0021   |   May 24, 2018

Politics in Art: How Much is Too Much

C. Travis Webb and Steven Fullwood discuss the role of politics in art. Artists have always been politically engaged, but can too much politics interfere with what is moving and provocative about great art?

C.T. WEBB 00:18 [music] Good afternoon, good morning or good evening and welcome to The American Age Podcast. Today, I’m talking to Steven Fullwood. Steven, how are you doing?
S. FULLWOOD 00:24 I’m doing pretty well. How are you doing today?
C.T. WEBB 00:27 Pretty good. Steven and I had a brief exchange earlier which he said that the universe was always asking him to dance [laughter], and sometimes he just had to say, “No,” which I thought was a very elegant way to describe the way that the world imposes itself on us [laughter]. So I appreciated that very much. So today we’re going to talk about– the topic started kind of abstract and thankfully, Steven had the good sense to try and ask me to anchor it a little bit, but I’m going to give you the [inaudible], and follow the topic, and I’m going to explain the context, and I’ll let Steven kind of just lead us into it. So the topic today is the role of politics in art. And really, I mean, the question almost in a quantifiable sense. I don’t mean in numeracy, I don’t mean with numbers, but I mean, can you have too much politics in art? I think the flipside of that would also be, can you have too little politics in art? And what prompted– I mean, this is something that you get all the time in sort of like, “Let a poem be a poem. Keep identity politics out of art.”
C.T. WEBB 01:41 This argument, this consternation takes a variety of forms, but what prompted the topic for me, today, was I was reading about an exchange that Chinua Achebe had with James Baldwin around this idea that– essentially, Achebe’s point was that the point of art is to unsettle and that if you aren’t unsettled, that probably means that you are someone that should be unsettled, that you are benefiting from the existing kind of iniquities, the things that are unfair in the world. And the piece is a great little meditation on just the history and the diversity of writers and artists that have tackled and struggled with this question about the role of art, and picking at some of the low-hanging fruit, “Art should be for art’s sake,” or, “Art is entertainment,” or, “Art is excess,” these kind of things. So, Steven, I kind of figured– you had mentioned it would nice to have Seth in the conversation and I agree. I know that you have a lot of experience and time in your professional life, working with artists who were intimately bound to the political arena, whether they wanted to be or not. So I thought maybe you might be a good foil to have that conversation with.
S. FULLWOOD 03:09 I appreciate that. I was meditating on your question earlier, and was thinking, “Well, there’s no such thing as apolitical art [laughter].” It’s created by people who are political [laughter], who have a particular perspective. Now, whether that perspective finds its way directly– say, “I’m a Republican and my art is Republican,” I don’t think it’s that simple. So earlier when you were talking about if you’re not unsettled by art, then you’re probably benefiting, but I think that’s too flip of an answer to me. I think that there’s something more rich and engaging. I understand Baldwin’s politic with it and I understand, as a writer, what he meant, but I think that all art is political, it just depends on the see-er. And maybe that’s what he was getting at on one end, but I don’t think that it’s solely a matter of who benefits or not. I don’t think that that’s the case. And so what it brought me back to was a conversation that Valerie Boyd, a writer in Georgia who wrote a biography of Zora Neale Hurston, a wonderful biography, had with Toni Morrison. And the occasion was it was an interview for a book about Toni Cade Bambara called Savoring the Salt. And, Toni Cade Bambara, for those who don’t know, was a wonderful– she called herself a “cultural worker.” Although she published novels and short stories and was an amazing thinker, she also was a part of Scribe Video and was a documentarian; a very smart woman, a very thoughtful woman who felt like any argument that politics and art were separate, made her laugh and then she’d shoot you a look, is what Morrison said [laughter], like, “What are you talking about here?” Because we’re talking about what art gets shown in galleries, what street art is, “How do you define street art?” Just a host of things, “Who gets to be looked at?” I mean, the last public conversation, I think that was national and possibly international about the two artists that the Obamas chose to capture them.
C.T. WEBB 05:27 The portraiture?
S. FULLWOOD 05:28 Right, in the portrait gallery in DC, how divergent those portraits were and the type of artists that they chose. So Kehinde Wiley, and I apologize about the woman’s name, the artist who painted Michelle Obama, her name escapes me, but they both have very strong politics. And, of course, there were detractors, there were people who loved it. I was sort of in between, it was less that they had broken tradition, it was just that I didn’t really care for the art [laughter]. But to get back to the point about politics in art; they’re intertwined to me. They’re always together, but it’s who’s looking and who’s– what were you thinking about this?
