more of foucault of late

June 16, 2021 repost, due to internal error, and fixed some probs.

I don’t think Foucault deserves all the ‘credit’ for the failure of ‘confessional politics’ the authors claim in the article below; though, he shares in it to a degree, perhaps. Mostly as is typical of foucault interpreters who rely overly much on only one aspect of his work – in this case – through his ‘care of the self’ analyses in his late work. There was, though not addressed by Dean and Zamora, a critical element to his views of confession and care of the self. Not considered here, as another example, is how care of the self squares or doesn’t, with another of his main concerns – the death of the subject. OR, how that  interest pares or doesn’t with his concern for the systems and processes of subjectivication.  Or, with his commitment to ‘systems of thought’, [the title for he requested for his position when enrolled at the College de France], that include such supra-self issues like biopolitics, clearly still misunderstoond today as more than a simplistic account of capital’s control of  genomes. With foucault, it is dangerous to cleave to a single area of his analysis, with the result that there has now been decades of often insufficient and misleading claims about his work.

That said, i agree wholeheartedly with the author’s rejection of confessional ID politics as framed by their citation of Cedric Johnson:

“White guilt and black outrage,” as Cedric Johnson, professor of [Political Science and] African American studies, has recently pointed out, “have limited political currency, and neither has ever been a sustainable basis for building the kind of popular and legislative majorities needed to actually contest entrenched power in any meaningful way.”

In fact, he added, this “militant expression of racial liberalism” will “continue to defer the kind of public goods that might actually help” all those who are “routinely surveilled, harassed, arrested, convicted, incarcerated and condemned as failures”

a key term here being, “racial liberalism”; for liberalism is still liberalism, even when it’s anti-racist in intent. as Johnson, in an article in the Jacobin criticizing Ta-Nesisi Coates, argues:

“… scores of others would have found themselves quite at odds with Coates’s liberal antiracist viewpoint that working-class-centered, anticapitalist political projects are patently inadequate for addressing the concerns of black voters.

The claim that social democracy and socialism are always and everywhere at odds with racial progress is simply false. It is not supported by the actual history of progressive struggles and the substantive ways they transformed black life.

Ultimately, Coates’s views about class and race — and this nation’s complex and tortured historical development — are well-meaning and at times poetic, but wrongheaded. The reparations argument is rooted in black nationalist politics, which traditionally elides class and neglects the way that race-first politics are often the means for advancing discrete, bourgeois class interests.”

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/02/ta-nehisi-coates-case-for-reparations-bernie-sanders-racism/

To underscore a position i’ve suggested several time below, ID politics is profoundly joined with liberalism in many ways, but a central one is the ways in which it vehemently adheres to individualistic hegemony, is even libertarian in this regard, and anti-social, and anti universalistic.

why, then,  do MF interpreters go wrong?

it’s simple: they have never understood his reading of nietzsche and rousell in combo.

which translates as: ‘power’ is NOT a top down force; it’s a shared force.

no foucault interpreter has understand the significance of that aspect of F’s systems thought.

Today, the self is the battlefield of politics. Blame Michel Foucault

Mitchell Dean and Daniel Zamora

The rise of confessional politics has its origins in the left’s post-60s turn away from structures and towards the individual

<img src=”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/70a8bc6ecae995ffe38eb7a45dc7c6d5fa38169d/0_22_4802_2883/master/4802.jpg?width=445&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=19f9571e28e17fa07a5f721bd9522e71&quot; alt=”US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Democratic lawmakers observe a moment of silence for George Floyd

‘Confession today is performed in the street, in art galleries, in workplaces and on social media.’ Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPATue 15 Jun 2021 06.23 EDT

Guardian/US Tue 15 Jun 2021 07.26 EDT

  •  

“We are perhaps living at the end of politics,” Michel Foucault wrote in the late 1970s. With the exhaustion of utopias and radical alternatives to capitalism, what was now at stake, he memorably wrote, was to develop “new types, new kinds of relations to ourselves”. Political advancement is not delivered through “parties, trade unions, bureaucracy and politics any more”, he wrote. Instead, politics has become “an individual, moral concern”.

In this new definition of politics – in which “everything is political” and “the personal is political” – the self was thought to have become the battlefield of contemporary politics. At that time, many intellectuals, including Foucault, announced the “end of the age of revolution”, opening an era where transforming oneself became the most popular conception of social change. With the collapse of collective “grand narratives”, they argued, we had now to look inwards. Beginning in the late 60s, political change would be reframed as a struggle against oneself, against our “inner enemy”. One had to confront the “fascist within”.

This shift made the self just another market to conquer, with self-help coaches, new age gurus, energy healers, food counsellors, alternative therapists and lifestyle brands all trying to profit off of this turn inwards. Politics, as Christopher Lasch would write, would “degenerate into a struggle not for social change but for self-realization”. But, contrary to what Lasch thought, the rising “therapeutic sensibility” he observed didn’t become an “anti-religion”, based on “rational explanation” and “scientific methods of healing”, but would deploy its own confessional techniques, endlessly re-presenting social questions as personal ones.

