tillmans and collaborators ran a campaign to encourage people to vote, as polls suggested that Eurosceptic, right-wing, and nationalist parties could make major gains. Tillmans has been involved in pro-European part-time activism since the 2016 Brexit referendum. Some regions in the UK have much to gain from electing pro-European MEPs, such as England’s South West, which has relied on the EU’s “structural funds” since 2014. However, the region paradoxically voted for Brexit in 2016, and this election’s MEP candidates are an eclectic mix of celebrities and conservatives.
– BBC | Artnet News | The Atlantic
China. Many believed that, by allowing to China to bend the rules in trade in order to grow out of poverty and into prosperity, the country would become more politically open. However, instead of“reforming and opening, [China] has been reforming and closing”. In light of this and recent tensions, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman writes, “it took a human wrecking ball like Trump to get China’s attention”. Chinese electronics giant Huawei is being destroyed by depravation: chip designer ARM has reportedly severed ties with the company. According to an internal memo, this move was because of the use of “US origin technology”, which makes it subject to a sweeping ban put in place by the Trump administration.
– The New York Times | Wired
Anti-Semitism in Germany. Anti-Semitism is a very real threat for Jews living all over the world, and a new article shows how it takes on many forms in Germany. Since World War II, Jewish people have encouraged their children and family not to reveal their identity out of fear that they will be singled out or bullied. On the left, many Germans treat anti-Semitism and the Holocaust as a thing of the past, making no mention of it or Jewish history. Far-right groups use it to fuel existing tensions and xenophobic beliefs, claiming that anti-Semitism has been imported from the Middle East. Additionally, the majority of legislators in the Bundestag voted in favour of labelling the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as an entity that uses anti-Semitic tactics. People are protesting: where is the line between anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of Israel?
– The New York Times | Al Jazeera
Queer art. Several of this year’s blockbuster exhibitions around the world have celebrated queer artists, such as David Wojnarowicz at the Whitney, Robert Mapplethorpe at the Guggenheim, Derek Jarman at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and Keith Haring at Tate Liverpool. However, Elephant’s Hannah Williams poses the question, “Are these genuine celebrations of queer and marginalised artists, or is there something more sinister at play?” On one hand, with the global turn towards conservatism, work by these artists “feels absolutely of the present moment”. On the other, Williams wonders if these exhibitions serve to make queer artists more “palatable to the art market”. Perhaps an example of such, the Artnet News buyer’s guide to the Whitney Biennialhighlights Elle Pérez for their queer photography.
– Elephant | Artnet News
Who was the so-called “welfare queen”? In the 1970s, Reagan latched on to a story about a “woman in Chicago”, who received more than $150,000 in welfare, using multiple identities. Many people assumed that this story was fictional—that Reagan had vilified the poor, and notably black women, leading the public to believe that welfare was being abused on a mass level. However, a new book by Josh Levin, The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth, details the life of Linda Taylor. Although Levin began his research presuming Taylor ‘s innocence, he discovered that she was, in fact, an uncommon criminal who committed crimes far worse than welfare fraud. Yet, in order to use Taylor as the political myth that she became, the police overlooked evidence linking her to kidnappings and murders.
– Josh Levin