This Week: An artist collective skewers Trump… How Florence’s Uffizi is dramatically addressing its problems… Our fetishizing of “authenticity” doesn’t ring true… So what if Google is changing the way you think… An inspiring comeback after medical calamity by one of America’s best musicians.
- The Naked Trump: Five American cities woke up this week to statues of a naked Donald Trump placed in prominent parks. Titled “The Emperor Has No Balls”, the statues were a grotesque depiction of the Republican Party’s presidential standard bearer. They were the work of an artist collective calling themselves INDECLINE, and the artist who designed it has a background “designing monsters for horror movies and haunted houses.” Some critics suggested that the work was weak satire that indulged in body shaming. But the best response was a statement by the New York City Parks Department, which wrote: “NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.”
- Finally – Remaking The Iconic Uffizi Museum: Italy has been struggling with taking care of its cultural icons. Its museums and heritage are swamped with hordes of tourists, but Italy’s cultural management budgets are woefully inadequate. As anyone who has visited Florence’s Uffizi knows, the crowds have made it a trying experience. And the artwork is in danger of being damaged. The Uffizi’s new director – for the first time a non-Italian – has swept in with a new team of directors and is taking steps to reform the way the museum is being run. “As [new director Eike Schmidt] fights to manage the crowds, generate more revenue and improve the museum experience – including its chaotic ticketing system and long lines – will he continue to marshal popular support and prevail against a morass of bureaucratic restraints, vested interests and political intrigue?”
- Our Faux Obsession With Authenticity: Listen to any social media expert and they’ll tell you social media networks’ most important value is authenticity. We’ve made the word a fetish. But is authenticity really “authentic?” “I believe the Western cult of authenticity to be nothing more noble than the latest manifestation of capitalist materialism and abstraction of value from practical function: in the Western world where everyone’s got a flatscreen TV, buy yourself a genuine Kenyan-Zimbabwean wooden elephant and feel the kudos…”
- Google Is Changing The Way You Think. So What? Technology has always had an influence on how we think. New tools are like that. Take the invention of writing – the act of putting words on paper – for cultures that had always been aural. “Writing is also a tool of extended cognition. The difference is that we have had thousands of years to get used to it. The truth about the question of whether our reliance on modern electronic prostheses is better or worse for us is that it’s simply too early to tell.”
- Inspiring Story – How One Of America’s Best Musicians Got His Groove Back: Oboist Alex Klein had ascended to one of the top jobs in the orchestra world – principal oboist of the Chicago Symphony. Then calamity. He lost control of his fingers while he was performing. “The insidious thing was that when he was away from the oboe, his fingers worked just fine. It was only when he performed that his fingers got confused and stiffened. Practicing longer and harder only made the task-specific disorder worse.” He quit the orchestra and spent arduous years trying to treat the problem. He succeeded. Not only that, when his old job became available again, he auditioned. Read his inspiring story in the Chicago Tribune.