Much like with Christianity’s focus on the soul, this new politics of the self produced a confessional culture, in which the battles and struggles playing out within, had to be discussed, confessed and shared with those outside. “Consciousness raising”, “self-examination” or “self-empowerment” became key techniques. This trend was accelerated by self-help literature and consultants, who helped bring confessional culture come to the fore in our contemporary political practice.

Today, this shift has been notably visible in the confessional tone of many forms of contemporary anti-racism. Discussing racism in America in one of her training courses on “white fragility”, the diversity consultant Robin DiAngelo avowed to her audience that she had been herself “colluding” with it “every moment of [her] life”.

“I try, as hard as I can, to counter it,” she added, “but we can never be free of it.”

In a similar vein, the bestselling anti-racist educator Ibram X Kendi argued that “being an anti-racist” is “always ongoing”; it “requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination”. Anti-racism becomes, then, a practice of endless work on the self, made of constant self-examination whether on the streets or the training spaces of corporations and universities.

A visual representation of what this kind of politics looks like was captured in the viral photo of senior Democratic leaders, including Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, kneeling on the floor in Ghanaian kente silk stoles after the police murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent passing of the Justice in Policing bill. Similar ceremonies have been undertaken by professional sports teams, celebrities or wealthy chief executives such as Jamie Dimon taking a knee in front of his Chase bank vault.

Similarly, it is reflected in the pledges against racism posted by several Hollywood stars on social media. In an openly confessional tone they filmed themselves “taking responsibility” for “every unchecked moment”, every “stereotype”, every time they “remain silent” or “turn a blind eye”. Rather than simply looking inward, however, this confessional politics is played out in public. Unlike either the private confessional booth or the sanctity of the ballot box, confession today is performed in the street, in art galleries, in workplaces and on social media.

Despite what Foucault had hoped for, we have not seen a retreat from confession but an intensification and multiplication of it in the public domain. Today’s secular confessionals increasingly resemble the loud and public forms of penitence of the early Christian communities where the penitents had to “publish themselves” (publicatio sui, as the church father Tertullian put it) through rituals of humiliation to choose the path to purity.

This new kind of confessional politics takes today shape through posts and challenges on social media, viral hashtags made by influencers, companies such as Coca-Cola or Disney training their staff to “be less white” and “work through feelings of guilt, shame, and defensiveness” or CIA running ads of operatives speaking out against “internalized patriarchy”.

This phenomenon is reinforced by corporations and self-help industries that march ever deeper into our psyches

It is a confession taken not under the priestly “vow of silence” but in the full gaze of publicity. It inaugurates a “lifelong work”, as DiAngelo put it, fighting the evil within and joining with other penitents. It is a world in which the abandonment of the struggle against social and economic exploitation shifted politics towards a contest between competing confessional groups each publicly affirming the righteousness of their own true path to salvation.

This political phenomenon is echoed and reinforced by corporations and self-help industries that march ever deeper into our psyches, encouraging us to practise “mindfulness techniques” at work, for example. It’s mirrored in everything from the management guru Peter Drucker’s call to “manage oneself” to the best sellers of the billion dollars industry of personal development or the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson’s “rules for life”.

Despite the ever-growing presence of this politics, its shortcomings are growing clear. “White guilt and black outrage,” as Cedric Johnson, professor of African American studies, has recently pointed out, “have limited political currency, and neither has ever been a sustainable basis for building the kind of popular and legislative majorities needed to actually contest entrenched power in any meaningful way.”

In fact, he added, this “militant expression of racial liberalism” will “continue to defer the kind of public goods that might actually help” all those who are “routinely surveilled, harassed, arrested, convicted, incarcerated and condemned as failures”. With material stakes of politics growing ever more urgent many in the liberal center would much prefer us to busy ourselves with loud rituals announcing our inner battles. In this way, they reveal the failure of a politics based on the thesis, advanced by Foucault 40 years ago, that struggles around the self are becoming more and more important in our world relative to those of exploitation and inequality.

  • Mitchell Dean and Daniel Zamora are the authors of The Last Man Takes LSD: Foucault and the End of Revolution
more of foucault of late

AI: Hey Alexa! – liberalism = social media malaise = “i can’t abandon facebook because it connects me to… = no chance of real change = locked in to liberalism’s ‘self-destruct’ laziness = ‘power’ in the foucauldian sense = the few control the outcome for everyone else

wow! the brilliance of the paradoxical contradictions here are truly epic!

What should people know about how AI products are made?
We aren’t used to thinking about these systems in terms of the environmental costs. But saying, “Hey, Alexa, order me some toilet rolls,” invokes into being this chain of extraction, which goes all around the planet… We’ve got a long way to go before this is green technology. Also, systems might seem automated but when we pull away the curtain we see large amounts of low paid labour, everything from crowd work categorising data to the never-ending toil of shuffling Amazon boxes. AI is neither artificial nor intelligent. It is made from natural resources and it is people who are performing the tasks to make the systems appear autonomous.

