Dear Profoundly Above It All, Patronizingly Virtue-Signalling Gatekeepers:
We know you want us to think you mean well, and of course we supposedly rejoice that this Era of Social Engineering would appear to reverse the trend of a few centuries of hiding Colored and/or Female and/or non-Cis faces in the barn, coal cellar, kitchen and woodpile. Random selections from famously oppressed Human categories (each individual often representing a part of the world that the NeoLiberal Project is interested in milking; eg, Haiti or mineral-rich African territories, et al) are hitting various jackpots in big ticket Literature, and the Arts, like never before. Better than nothing, I guess, if .0000001% of us can suddenly pay rent, afford adequate health care and wear nice shoes to funerals. But couldn’t you narrow the selection of such beneficiaries, of your write-off-able largess, to people who deserve it? To people with Talent, I mean? Like, just fucking once?
Couldn’t you give The Booker Prize to a Writer of Color who can actually write? Couldn’t you give a Pulitzer, or a McArthur Fellowship “Genius” Grant, to a Black, Brown, Mocha, Taupe, Sienna, Umber, Bisque, Butterscotch, Tan, Anthracite, Khaki, Ochre, Sepia or Ebony Writer of actual genius, who can writer better than, say, a precocious High School sophomore? Can you please put a talented Painter of Color on that Turner Prize Short List… ?
“Tonight at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, at a gala dinner toasting the opening of the 57th edition of the Carnegie International, the winners of the exhibition’s prizes were announced, with Lynette Yiadom-Boakye taking home the Carnegie Prize and Postcommodity the Fine Prize. Each award comes with $10,000, and the Carnegie Prize also includes a medal, designed by Tiffany & Co., that has been presented to each of its winners since the exhibition was founded in 1896.”
“In 2006, Yiadom-Boakye won The Arts Foundation Fellowship for Painting. In 2012, she won the Pinchuk Foundation Future Generation Prize. In 2013, Yiadom-Boakye was shortlisted for the Turner Prize for her exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery in 2012.”
Imagine stumbling upon Lynette Yiadom-Boakye shitty oeuvre one Sunday afternoon at some small town’s Art Fair. Would you be surprised to see it there? Would you say to yourself, “my God, what are these masterful examples of sublime draftsmanship and witty, accomplished brushwork doing here?” Or would say, “Ha. They want $25 for this amateurishly muddy bullshit? Are they kidding? My Daughter when she was 8 could… (and so forth)?”
Clearly, this did not.
Clearly, this is the work of an accomplished drafts(wo)man.
Clearly, this is not.
Clearly, this is the work of a visionary Artist with a fearless social consciousness.
Clearly this is not.
This is the work of a High School Student you’ve never heard of.
This is Emperor’s New Clothesism at its NYering worst.
We know all too well, Massas, that you don’t give a damn how much damage you’re doing to Duh Masses’ Culture, and that Culture’s perception of Lit and Art, or even to People of Color as a perceived group, only serving to further aggravate how all the other Serfs (our brothers and sisters in Serfdom) see us as Lazily Parasitical, Wholly Undeserving Dependants on Affirmative Action’s Pity Prizes. All you care about is burnishing the Public Image of your suavely rapacious Institutions and providing pseudo-Progressive Cover for bloody escapades around the planet (every hapless Haitian Writer you crown will distract from a thousand you starve to death, no?). You want NYer readers and Salon Subscribers and NYT crossword devotees to think: “Well how bad can we be, really, if poor little Black Person X just won big Fat culture Prize Y?” We get that.
We also get that in your private (really private) clubs and boardrooms you make as many racist jokes as ever, and mock the clueless nouveau riche who clamor to pay absurd amounts to stock their brownstones and McMansions with the intrinsically worthless “art” you have anointed with kinder, gentler Bushite cynicism. Hey, maybe you even want to kill off ART and LIT, eventually, by sending bizarre signals, to future generations, about what we value, culturally, most… the hard work of nurturing Talent or the hapless predestinies of Identity?
Let this painting*, below, from Lynette Yiadom-Boakye‘s slapdash oeuvre, accuse you with its pathetic fucking Art Fair eyes.
Then compare it to THIS.**
*(soon to be worth more than you earn in a year, Serfs)
**Be honest: just about every “high school student portrait” I link to is better than the Turner Short-Lister’s work.
ADDENDUM: Compare the image directly above to the one linked below: they’re not terribly dissimilar, Talent-wise, are they? Would you laud the one below? Would you laud it after discovering who painted it….? Guess. Guess who painted it. Guess the Genius who painted it. Go on…