Welcome to our weekly “best of” ArtsJournal. These aren’t necessarily the most important of the 156 stories we found this week, but they particularly caught our eye.
- Your #AllWhiteOscars Controversy Primer
The biggest flurry of stories this week was the reaction to last week’s Oscars nominations, where for the second week in a row, all the top nominees were white. The week began with talk of boycotts by African-American members of the Academy, led by comments from Spike Lee and a passionate video by Jada Pinkett Smith. But a boycott is complicated. Then there was the predictable pushback from the clueless, with actor Charlotte Rampling suggesting that the diversity protests were racist against whites. The head of the Academy of Motion Pictures wrote that she was “heartbroken and frustrated” over the nominations lack of diversity and vowed changes. There were numerous thoughtful arguments about the controversy, including in the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, by actor Idris Elba. And in record speed, the Academy announced Friday that it had voted to dramatically overhaul its membership to address the problem.
- How Our Ideas about Art And Artists Are Changing In The Digital World
This thoughtful article from the Atlantic suggests that the changing relationship between artists and audiences is reshaping what it means to be an artist: “A new paradigm is emerging, and has been since about the turn of the millennium, one that’s in the process of reshaping what artists are: how they work, train, trade, collaborate, think of themselves and are thought of—even what art is—just as the solitary-genius model did two centuries ago. The new paradigm may finally destroy the very notion of “art” as such—that sacred spiritual substance—which the older one created.
- Is Opera The New Old Thing?
In the last half of the 20th Century, new operas were a rarity, and those that did get produced didn’t get much traction. No more. Hundreds of new operas get produced each year, and in some ways, it’s one of our more vital art forms. It’s just that much of it might not look much like the traditional Thing. The Washington Post’s Anne Midgette: “Classical music, some say, is in decline. I say, over and over, that it isn’t. Classical music is just fine. It’s the institutions that perform it that are having trouble. … Of course, new work has an audience. It just may not be a traditional opera audience.” Speaking of things changing, The Economist reports on opera’s increasingly powerful new divas – the directors.
- How Visual Culture Is Changing In 2016 (According To The Data)
Getty Images is the world’s largest clearinghouse for images, with millions of images licensed to publications around the world. This year it crunched data about how the images are being used and searched for, and made a series of observations about what is driving today’s visual culture (including color picks!) “Creative In Focus 2016 sorts its emerging threads in visual culture into six categories, each with its own snappy, slightly cutesy title. I think of them as offering the outlines of the boxes our corporate image-overlords are sorting our tastes into.” So is it any surprise that museums are looking at what and how they change the audience experience to adapt to changing tastes?
- I Say Banana…
Language is a fascinating thing, and it shapes how we think. And how we interact. We have many languages that are so similar to one another that the speakers of one can be understood by speakers of the other. Then there are dialects that are so different – Italian dialects, for example – that speakers of other dialects of the same language can’t be understood. So what makes one thing a language and another a dialect? This fascinating Atlantic story explores the differences.