Problems of bias have been well documented in AI technology. Can more data solve that?
Bias is too narrow a term for the sorts of problems we’re talking about. Time and again, we see these systems producing errors – women offered less credit by credit-worthiness algorithms, black faces mislabelled – and the response has been: “We just need more data.” But I’ve tried to look at these deeper logics of classification and you start to see forms of discrimination, not just when systems are applied, but in how they are built and trained to see the world. Training datasets used for machine learning software thatcasually categorise people into just one of two genders; that label people according to their skin colour into one of five racial categories, and which attempt, based on how people look, to assign moral or ethical character. The idea that you can make these determinations based on appearance has a dark past and unfortunately the politics of classification has become baked into the substrates of AI.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/jun/06/microsofts-kate-crawford-ai-is-neither-artificial-nor-intelligent

as with ‘climate change’ – the false liberal scenario is that ‘technology’ will safe us. but, ‘technology’ is massively a cause of human, and non-human, natural world, demise.

capitalism and ‘save the planet’ are fundamentally, opposed. it’s not possible to have both. period.

therefore: the planet, and humans, are doomed. period.

so, facebook away, world!

while you still have time.

add more confessional crap that no one cares about except alexa to the pile of detritus like plastic at the bottom of the mariana trench and the top of everest! to, in fact, the sperm and ovum banks. to our very pores – we sweat plastic…

oh… and how the image/word worlds are absolutely complicit in producing our sweaty plastic labor…

You single out ImageNet, a large, publicly available training dataset for object recognition…
Consisting of around 14m images in more than 20,000 categories, ImageNet is one of the most significant training datasets in the history of machine learning. It is used to test the efficiency of object recognition algorithms. It was launched in 2009 by a set of Stanford researchers who scraped enormous amounts of images from the web and had crowd workers label them according to the nouns from WordNet, a lexical database that was created in the 1980s.

Beginning in 2017, I did a project with artist Trevor Paglen to look at how people were being labelled. We found horrifying classificatory terms that were misogynist, racist, ableist, and judgmental in the extreme. Pictures of people were being matched to words like kleptomaniac, alcoholic, bad person, closet queen, call girl, slut, drug addict and far more I cannot say here. ImageNet has now removed many of the obviously problematic people categories – certainly an improvement – however, the problem persists because these training sets still circulate on torrent sites [where files are shared between peers].

And we could only study ImageNet because it is public. There are huge training datasets held by tech companies that are completely secret. They have pillaged images we have uploaded to photo-sharing services and social media platforms and turned them into private systems.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/jun/06/microsofts-kate-crawford-ai-is-neither-artificial-nor-intelligent

the political response should be: shut down ALL social media, now.

but that’s not happening, is it?

What do you mean when you say we need to focus less on the ethics of AI and more on power?
Ethics are necessary, but not sufficient. More helpful are questions such as, who benefits and who is harmed by this AI system? And does it put power in the hands of the already powerful? What we see time and again, from facial recognition to tracking and surveillance in workplaces, is these systems are empowering already powerful institutions – corporations, militaries and police.

so, even this critic is hopelessly, hopeful…

What’s needed to make things better?
Much stronger regulatory regimes and greater rigour and responsibility around how training datasets are constructed. We also need different voices in these debates – including people who are seeing and living with the downsides of these systems. And we need a renewed politics of refusal that challenges the narrative that just because a technology can be built it should be deployed.

And giving me as much optimism as the progress on regulation is the work of activists agitating for change.

???!!!

that can’t happen, will not happen, because ‘facebook addicts’ will not become anti-liberal = anti-themselves.

AI: Hey Alexa! – liberalism = social media malaise = “i can’t abandon facebook because it connects me to… = no chance of real change = locked in to liberalism’s ‘self-destruct’ laziness = ‘power’ in the foucauldian sense = the few control the outcome for everyone else

alex hay: kindred spirit: PROOF that another AHT discourse/perspective was possible: proof that it was intentionally/voluntarily suppressed

i’ve followed Hay’s work since i first encountered him indirectly, like all things that seem to have obsessed me over the past few decades: in Merce Cunningham’s ‘archive’, which, at the time of my first encounter of this kind, was then still in the west village. in those days, David Vaughan held court as gatekeeper to all things archival, before it was offloaded to the NY Library. He, Vaughan, did a superlative job, and, changed the course of my life, i have to say, by bringing my attention to things i’d not know to ask about, since i was at that stage, quite naive and bumbling about trying to solve a technical problem, historically speaking, about video and the like, when Vaughan handed me a tape of Variations V… in the subsequent periods of research, alex hay and his then wife deborah came up often. hay remains, despite his current temporary, no doubt, art market rehabilitation, a lost gem, even a keystone figure, that the market wishes to downplay because his work suggest other possible historical narratives they fear would cut into their market share.

which Hay has clearly understood and taken an ethical/political stance against. while of course, negotiating it. he has a hotel to support. but on HIS terms only. roberta’s article is of it’s era, and informative. but it’s not critical or to the point of the nature of this work: stringently anti-capital, anti-market, anti-fame, anti-celebrity, and therefore, anti-artworld money-making machine, while featuring the ‘banal tools’ of the trade… during his NY period. Thus, that world could not, would not, take it on. and thus, his bisbee period work, emerges again as total contrast to NYC authorial and pretentious intelligentsia… labor of the secretarial that actually make the art market run, is what Hay’s work signifies, and dignifies, and gives it’s right due – the underclass, the working class… who make the rich, rich. Hay’s life then, is, in his own terms and actions, one long performance of protest. He would reject, rightly, the term, hero, yet, he is one.

