Required Reading

  • The new building for the Orange County Museum of Art has been completed — sort of. Carolina Miranda takes us through the new space in all its uneven craftsmanship and perplexing gallery placement for the LA Times:

On the macro level, the spaces acquit themselves well. But the current installation design feels a bit muddled. At the moment, the ground floor contains two adjacent shows: one for the permanent collection, the other for the temporary California Biennial. The paths into each one aren’t well delineated. I watched a number of people descend the ramp that leads to the galleries and then wonder where exactly to go next. The galleries also bleed one into another, making it unclear where one exhibition begins and another ends. It’s museum as endless scroll; the burden will be on exhibition designers to set some boundaries.

  • Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant announced plans to close its doors by the end of next year, sparking a debate about the sustainability of ultra-expensive restaurants that charge hundreds per meal — yet chronically underpay and overwork employees. Julia Moskin writes for the New York Times:

The decision comes as Noma and many other elite restaurants are facing scrutiny of their treatment of the workers, many of them paid poorly or not at all, who produce and serve these exquisite dishes. The style of fine dining that Noma helped create and promote around the globe — wildly innovative, labor-intensive and vastly expensive — may be undergoing a sustainability crisis.

Mr. Redzepi, who has long acknowledged that grueling hours are required to produce the restaurant’s cuisine, said that the math of compensating nearly 100 employees fairly, while maintaining high standards, at prices that the market will bear, is not workable.

  • Yesterday, our team reported on the viral video capturing a San Francisco gallery owner spraying water on an unhoused woman, echoing another horrible instance in 2019. For SF Chronicle, Nuala Bishari explains why these incidents are sadly commonplace and their roots in the daily, deep-seated violence against unhoused people in the city:

In a city that has failed to make meaningful progress in combating its visible homelessness crisis, these sorts of conflicts between city residents, business owners and unhoused individuals are inevitable. We are not housing people fast enough, nor are we preventing people on the margins from becoming homeless.

In the face of these failures, the narrative that homeless people’s personal failings led to their state of despair has made it easy to dehumanize them. They alone are responsible for their plight. Why treat them as people, many seem to think, when they are such an incredible nuisance?

  • For the Guardian, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett delves into the frequent coupling of women and cats throughout art history:

Cats are almost as old a subject for visual art as art is itself – there are felines painted in the Lascaux cave. In antiquity, they graced ancient Egyptian tombs and the mosaics of Pompeii. The old, old association between cats and fertility, and their status as mother-goddesses from the ancient Egyptian Bastet to the Greek Hecate, means that women and cats have been seen as interlinked for millennia. So it’s no surprise that they have been so often paired together as a subject by everyone from Morisot to Picasso, Matisse to Kirchner, Kahlo to Freud. They pop up in annunciations by Rubens, Barocci and Lotto, representing femininity, domesticity and sometimes the devil – or what the Jungian psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz calls the “feminine shadow”, the dark side to the Virgin Mary, the mother of God.

  • A group of Missouri Republican lawmakers is turning their energy towards controlling what women should be allowed to wear on the house floor. Rosalind Early reports for the Riverfront Times:

The proposed change came from Representative Ann Kelley (R-Lamar), who argued that women should “always maintain a formal and professional atmosphere” and suggested that all women legislators be required to wear a blazer on the house floor, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.

Lawmakers can change the House dress code every two years. Previously, the dress code stated that women could wear “dresses or skirts or slacks worn with a blazer or sweater and appropriate dress shoes or boots.” The rules require women to wear a second layer over a dress or top, and some lawmakers preferred to wear shawls or other items that weren’t jackets. The madness had to be stopped.

  • Harvard’s Kennedy School went back on a fellowship offer to the former head of Human Rights Watch, citing his prior criticism of Israel. Michael Massing does a deep dive into this case for the Nation:

The charge that Human Rights Watch is hostile to Israel is hardly new. In 2009, Robert Bernstein, the former head of Random House, who founded HRW and served as its chair from 1978 to 1998, sharply criticized it in a Times opinion piece. HRW’s original mission, he wrote, was “to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters,” but it had instead “been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.” The Middle East “is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records,” yet HRW “has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.” (Rejecting Bernstein’s claim, HRW observed that since 2000 it had produced more than 1,700 reports and other commentaries on the Middle East and North Africa, the vast majority of which were about countries other than Israel.)

  • As the city’s water crisis continues intensifying, Kayode Crown reports for Mississippi Free Press that the almost 20,000 students in the Jackson public school system started their new year with two days of online classes due to a lack of potable water:

In a town hall meeting that Jackson Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks organized at the Glory Empowerment Center (115 Maddox Road) on Monday, the federally appointed Jackson water system administrator, Ted Henifin, explained that the City’s limited knowledge of its own system contributes to the problem.

  • Anousha Sakoui writes for the LA Times that some UK-based production companies are starting to offer therapy sessions for film crew members, though US sets still lag behind:

Among the beneficiaries is Solas Mind, the British firm hired by See-Saw Films for the Sony released feature “The Son.” The company has developed a digital platform to allow crew members to schedule therapy sessions, and it has worked with studios such as Apple TV and NBC Universal. With a team of 30 counselors and psychotherapists, Solas Mind is looking to expand in the U.S. and Canada to meet demand from producers for its services.

“That sense of isolation where people are away from families, locked down in hotel rooms, all the nice stuff about the industry, the social side, had gone,” said the company’s founder, Sarah McCaffrey. “There was a massive demand for people just to be able to speak to somebody at the end of the working day.”

  • As part of Nature‘s series on diversity in the sciences, Ankur Paliwal reports on casteism in India systematically shutting out scientists from Dalit, Adivasi, and other marginalized communities and includes six powerful visualizations to illustrate this issue:

“Let’s face it, a PhD is somewhat of an elite pursuit” requiring financial support from families, says an IIT Delhi assistant professor from a privileged caste, speaking on condition of anonymity. Students from marginalized castes also often lack the recommendation networks and interview training to get recruited to PhD programmes, the assistant professor says.

Even when they start a PhD, many still struggle to find a good mentor willing to take them on. It is “quite common” for privileged-caste professors not to supervise students from marginalized communities, says Kirpa Ram, who belongs to the OBC grouping and is an assistant professor of environmental sciences at the Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for years,” Local 33 Co-President and Yale Physics graduate teacher Ridge Liu is quoted as saying in that same press release. ​“Grad workers need better pay, better healthcare, and real grievance procedures. Generations of grad workers have organized before us, and I’m really excited to finally win. I know our first contract will be one that future generations of grad workers will be able to build on. It’s great that the Yale administration did not engage in the same level of union-busting as they have in the past, and I hope they will bargain in good faith moving forward.”

  • Selin Oguz, Alejandra Dander, and Clayton Wadsworth compiled data from the Nuclear Energy Institute and the Canada Energy Regulator on North America’s biggest sources of electricity for Elements, and it’s an eye-opener:
  • And lastly, a touching speech from actor Ke Huy Quan at Tuesday’s Golden Globes on navigating film as a former “child star” and the power of second chances:

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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