Purple Magazine
— F/W 2014 issue 22


I read the news today

text by DIKE BLAIR


Olivier invited me to write something for this issue, something about what I find “really wrong these days, really annoying, really frustrating … and something that you can put in perspective in a global context.”

My first response to the question of what was wrong with the world today was the increasing use of sound effects in audiobooks. Among other listens, I squander my time on airport kiosk books, cheesy thrillers, and detective and spy novels. Do I need to listen to, “He fired three short bursts from his
Makarov,” followed by three bangs? Or, “With her head still ducked below the dashboard, she jammed her foot on the gas pedal,” accompanied by the sound of screeching tires? Of course, that’s more of a peeve, and despite giving it some thought, I couldn’t expand this peeve to global proportions.

Really, I was simply afraid of revealing my fairly simplistic worldview, and I was afraid my things were pretty much all of our things and could go without saying: our impending ecological nightmare, the accelerating divisions of wealth, and the loss of a middle-anything. But rather than let my fear of being obvious defeat me, I thought I would simply join the chorus. For inspiration, I looked at the front page of The New York Times (04/21/14), and it was all there on one page and in one day:

Running Out of Time
by The Editorial Board
There are years, not decades, left to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and American leadership is urgently needed.
That’s not news. And neither is the more US-centric:

50 Years into the War on Poverty, Hardship Hits Back
by Trip Gabriel
A half-century after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared “war on poverty,” McDowell County, W.Va., is a sobering reminder of how much remains broken, in drearily familiar ways and utterly unexpected ones.
Related to the Supreme Court’s two recent rulings that strike many of us as stakes through the heart of our democracy:

Justice Stevens’s Solution for Giant Step in Wrong Direction0
by Adam Liptak
In his new book, Justice John Paul Stevens proposes six amendments, one of which would address the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance.
And then, a little closer to home and an issue for which my experience is a little more specific:

Can an Economist’s Theory Apply to Art?
by Scott Reyburn
Although art is one of the few subjects not mentioned in the index of Mr. Piketty’s 685-page opus, it is worth considering how the unprecedented amounts of money the wealthy have recently been spending on trophy artworks might be a natural extension of his argument.
The super-wealthy buy from and cooperate with mega-galleries and thus manipulate a system that allows them to optimize their investment opportunities while offering huge rewards to a few galleries and artists. This only feels like the amplification of a trend that’s gone on for a few decades. The problem (and I believe it is a problem) is the same as the one afflicting society in general, the disappearance of the middle class or the loss-of- middle in general. Mid-level galleries, galleries that traditionally nurtured middle-aged, mid-career artists (as well as young and old ones) are getting squeezed out. There are many reasons for this, which include rising costs of doing business and the loss of their traditional patron-base — the upper-middle-class, because those collectors can no longer afford the best or even better contemporary art. That’s become the turf of oligarchs. I rather doubt that any of this means the proportion of good-to-bad art has changed much, but it does mean that a kind of broad-based cosmopolitan life that we in the art world enjoyed is being curtailed.

The art world ecosystem is being disrupted, and maybe there are parallels (albeit vague ones) to global warming, the perpetuation of an underclass, and even to Supreme Court rulings that encourage the selling of political power at democracy’s expense. As to whether the introduction of redundant sound effects in audiobook productions is linked to the loss-of-middle, I’m still thinking that over.

Dike Blair is an artist living in New York, represented by Feature Gallery, and a long-time contributor to Purple.

[Table of contents]

F/W 2014 issue 22

Table of contents

purple EDITO

purple NEWS

purple BEST of the SEASON





purple BEAUTY

purple LOVE

purple SEX

purple NIGHT

purple STORY


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