There’s an article by Peter Schjeldahl from 1971 in which he says you once spent two years making yourself a pair of boots. What were the circumstances of that?

I used to always buy boots from L.L. Bean. You know L.L. Bean? They used to make really beautiful hand-sewn boots. Then they stopped, so I decided, “Well, I’ll make my own boots.” So I carefully measured my foot in a very sort of complicated way to get the contour. And I built this tool that was basically a depth gauge out of wood so I could map out my foot. It took a hell of a long time.

These works perfectly illustrate Hay’s insistence that his art arises from circumstances of an unusually mundane sort. The most recent paintings in the show are abstractions of wavy patterns based on close-ups of the fur of his cats, Bella, Marigold, Lily and Tito… Hay’s works of the ’60s are emblematic of the decade’s fact-oriented art movements: Pop Art, Minimal art, Photo Realism and Conceptualism, without plugging neatly into any of them. For one thing, his work is almost completely handmade, perhaps not surprising for an artist who is adept at carpentry and plumbing. That is part of its mystique. It is also deeply involved with creative problem-solving — mainly, how to make small things convincingly large through a meticulous process of magnification that has ritualistic, even devotional aspects… A question that crops up frequently in this wonder-filled show is “How was this thing made?” The answers can range widely. Roberta Smith, NYT, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/28/arts/design/alex-hay-peter-freeman-review.html

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/alex-hay-artist-interview-peter-freeman-1956451


the funny things is, that in 1971, i was buying the wearing the exact same boots from L. L. Beans… they also made this great hand-sewn canvass sneaker-like shoes that i wore for a decade.
and now i live 20 minutes from L.L. Beans…

A Maverick Who Captivated the ’70s New York Scene, Alex Hay Seemed Bound to Become a Famous Artist. Then He Just Walked Away. Why?

In 1971, Hay had a well-received career survey in New York. Then he disappeared into the desert and didn’t show again for 32 years.

Pac Pobric, April 6, 2021

Alex Hay, on the right, with Robert Rauschenberg. The two were close friends and collaborators throughout the 1960s. Richard Avdeon, Robert Rauschenberg and Alex Hay, artists, New York, January 19, 1965. © The Richard Avedon Foundation.
Alex Hay, on the right, with Robert Rauschenberg. The two were close friends and collaborators throughout the 1960s. Richard Avdeon, Robert Rauschenberg and Alex Hay, artists, New York, January 19, 1965. © The Richard Avedon Foundation.

Alex Hay was a relatively little-known artist when he posed with his close friend and artistic collaborator Robert Rauschenberg for the above photo by Richard Avedon in January 1965.

Hay had moved to New York six years earlier, after finishing art school. But those who were aware of him mostly associated him with the performances he’d done as a member of the Judson Church circle. He’d only shown art in a single group show at Leo Castelli alongside Christo and Richard Artschwager.

Yet by 1971, after a series of solo shows at the Kornblee Gallery, Hay had built enough of a reputation that the New York Cultural Center organized a 50-work survey that drew the attention of critic Peter Schjeldahl, who called him a “gentle maverick” in his New York Times review.

“Hay is an odd case,” Schjeldahl wrote. His outsize sculptures of brown paper bags; his paintings of a cigar-box label and a sheet of legal paper; and the documents of his many performances with Rauschenberg and others made it practically impossible to categorize him. Pop art? Minimalism? Neo-Dada? Was Hay being coyly ironic? Or was he sincerely interested in paper airplanes and breakfast settings?

Hay seemed to be on the verge of something, cracking open a fissure between the dominant styles of the day with a strange and idiosyncratic approach. Yet just as critical momentum seemed to be gathering around him, Hay decided he’d had enough of the New York art world. By the early 1970s, he was living permanently in a small town called Bisbee, Arizona, near the Mexican border, where he quietly worked to renovate and repair a hotel into his private living space, fixing the roof and the plumbing and rewiring electrical circuits. He didn’t have another solo show in New York for 32 years.

Hay is now the subject of a career retrospective at Peter Freeman gallery (“Past Work and Cats, 1963–2020,” through May 29). It’s his sixth show with the dealer since 2003, when he began showing art again. On the occasion of the exhibition, we spoke with Hay about his early days with Rauschenberg, his new paintings of his cats, and why circumstances always determine everything.

<img srcset="https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Hay_2021_installation-34_H-1024×683.jpg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Hay_2021_installation-34_H-300×200.jpg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Hay_2021_installation-34_H-50×33.jpg 50w" width="1024" height="683" src="https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Hay_2021_installation-34_H-1024×683.jpg&quot; alt="Alex Hay's retrospective at Peter Freeman includes the works he's best known for, including three <em>Paper Bag

Alex Hay’s retrospective at Peter Freeman includes the works he’s best known for, including three Paper Bag sculptures from 1968; his painting of a diner check (1966); a picture of a sheet of legal paper (1965); and a painting of a toaster (1968/2018). Note the tree emblem on the bag sculpture, which was what first drew the artist’s attention when he saw it in a shop. Photo courtesy the artist and Peter Freeman, Inc., New York. Photograph by Nicholas Knight Studio.