C.T. WEBB 06:07 No, no, I actually– the thing is I basically, 100% agree with that. So that’s going to be a boring conversation [laughter]. So I”m going to come at it with a slightly different question because everything you just said, I am in total agreement with. I think it’s a misguided question that codes a lot of presuppositions to try and pull politics out of art in that way. But let me try and ask it a different way and see if we can get at something productive with it. Can art be too preoccupied with its politics to be potent? So in this instance, I’m thinking of something where you kind of front-load– this was common in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s in the United States with “Communist art.” Oftentimes, we won’t even want to call it art, we’ll want to call it propaganda, right? So we like to re-brand it as something else [laughter].
S. FULLWOOD 07:15 I think propaganda art is the art that you don’t agree with or art that you’re unsettled by [laughter].
C.T. WEBB 07:19 Yeah, that’s exactly right. But at the same time, we want to– I mean, I at least, very tenaciously want to hold to my ability to condemn what I would call propaganda like certain Nazi Germany, the re-casting of Jews as animals or cattle, and certainly, similar aspects in communist Russia– I’m sorry, former Soviet Union, and no doubt, examples in the United States as well, probably a very long list.
S. FULLWOOD 07:51 Very.
C.T. WEBB 07:52 So when it comes to re-branding art as propaganda, I don’t want to let go of my ability to do that with, at the same time, owning the side of the argument that accepts that these are, basically, different political or social positions. So basically, I want to say– I’ll ask you direct, is there a way for us to thread that needle in a way to say that– so politics is clearly a part of it, but when it is too deeply saturated with a political message, it somehow impedes its more libertine spirit, or something along those lines.
S. FULLWOOD 08:34 Wow. Okay, so the saturation part is the one that’s really getting to me because taking your position, I think I want it all. But let me say why I want it, I want it because I think that all art is important regardless if I agree with it or not. My critique of it, like your critique of it, would be to have the right to do that. I feel like for too long, and probably, we still do it to some degree, is that it’s the dispossessed or a certain cultural group that doesn’t have voice or doesn’t have access to the galleries or the museums where we collect the crème de la crème, so to speak. And so when it comes to propaganda in art, I think it’s really critical because I’m thinking about, for example– and I guess I’m sort of slightly deviating into archives when it comes to that. When I think of posters portraying black men; black men are going to go rape your Chinese women or your Japanese women. And then also during the internment here in the US, the different sort of leaflets that were put around the neighborhoods and stuff so that Japanese folks would be pushed into these internment camps. This is a form of art. It’s a form of propaganda, but it needs to be a part of our collective memory. And I think that art is harder to hold, in a sense, the sort of fine arts because we think of them less as political, sometimes, then we do, say, of collecting someone’s papers, say, of a Nazi sympathizer in the US.
S. FULLWOOD 10:22 Well, I want those papers to be collected, too. I want the KKK– I remember there was up for auction that I went to once, there was a doctor’s– he was a member of the KKK– it was a doctor in the South who had a number of addresses with not only just the people’s names, but the occupations, and it was a very interesting sort of document, but it was important for us to remember that cooks and shoe-shiners and people who owned the pharmacy, that these people all were part of this movement, or seemed to be at the very least. That stuff needs to be kept. And so I feel the same way about propaganda art. If it’s saturated with the message, your right is to say it doesn’t appeal to you. And you didn’t go far enough for me in one point because I wanted you to say something about whether or not we should collect it and I jumped to that, or that it should be less regarded than art that you do like. So I wanted you to kind of comment on that.
C.T. WEBB 11:23 Okay, so that’s a very good– okay, so parsing it in that way– so as far as collection goes, to me, that kind of moves into the realm of history, and I think, save as much as you can possibly save to try and track what is ultimately un-trackable, which is kind of the fading present moment. So, “Collect it all,” right? I mean, I am in favor of that. I guess, I’m probably saying something more along the lines of, in our current cultural moment, in any current cultural moment, in the present, in what is sort of capturing the imagination, and what gets circulated and communicated and talked about; how do we hold onto our ability to call bullshit, or call propaganda, or call, “Oh, well, really what you’re doing is you’re just kind of re-capitulating white supremacy,” or, “You’re re-capitulating misogyny or hegemony.” And there’s all kind of art that does that, right?
