Friday, April 30, 2010

No Surprises! The New York Times Pans PHANTOM SIGHTINGS

updated below! original posting 4/13/10

The New York Times
' Ken Johnson weighs in with a less-than-loving pan of the Phantom Sightings show. You think you want a taste? You don't. Here's some anyway from Johnson's acidic conclusion: "A more astutely focused, judiciously selected exhibition might lead to different conclusions, but this one will not alter the impression that last rites for this type of show are in order." Zoiks! More from Johnson's screed is here.

But as they say in London, no worries. The NYTimes did the same favor for Luis Valdez's Zoot Suit back in the day and Valdez is still getting good work!

Hit the image to your right for the PHANTOM SIGHTINGS review; then tap the image below for a trip down memory lane and Richard Eder's snarky Zoot Suit review from 1979. More better? Daniel Hernandez's post on the LA Phantom Sightings show.

Chon Noriega weighs in with a worthy riposte to the NYTimes review in his monthly CSRC newsletter hot out of Westwood and UCLA:

The art world no longer excludes Chicanos? If only we had spoken to New York Times reviewer Ken Johnson five years ago, we could have avoided the painstaking research that informs Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement. The exhibition, which I co-curated with Rita Gonzalez and Howard Fox, opened last month at New York City’s El Museo del Barrio. It is the first exhibition to focus on contemporary artists influenced by the Chicano civil rights movement. These artists do not engage in identity politics. In fact, several of them are not even Chicano. But Mr. Johnson’s review on April 10 ignores all that and instead lauds the 2010 Whitney Biennial as an example of how the art world has assimilated “artists of many different backgrounds.” But wait! The Biennial does not include any Latino artists. And, ironically, the Biennial is exactly the kind of “identity-based group show” that he rails against. In fact, it is the exemplary case. Johnson’s review is confused and mean-spirited, revealing a bias against exhibitions that engage race and ethnicity. In New York City, the Mexican-descent population is 300,000. Nationwide it is 30 million. According to Johnson, this population has been “assimilated” into museum exhibition and modern art history. Really? He concludes that any museum or foundation that supports another view is sustaining an unnecessary “evil” that should be given its “last rites” (that is, killed). What Johnson calls an “evil” we call a phantom that remains exiled from mainstream institutions. That phantom represents 10 percent of our nation. This review, like recent events, suggests an underlying fear that, in the words of Eric Cartman, “There are too many minorities.”

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