Why did you end up leaving New York permanently? Was it just not interesting anymore? Did you want to get away from art?

Well, I never had the idea that I was giving up art. I just saw what happens to an artist in New York. It changes you, being an artist and having some success. I saw it with all my friends.

But I loved New York. I got totally immersed in the art world. With Rauschenberg, he just liked to hang out around the kitchen table, which was a beautiful thing. So all of us would go down to Rauschenberg’s loft and it was a great time. But Bob never went to bars, he just sat around his table drinking Jack Daniel’s. He would basically drink a fifth of Jack Daniel’s every day. We all had the same doctor on Park Avenue and you’d just give him artwork and whatever you needed in terms of medical attention, he’d do for you. He didn’t understand why Rauschenberg didn’t have cirrhosis of the liver. And at that time, I got heavily involved in performance. Do you want that story?

I am interested in anything you want to tell me, Alex.

Okay. My wife at the time, Deborah Hay, who became a very well known choreographer and dancer, was taking classes with Merce Cunningham. He loved to have people come and watch his classes. So I did that. And at one point Bob and Judith Dunn—Judith was his principal dancer, and Bob was a composer and played piano—did a workshop using Cunningham’s theories, and it was such a turn on. After the workshop, we all went down to Judson Church and started doing performance work. I probably never would have done performance had it not been for that.

That’s where I met Rauschenberg because his partner, Steve Paxton, was at the workshop, and Rauschenberg came to see it. It was really one of those events in New York, where everyone who’s interested in new things that are happening would come to Judson to see our performances.

<img srcset="https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/GettyImages-543158681.jpg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/GettyImages-543158681-300×200.jpg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/GettyImages-543158681-50×33.jpg 50w" width="1024" height="683" src="https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/GettyImages-543158681-1024×683.jpg&quot; alt="Alex Hay, on the left, with Steve Paxton in Robert Rauschenberg's <i>Map Room II

Alex Hay, on the left, with Steve Paxton in Robert Rauschenberg’s Map Room II. The performance took place in 1965 as part of the Expanded Cinema Festival, which also included pieces by Claes Oldenburg and Robert Whitman. Photo by Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images.

A critic once wrote that your visual artworks—giant sculptures of paper bags, cargo labels, pictures of receipts—often recreate things that look as if they’re about to be blown away. Do you see any connection between that kind of movement and performance?

I think that’s just what the critic saw. When I moved to New York, I wanted to do things that I had a very personal interest in, and I did not want to be overly influenced by other artists. With the bags, there was a guy who invented stand-up paper bags, and the bags his company made had a beautiful, printed little oak tree. And I admired that, this beautiful little emblem. It was very appealing to me. It didn’t have anything to do with things that can be blown away, although I can understand why he’s saying that.

That emblem, it seems like something you could easily miss. 

Well, you know, if you want to make it so that it has a prominence, you made it large. That’s the reason for it. I didn’t want to make a small paper bag. I wanted to make a big paper bag.

<img srcset="https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/PF5797_Hay_Cargo-Tag_1966_side_H-694×1024.jpg 694w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/PF5797_Hay_Cargo-Tag_1966_side_H-203×300.jpg 203w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/PF5797_Hay_Cargo-Tag_1966_side_H-34×50.jpg 34w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/PF5797_Hay_Cargo-Tag_1966_side_H-1302×1920.jpg 1302w" width="694" height="1024" src="https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/PF5797_Hay_Cargo-Tag_1966_side_H-694×1024.jpg&quot; alt="In his paintings and sculptures, Alex Hay often reimagines paper products: receipts, sheets of legal paper, and cigar-box labels. The above work, <em>Cargo Tag

In his paintings and sculptures, Alex Hay often reimagines paper products: receipts, sheets of legal paper, and cigar-box labels. The above work, Cargo Tag, was made in 1966. Photo courtesy the artist and Peter Freeman, Inc., New York. Photograph by Nicholas Knight Studio.

The press release for your Peter Freeman retrospective mentions that after you moved to Bisbee, Arizona, you developed an interest in esoteric subjects. Can you tell me a little about those? Did any of them make it into your work?

You know, it’s hard to answer a question like that because—well, for one thing, that was the time that Carlos Castaneda wrote his Don Juan books. Everyone was reading them. I was in Bisbee when they first came out. And at that time, I think everyone who was doing what I was doing—driving around the country—was interested in the Don Juan books. 

What would you say you were looking for in those books?

I had been coming out west to visit the Grinsteins [collectors Elyse and Stanley] in California every summer. I bought this old service truck and that’s what I would do, I’d drive around. And the freedom Carlos Castaneda was talking about in his books, I found that very, very intriguing.