S. FULLWOOD 12:26 Mm-hmm. Absolutely.
C.T. WEBB 12:28 Plenty of it. But at the same time, I want to– I guess, this is what I want. This is what I want and you can disabuse me of this [laughter]. So what I want is I want to be able to say that there really is something universal about what sensitive men and women– and by “sensitive,” I mean sensitive to the suffering of themselves and others, that there is a universal thread in art that taps that sensitivity to the suffering of ourselves and others, and that that sensitivity takes up a metaphysical position before politics. That before– and I don’t mean that it can be extracted from politics. You can’t do that, right? So as soon as you start to interact with other human beings, that’s political, right?
S. FULLWOOD 13:23 Mm-hmm. Absolutely.
C.T. WEBB 13:24 You’ve got to sanction, advocate yourself. So I’m not saying there’s some pure realm in which it exists, but that– oh, go ahead. Jump in, please.
S. FULLWOOD 13:34 Okay. So you want some standard or some way of critiquing or pushing to the side in terms of this kind of art. You want some way to call bullshit on it, and to also make sure that it doesn’t stand toe-to-toe with a Rembrandt or something else, is that what you mean?
C.T. WEBB 14:01 Yeah. So, I guess what I want to ask, which I didn’t know until we started this conversation, is there a way for us as kind of post-post-colonial intellectuals, post-post-structuralists intellectuals, post-critical theory intellectuals, is there a way for us to find a common universal thread? And, I mean, universal’s a bad word in a lot of intellectual circles, is there a way for us to find a common thread in art between, say, someone like Toni Cade Bambara and Ernest Hemingway? Or fill in the blank with painters, musicians, poets– I don’t really care what the artform is, that allows us to hold on fiercely to political injustices and to call out the way certain groups are used on the bottom side of the pyramid to kind of hold up the top end of the pyramid? Is there a way for us to hold onto that and still claim some sort of universal position in relation to art criticism?
S. FULLWOOD 15:14 So I’m thinking about a rubric, that’s just what I was thinking about, and I said, well, what I really– at the bottom of it for me is education. So it’s less about the art, it’s how we educate people to look at art and to create an environment where folks really have better tools and more open minds to see stuff. I think that we can still hold onto amazing pieces of art that aren’t discarded or utilized in ways that aren’t great, but I think that it’s hard to– because one man’s propaganda, obviously, is not someone else’s propaganda, and I don’t think that it’s devoid– or shouldn’t be devoid of– or it shouldn’t avoid criticism, heavy criticism that’s not solely the domain of art critics or those rarefied folks that do that work, it should be in the communities. And in some ways it is. I’ve actually seen different kinds of communities– or have been doing community works where they actually take folks to the museum and then they talk about the art, or they talk about, say, the Obama’s portraits and, “What do they mean to us? What do they mean to the common person?” These sorts of things. I think the tools need to be sharpened and put in the hands of regular folks who may or may not be interested.
C.T. WEBB 16:37 Mm-hmm. Do you think that we could say that what appeals– so I’m thinking about what appeals to us– in the artwork that appeals to us, is something that calls us forth as individuals and calls to us and beckons us towards that work, right? And that that which calls to us is something singular and not amenable to propaganda or group identity. That if the art serves the sole purpose of reifying the group, reifying the tribe, if that its primary objective, that art does that does that deserves the moniker of propaganda and should not be held in the same regard as art that calls to us as individuals.
S. FULLWOOD 17:48 Okay, keep going. Yes, please keep going.
C.T. WEBB 17:52 Yeah, and let me ask you, and I’ll bring it back to work that I know you’re intimately familiar with. So Joseph Beam, yes? The poet that now– we’ve talked about this previously on the show, his work only got published posthumously, yes? As a lot of his notebooks, he didn’t actually release during his lifetime, is that correct?
S. FULLWOOD 18:15 Well, so before he passed– he was more of an editor than a poet, and he was an essayist and a journalist. So a lot of Joe’s stuff was published during his lifetime. The book he was working on before he died was published posthumously, and the book that Charles Stevens and I co-edited to celebrate Joseph Beam, we drew upon the experiences of people who knew him who had published in In the Life and Brother to Brother, its sequel, but also for Joe, the politics of his work in terms of he was working with the National Coalition of Blacks, Lesbians, and Gays as the editor of their organ, which is called BLACK/OUT, which was their journal. Joe’s politics were very similar to a lot of the people that I admire who stayed in the community, worked within their communities and made sure that books were in the hands of people who were in laundromats. I think, Barbara Smith, in the interview I did with her for the book, said that Joe was very concerned about people who weren’t in the streets organizing or doing other things. He would go to laundromats and talk to women about their concerns, just folks, again, that don’t have the same sort of draw to or stakes in the art game or the politics game. They were simply folks, day-to-day, the proletariat, so to speak. And so I think– when I think about–