Stanley Grinstein, Elyse Grinstein, and Sidney B. Felsen in the 1960s. Courtesy of Stanley and Elyse Grinstein, via the Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Stanley Grinstein and Elyse Grinstein with Sidney B. Felsen (at the bottom) in the 1960s. Hay was close with Stanley and Elyse, who invited the artist to California for several summers in the 1960s. Courtesy of Stanley and Elyse Grinstein, via the Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

What did you do once you got to Bisbee?

I took on a hotel, the Philadelphia Hotel, and the project I took to keep making things was to do everything that had to be done, whatever it was: floors, putting a roof on—I did a lot of work.

Did any of the skills you learned translate into later art projects?

To put it very simply, the circumstances were that I was working at the hotel. And while I was doing this, I saved little scraps of wood, and that was sort a personal collection. I had no idea what I was gonna do with these bits and pieces of wood.

How long were you saving them? 

Oh, maybe five, six years. Something like that. So when I decided I would start making art again, I started using these scraps of wood. I wanted to make paintings of two-dimensional objects, so you could do a painting and be true to the nature of what you’re painting. You’re not trying to paint form because you’re dealing with two dimensions.<img src="https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Wood-800×1024.jpg&quot; alt="As an employee of the Philadelphia Hotel in Bisbee, Arizona, Alex Hay collected scraps of wood that he depicted years later in paintings like the one above, which is titled Raw Wood

(2004)

. Caption TK.” srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Wood-800×1024.jpg 800w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Wood-234×300.jpg 234w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Wood-39×50.jpg 39w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Wood-1499×1920.jpg 1499w” width=”800″ height=”1024″>

As he worked to renovate the Philadelphia Hotel in Bisbee, Arizona, into his private home and studio, Alex Hay collected scraps of wood that he depicted years later in paintings like the one above, which is titled Raw Wood (2004). Courtesy the artist and Peter Freeman, Inc., New York.

But were there any skills you learned while working on the hotel that translated into later art projects?

As an artist, I never bought a stretched canvas. I built everything myself. So those were the circumstances that gave me the skills to do the work I did on the hotel. Everything I did—and I can defend this statement very well—came out of some set of circumstances. This is my mode of operation. It’s what you would call the conceptual aspect of my work. Circumstances determined how certain possibilities presented themselves. That’s very important.

There’s an article by Peter Schjeldahl from 1971 in which he says you once spent two years making yourself a pair of boots. What were the circumstances of that?

I used to always buy boots from L.L. Bean. You know L.L. Bean? They used to make really beautiful hand-sewn boots. Then they stopped, so I decided, “Well, I’ll make my own boots.” So I carefully measured my foot in a very sort of complicated way to get the contour. And I built this tool that was basically a depth gauge out of wood so I could map out my foot. It took a hell of a long time.

Your latest works in the Peter Freeman show are detailed paintings of the fur of four of your cats. What were you interested in there?

Well, if you have four cats, they’re a hell of a lot of work. You do everything for them. You have cats?

<img srcset="https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Hay_2021_installation-1_L-1024×682.jpg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Hay_2021_installation-1_L-300×200.jpg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Hay_2021_installation-1_L-50×33.jpg 50w" width="1024" height="682" src="https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/03/Hay_2021_installation-1_L-1024×682.jpg&quot; alt="Alex Hay's most recent works are four paintings based on his cats' fur. The picture on the right is titled <em>Lily

Alex Hay’s most recent works are four paintings based on his cats’ fur. The picture on the right is titled Lily (2019–20). In an earlier period in his career, Hay also made several chairs that he’s shown as artworks. The one on the left is from around 1970. Photo courtesy the artist and Peter Freeman, Inc., New York. Photograph by Nicholas Knight Studio.

I have two.

Then you know what I’m talking about. You have to feed them, you have to relate to them. We have a whole bunch of cats, four, maybe five. I had one downstairs that was quite old and I had to make a stool for it so it could jump up to the place where it ate. This is my orange tabby. And the stool I made has three legs instead of four, because with four-legged stools, it’s hard to get stability on uneven floor.

You’ve made and shown other chairs before as artworks. Would you do that with these stools?

You know, they’re very nice objects. Eventually I’ll make a couple and send them to Peter [Freeman] and he can have them in his gallery.

With the cat paintings, what convinced you to make them?

The circumstances were, if I have to do all this work to take care of these cats, why not use them for art?

What about the coloration?

I wasn’t trying to make a facsimile reproduction. There’s a painting of one cat, Bella, in two panels, that came closest. But basically, it was just patterns. The last painting I did was tortoise shell with black and a lot of canvas showing through and some bright orange color. But I wasn’t trying to duplicate colors. I just wanted to get the

general details of the patterns.Alex Hay. Caption TK. Bella TKTK

Bella (2020) is another of Alex Hay’s recent cat paintings. Courtesy the artist and Peter Freeman, Inc., New York.

It’s been about 20 years now since you started showing art again after a long break. Do you feel like your earlier work, the things you made when you were still in New York, is being reassessed as a result of these past 20 years? 

Are you asking me whether it’s happened, or what I think about it?

I don’t know—what’s the more interesting question?

Well you know, I never talked very much or publicized myself. So no, I don’t think anyone knows very much about what my life was like in New York.

But I think people would be quite interested to know, it seems to me. That’s why I called you.

Well, that’s basically the story.

Alex Hay in Bisbee, Arizona, where he has lived since the early 1970s. Courtesy the artist.

Alex Hay in Bisbee, Arizona, where he has lived since the early 1970s. Courtesy the artist.

Alex Hay: Past Work and Cats, 1963–2020” is on view at Peter Freeman in New York through May 29.

alex hay: kindred spirit: PROOF that another AHT discourse/perspective was possible: proof that it was intentionally/voluntarily suppressed

storing notes way incomplete

While the personal is always, if not in everyway, political; the political, by definition, should rarely be, personal.

In other words, ‘identity -’ and ‘cultural politics’ go badly wrong precisely because the conflicts they are meant to negotiate are waged on the socially insufficient and far too narrow grounds of the personal. They function as they do because of cultural differences, not similarities. And no doubt, such cultural differences are crucially important, in the realm of the personal.

In the realm of the political, however, where they are easily captured by ideologically narrow strains of power, ‘differences’ become bent to agendas determined by cultural identities not their own, and thereby lend themselves to furthering causes based on alliances of sameness of some sort that may actually be opposed to the cultural commitments to non-alliance around which they form socially.

In the context of Kamala Harris’s complex heritages, we have a situation like this:

“I think as an Indian American, what would be the most helpful thing is if she is a very good vice president,” said Shareen Punian, who held a fundraiser for Harris during the 2010 campaign for California attorney general. “That integrates us as Indians into the broader American community, and we don’t have to be singled out as being different.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/kamala-harris-india-covid-suffering/2021/05/24/32dc17ae-b72c-11eb-96b9-e949d5397de9_story.html

Punian at first glance suggests that she wishes to eschew being identified through cultural difference, desiring to be ‘integrated’ and not ‘singled out’. At second glance, however, she is unwilling to abandon her identity politics, as witnessed by her easy to miss clause, ‘as Indians’.  She wishes to be integrated, to not be singled out as different; in other word, to be identified as “American”.

The Jesse Jackson hyphen, as in Indian-American, has been meant to accomplish the contradictory subjective position Punian desires – Indian and American, yet not different but part of a “broader” community of sameness, as American only.

For an actual human to live such a paradox, his/her/they would have to shed personal, cultural identity and embraced some conception of national identity. First and foremost, Punian would have to embrace being an American, and at least publically and politically, abandon the ‘as Indian’ stipulation.

storing notes way incomplete

of course!

Racism in Israel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia   (Redirected from Israeli racism) Jump to navigationJump to search

Racism in Israel encompasses all forms and manifestations of racism experienced in Israel, irrespective of the colour or creed of the perpetrator and victim, or their citizenship, residency, or visitor status.

More specifically in the Israeli context, however, racism in Israel refers to racism directed against Israeli Arabs by Israeli Jews,[1] intra-Jewish racism between the various Jewish ethnic divisions (in particular against Ethiopian Jews),[2] historic and current racism towards Mizrahi Jews and Jews of color, and racism on the part of Israeli Arabs against Israeli Jews.

Racism on the part of Israeli Jews against Muslim Arabs in Israel exist in institutional policies, personal attitudes, the media, education, immigration rights, housing,[3] social life and legal policies. Some elements within the Ashkenazi Israeli Jewish population have also been described as holding discriminatory attitudes towards fellow Jews of other backgrounds, including against Ethiopian Jews, Indian Jews, Mizrahi Jews, Sephardi Jews, etc. Although intermarriage between Ashkenazim and Sephardim/Mizrahim is increasingly common in Israel, and social integration is constantly improving, disparities continue to persist. Ethiopian Jews in particular have faced discrimination from non-Black Jews. It has been suggested that the situation of the Ethiopian Jews as ‘becoming white’ is similar to that of some European immigrants like Poles and Italians who arrived in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[4]

Israel has broad anti-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination by both government and nongovernment entities on the basis of race, religion, and political beliefs, and prohibits incitement to racism.[5] The Israeli government and many groups within Israel have undertaken efforts to combat racism. Israel is a state-party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and is a signatory of the Convention against Discrimination in Education. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin announced to a meeting of academics in October 2014 that it is finally time for Israel to live up to its promise as a land of equality, time to cure the epidemic of racism. “Israeli society is sick, and it is our duty to treat this disease”, Rivlin stated.[6]

tag-a-long-identity hubris that honestly, most would choose to ignore, because it’s irrelevant and no one really cares except politicians and their media backers.

of course!

In Defence of Ken Loach

Sidecar – https://newleftreview.org/sidecar/search?query%5Btag%5D=1

Yanis Varoufakis18 February 2021

So, it’s come to that: Ken Loach is now the target of a character assassination campaign waged by those who will stop at nothing to shield the apartheid policies of Israel. Their message to people of good conscience is simple: Unless you too want to be tainted as an antisemite, keep quiet about the crimes against humanity and the assault on human rights in the land of Palestine. They are putting the rest of us on notice: If we can do this to Ken Loach, a man who has spent his life championing the victims of oppression, racism and discrimination, imagine what we shall do to you. If you dare support the Palestinians’ human rights, we will claim that you hate the Jews.