C.T. WEBB 19:46 It’s such a beautiful image, actually, of someone advocating for these refined things of beauty kind of knocking on the door of laundromats to go in and agitate and speak to people just about their experiences.
S. FULLWOOD 20:04 And I think you’ll find that a lot in New York City, in San Francisco, and a number of other places where organizing, it’s a lot more thoughtful. It’s not simply organizing and, “We’re going to do this,” and then it disappears until the next atrocious act appears. For example, Third World Newsreel is a distribution company that has for the last 50 years produced films on a variety of levels, both within– from the perspective of black and brown people– it’s third cinema, which is looking at the concerns of the folks who are impacted by certain issues. It’s their point of view, dealing with racism or economic disparities and so forth, and it started in Latin America. So Third World Newsreel’s been doing this for a while, and they continue to do free forums for people in the community for them to come and just look at movies, or to talk with someone about learning how to make films. Similarly, with Scribe Video in Philadelphia where Toni Cade Bambara was helping folks in the community learn how to use a camera to record their own stories. And so being empowered to tell your own story or to know that your story matters, I think is very political and very important.
S. FULLWOOD 21:18 The point I want to get back to with you, though, and your question, I think the delineation of the art that speaks of people and the art that speaks of– to use your term, tribal or tribalism, it depends on who’s looking at it. There’s some people who are for better or for worse, are always going to identify with their racial identity, with their sexual identity, with their gender, religious affiliation and so forth and whether those eyes– I know that I’ve been with people where we’ve seen different things based on what we [laughter] advocate for and what we believe and what just resonates with us. So I don’t know if there could be a clear delineation, I don’t know if you’re calling for that, but I think that more responsibility needs to be made available– not made available, but just opened up so that everyone has the right to look at something and critique it, and not in a YouTube sort of cussing you out [laughter] in the comments section way, but see how certain works of art really do impact their life. If they saw Nazi propaganda, that’s generally a signifier for a lot of people. It loses its resonance sometimes for subsequent generations who didn’t have to live through or talk to about or weren’t terrorized by it, do you know what I mean?
C.T. WEBB 22:41 Yeah, they don’t have the political hooks that just kind of to hang the hats on, yeah.
S. FULLWOOD 22:46 So it’s hard generationally, it’s hard class-wise, it’s hard just in general interest, what people are interested in doing, but I definitely feel like on the ground level where I think a lot of change, if not all change, happens in society, there needs to be more education about those works of art and what they represent, and then have those community conversations, which I think they’re easier to have now, in a way. I think people are currently saying that because we are in the age of the internet, people are constantly on their phones, but I do think that there is a hunger for people to talk to each other and to be in communities and to fight for clean water in Flint. And so these things have drawn people together, and they’re using– so I’m kind of going off of a bit, but I–
C.T. WEBB 23:37 No, you’re actually not at all. No, I don’t think you’re going off at all. I think you’re trying to help me find the thread of what I’m trying to say, which I appreciate. I’ll try and give a concrete example. So one of the areas where I feel like there’s a great deal of miscommunication around– so now, we’re treading into activism, but politics, art, obviously, it’s inextricably bound which is what we’re saying. So yeah, something like the Black Lives Matter movement, and then you get this pushback, All LIves Matter etc. So I feel like the point of a movement like Black Lives Matter, or the point of something like Go Tell it on the Mountain, any art that is clearly inextricably bound with its politics or politics that produces what might be considered art– right, so Black Lives Matter– is ultimately sort of a cri de coeur to see the group as individuals, right? So in order to not read black bodies as simply black bodies, but to read them as people, to read these people as individuals, and the–
S. FULLWOOD 24:54 Well, that’s the aim of good art. That would be for me, the aim of good art. Right.
C.T. WEBB 24:58 Yeah, yeah. Yes, exactly. And that’s the core of what I’m gesturing towards. That at a fundamental level, what’s being asked for in these movements is to be seen, oddly enough, as not a movement, right? For the members of Black Lives Matter, ultimately– now, not all the people that participate, but I’m saying kind of the underlying spirit of it is to not be seen as black lives but to be seen as individuals and not be read as this sort of monolithic group because that’s white hegemony, right? So white hegemony is to read groups as particular ways. And–
S. FULLWOOD 25:51 But that’s part of it, though. That’s part of it. Part of it is the very reasonable [laughter], “Treat us like humans because we are humans. Black lives matter.” And implicit in that is that all lives matter, but not the way in which people have used that phrase. Like, “If all lives did matter, we would not have to say, ‘Black lives matter.'” That’s the first thing.
C.T. WEBB 26:15 Yeah. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Let me finish that and then you can jump in. So, yes, exactly that, and the way that these movements get perverted or shaped or redrawn in the collective imagination is by short-circuiting that first necessary move, right?
S. FULLWOOD 26:40 Oh, absolutely.
C.T. WEBB 26:41 So it’s to say, “Oh, well, all lives–” as you just said, like, “So all lives matter,” is to completely short-circuit the first move that makes the movement necessary, which is that you’re reading all of these bodies the same way.
S. FULLWOOD 26:58 Yeah, you’re completely right. Okay, so there are two things. The first thing is that it’s, “Black lives matter,” and it’s a call for just being treated like a human, which I think is still low-standard based on what we have currently come to understand [laughter] in terms of humanity. The other part of it is– because there’s a lack of imagination about, really, what a good life is. We still think a good life are some very sort of capitalist-shaped, “Have a car. Have a house,” these sorts of things, when life is so much larger than that. The second part of it for me is that when we talk about humanity, we’re still very young in this process to– I don’t want to walk into a room and be stripped of my humanity based on what it is that I’m wearing. I should be able to wear what I want. And I think the first thought I had when I was younger, I went to church and I said, “Why are people dressing up to go church? If they believe in God, doesn’t God just accept you as you are [laughter]?”
C.T. WEBB 28:05 Doesn’t He see you when you’re at home, [inaudible], when you’re–?
S. FULLWOOD 28:07 Yeah, changing your– not so dressed up. But what you said about the first sort of cry, “Well, all lives matter. Not just black lives, all lives matter.” Well, that’s the empire. That’s the empirical reflex to sort of pull you back in. “Well, what are you guys talking about? Well, everyone has equal rights. Obama was our president.” There were all these different ways of sort of denying injustice that’s really built into the empirical model. It’s not there to remember you [laughter]. You’re on an “amnesiatic” mission when it comes to being a part– and it’s funny because I was going to say, “Whites,” but it’s not even whiteness in a way because there are whites who are very, very disenchanted and abused by the notion of whiteness. It’s something a little more sinister, I think, which is what happened today, I think– Supreme Court, five to four voted on–
C.T. WEBB 29:08 You’re talking about the workers’ right to–?
S. FULLWOOD 29:09 Yeah, not being able to collectively get together. And so that feels more about– I mean, it’s obviously economic, but it’s yet another way to separate people. It’s another way to sort of do that. And so while we’re fighting about black and white, and trans’ rights, and this sort of thing, which are all very important, we also need to pay attention to that because that’s, yet, something else that’s sort of separating people. But I’m getting off again– I’m going off again, but I’m coming back to this empirical thing where it’s the reflex. It doesn’t surprise me that any sort of cry-out for an end to police brutality would end up with, “There are good police officers [laughter].” Or the recent shooting, it’s almost become, “Our thoughts and prayers,” a little bit of an argument, maybe someone suggests some sort of legislation, and then we go dark again until the next shooting. And so I think there needs to– there’s something– so I want to read something very briefly that relates to what we’re talking about here, and it’s a quote by a woman named Maud Salter who was of Ghanaian and Scottish descent. She was a wonderful photographer and political activist who I really adore. And so what she said was– and I think this is something that relates to how it stops us from– what we stop thinking. So she’s talking about photographs here, “I feel that we’ve been surrounded by photographic images. We engage with them in newspapers and magazines, on billboards. We read film, we read television images. And so it’s a very immediate process in terms of its production, and it’s a very immediate process in terms of catching the viewers attention from the very first moment. But obviously, the challenge is then to get beyond that superficial gaze, to convert that gaze into a more concentrated gaze.”