The art of assassinating the character of a leftist has become better honed in recent times. When the Financial Times called me a Marxist biker, I confessed to the charge gladly. Calling me a Stalinist, as some unsophisticated rightists do, also fails to ignite an existentialist crisis in my soul because I know full well that I would be a prime candidate for the gulag under any Stalinist regime. But call me a misogynist or an antisemite and the pain is immediate. Why? Because, cognisant of how imbued we all are in Western societies with patriarchy, antisemitism and other forms of racism, these accusations hit a nerve.

It is, thus, a delicious irony that those of us who have tried the hardest to rid our souls of misogyny, antisemitism and other forms of racism are hurt the most when accused of these prejudices. We are fully aware of how easily antisemitism can infect people who are not racist in other respects. We understand well its cunning and potency, for instance the fact that the Jews are the only people to have been despised both for being capitalists and for being leftie revolutionaries. This is why the strategic charge of antisemitism, whose purpose is to silence and ostracise dissidents, causes us internal turmoil. This is what lies behind the runaway success of such vilification campaigns against my friends Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, Brian Eno, Roger Waters and now Ken Loach. 

‘Is your exclusive criticism of Israel not symptomatic of antisemitism?’, we are often asked. Setting aside the farcicality of the claim that we have been criticising Israel exclusively, criticism of Israel is not and can never be criticism of the Jews, exactly as criticism of the Greek state or of American imperialism is not criticism of the Greeks or of the Americans. The same applies to interrogating the wisdom of having created an ethnically specific state. When remarkable people like my heroes Hannah Arendt and Albert Einstein questioned the Zionist project of a Jewish state in Palestine, it is offensive to claim that to debate Israel’s existence is to be antisemitic. The question is not whether Arendt and Einstein were right or wrong. The question is whether their questioning of the wisdom of a Jewish state in the land of Palestine is antisemitic or not. Clearly, while antisemites opposed the foundation of the state of Israel, it does not follow that only antisemites opposed the foundation of a Jewish state in Palestine.

On a personal note, back in 2015, while serving as Greece’s finance minister, a Greek pro-troika newspaper thought they could diminish me with a cartoon depicting me as a Shylock-like figure. What these idiots did not realise was that they made me very proud! Trying to tarnish my image by likening me to a Jew was, and remains, a badge of honour. Speaking also on behalf of aforementioned friends vilified as antisemites, we feel deeply flattered whenever an antisemite bundles us together with a people who have bravely endured racism for so long. As long as a single Jew feels threatened by antisemitism, we shall pin the Star of David on our chest, eager and ready to be counted as Jews in solidarity – even though we may not be Jewish. At the very same time, we wear the Palestinian flag as a symbol of solidarity with a people living in an apartheid state built by reactionary Israelis, damaging my Jewish and Arab brothers and sisters and stoking the fires of racism which, ironically, always forge a steelier variety of antisemitism.

Returning to Ken Loach, thankfully no smear campaign against him can succeed. Not only because Ken’s work and life are proof of the accusation’s absurdity, but also because of the courageous Israelis who take awful risks by defending the right of Jews and non-Jews alike to criticise Israel. For instance, the group of academics who have methodically deconstructed the IHRA’s indefensible definition of antisemitism, which conflates it with legitimate criticisms of Israel that many progressive Israelis share. Or the wonderful people working with the Israeli human rights organisation B’TSELEM to resist the apartheid policies of successive Israeli governments. I am just as grateful to them as I am to my friend and mentor Ken Loach.

In Defence of Ken Loach

Inside Man: what Thatcher once said of Blair could still be said about Obama – He was Reaganism’s biggest achievement

The path forward is difficult to envision amid the fog of culture war, political war and the threat of actual, real-life civil war. But it is clear that Biden is at a crossroads, and still unsure which way to go. He can follow his boss, Barack Obama, who pursued bipartisanship, comity and compromise–accommodating corporate power. Or he can break toward the path of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who did battle with oligarchy, stood down fascism and welcomed the hatred of the rich.

One thing he cannot do is try to go in both directions. The lesson of the Obama administration is that you can have appeasement or transformative progress, but you almost certainly cannot have both.

[and, as quoted in the article]:

“We would not have Trump as president if the Democrats had remained the party of the working class,” University of California-Irvine professor Bernard Grofman recently told the New York Times. “[Obama] responded to the housing crisis with bailouts of the lenders and interlinked financial institutions, not of the folks losing their homes. And the stagnation of wages and income for the middle and bottom of the income distribution continued under Obama.”

david sirota

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/22/to-achieve-a-real-legacy-biden-will-have-to-be-more-radical-and-ready-to-fight

let us hope biden rises above obama’s self-imposed sycophancy. he might, because he’s both old and badly complicit in bad shit, experienced and still decent. the morphic symbolism of old white male and youngish, questionable black female prosecutor just might strike the demented US political unconscious imaginary along an effective lay line… and work out for no doubt a very short time, at least until the polar ice caps melt. so, we can all go down together, as laurie anderson has prophesized.

Inside Man: what Thatcher once said of Blair could still be said about Obama – He was Reaganism’s biggest achievement