S. FULLWOOD 31:00 And so the reason why I read that was because when we think about Black Lives Matter, it’s more than just, obviously, black people out there in the streets with very good reasons to say, “There’s injustice and we need to address this.” The underlying part of it, that sustained gaze is what we need to really move into, and that sustained sort of interest in why is there so much injustice in the world, or in this particular community, or with these kinds of people? These are the things, I think, people are doing more of, or hopefully doing more of in that work. And I think that’s what’s hard to get beyond, that superficial gaze. It’s really hard to get beyond that when we’re talking about art and propaganda and just evil things. Our museum’s going to collect memes, for example. It’s a very interesting moment [laughter] where memes are very political, very funny at times, very scathing sometimes. They do the work of an article in The New Yorker, just the image itself. That might be a bit much, but [laughter] I do like memes, I think that they tell you something that’s on the mind of the people. The repetition in which they’re used on people’s social media; it has currency for them. Will museums think that it’s a lower form of art? I beg to differ. I think it’s very important.
C.T. WEBB 32:18 Yeah. So we’re almost out of time, but in some ways, I feel like our conversation was kind of a useful prolegomena for me to kind of come up with a slightly more coherent approach on the topic because I think you brought up a couple of really sort of critical questions around the idea of how communities, small communities, larger communities, and sizes in-between, are using art. How is art being used within these communities? How is art being used to speak back to larger injustices? How is the larger system using art, or what we might call propaganda or want to call propaganda; using it to spit back at those peripheral movements? So I’m going to let you have the last word, but I think this is something to revisit next week with Seph or three of us because I think I can clarify a few questions that I think might be, hopefully, interesting to some of our listeners, but I’ll leave it with you.
S. FULLWOOD 33:29 Well, I appreciate that last word. So I wanted to talk very briefly about Portia de Rossi, who is an actress on Arrested Development, I think she did Scandal for a while, and she was on Ally McBeal. So she writes a really amazing book called Unbearable Lightness, and it tracks how she became an artist, or an actress specifically and her issues with eating. So she had bulimia and she was always throwing up and always exercising. And, basically, she lost her mind. This book is a wonderful chronicle of that. So when it comes to art– so she’s a part of a group now that is interested in taking out the middle-man, so to speak, and the name of the group is called– let’s see– the name of the group is General Public. And what it does is it’s a way to sort of give 3D reproductions of your art, and she would be the interface between street artists and people who don’t want to go to museums, but the model that she has, it’s still really underprivileged as the artist. The artist gets 5% of–
C.T. WEBB 34:38 Five?
S. FULLWOOD 34:39 5% [laughter].
C.T. WEBB 34:42 That’s worse than Uber by a mile.
S. FULLWOOD 34:44 I was hoping that you would’ve read the article, but it’s pretty terrible. I said, “I’m going to read a few more articles about it,” but the reason why I bring it up because I think that there are a number of ways in which we can get art to people and vice versa and all that–
C.T. WEBB 34:58 Five [laughter]!
S. FULLWOOD 35:00 Yeah, it’s pretty terrible. And I think that one of the common [inaudible] was thinking, “Well, maybe she’s thinking about that one-time commission or the royalties– the one-time commissions you get from clothes and other kinds of merchandise, and maybe that would work in that way depending on how high it is.” But for $1,000, notwithstanding General Public’s commission, it could be just $50 on a piece of your art. And so I find that to be a bit troubling.
C.T. WEBB 35:31 A bit troubling? Okay, so–
S. FULLWOOD 35:33 Yeah, I have to stop putting “bit” in there.
C.T. WEBB 35:35 — I have the articles up. I actually haven’t read them yet because I was running behind today. So this would be something to add the mix. So I find that number appalling. I mean, if there are no other mitigating bits of information, that is an alarming model.
S. FULLWOOD 35:55 Yeah. And these would be reproductions, but I remember when I first heard about it, I was like, “This would be an interesting way to doing this, of getting art out for people who will never step a foot in a gallery or a museum or wherever to buy art.” But yeah, the artist still suffers [laughter]. And so I’m just around a lot of artists who could definitely use a meal and definitely use rent. And so I was troubled by it, and I wanted to talk about it today. But that’s it, we just need to do better.
C.T. WEBB 36:27 Obviously, yeah.
S. FULLWOOD 36:28 Very general, “We need to do better.”
C.T. WEBB 36:31 I hope the listeners will be somewhat patient with the direction of the conversation. I actually think we come up with a couple of useful areas to mine, and so next week and the week after, we can continue the conversation.
S. FULLWOOD 36:42 Sounds good, sounds good.
C.T. WEBB 36:44 Okay. Thanks for joining us.
S. FULLWOOD 36:45 Thank you. [music]


First referenced at 03:09

Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

“A woman of enormous talent and remarkable drive, Zora Neale Hurston published seven books, many short stories, and several articles and plays over a career that spanned more than thirty years. Today, nearly every black woman writer of significance—including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker—acknowledges Hurston as a literary foremother, and her 1937 masterpiece Their Eyes Were Watching God has become a crucial part of the modern literary canon.” Purchase through Amazon here.

First referenced at 20:04

Third World Newsreel (TWN)

“Third World Newsreel (TWN) is an alternative media arts organization that fosters the creation, appreciation and dissemination of independent film and video by and about people of color and social justice issues.

It supports innovative work of diverse forms and genres made by artists who are intimately connected to their subjects through common bonds of ethnic/cultural heritage, class position, gender, sexual orientation and political identification. TWN promotes the self-representation of traditionally marginalized groups as well as the negotiated representation of those groups by artists who work in solidarity with them.

Ultimately, whether documentary, experimental, narrative, traditional or non-traditional, the importance of the media promoted by the organization is its ability to effect social change, to encourage people to think critically about their lives and the lives of others, and to propel people into action.” Third World Newsreel

First referenced at 33:29

Portia de Rossi

“‘Arrested Development’ Actor Portia de Rossi Has Invented a New Technology That She Hopes Will Render Art Galleries Obsolete” artnet news

(r)omance: Are you difficult?

(r)omance: Are you difficult?

What makes someone “difficult” in romantic relationships? Putting themselves under the microscope, the hosts explore their own shortcomings and wonder how difficult they are to love.

Episode 0098 – Comedy: Offensive Comedy and Its Virtues

Episode 0098 – Comedy: Offensive Comedy and Its Virtues

There’s laughing at yourself, and then there’s laughing at others. While the former is virtuous the latter is indispensable to group cohesion. In this episode the hosts talk about Jim Jefferies and Louis C.K. What are the limits of comedy?

Climate Change: Material Memory

Climate Change: Material Memory

Memory isn’t something that lives only in our minds. Memory lives in objects–in museums, and scrap books, and archives. How can archives help us make sense of climate change? What do we choose to preserve and why?

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