Collective

The Turner Prize-Nominated Art Collective Cooking Sections Wants to Change the Way You Think About Food


These days, aisles of fresh groceries are a savory equivalent to all of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concerti. No matter the time of the year, you’ll find asparagus or kale beaming alongside strawberries and apricots. But it is neither harmonious, nor in keeping with nature. In fact, it makes no sense at all.

Food and its disruptions, histories, and shifts are at the core of the artistic practice of London-based duo Cooking Sections. For Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe, what we eat is a lens through which they see (and try to affect) pressing societal issues. 

“Food is often seen as a cultural construct, but we understand food as a landscape,” Schwabe told Midnight Publishing Group News. “How does food organize our patterns?”

Based in London, the two both come from architecture backgrounds, and have been working together for several years, honing in on the niche, yet ubiquitous, subject matter of what and how we eat, how we relate to food, and how food relates to industry and the climate.

"Cooking

Cooking Sections CLIMAVORE: On Tidal Zones. Photo: Nick Middleton.

Their unique way of working—their long-term projects often target or discuss structural changes and, in some cases, have no specific end date—are an anomaly in the art world. That is the point: to present a challenge to museums’ stacked calendars and time-tested methods. 

The two are finding growing acclaim. While the commercial art business has so far not been a place of focus, the duo have a project presently on view at the Tate, and recently created a project for Serpentine Galleries. They have exhibited at the 12th Taipei Biennial and the 58th Venice Biennale, as well as at Performa 17 and Manifesta 12. They’ve also been shortlisted for this year’s Turner Prize.

Cooking Sections's project on the Isle of Skye.

Cooking Sections’s project on the Isle of Skye.

Beyond Exhibitions

Asking where the two were raised does not garner much of an answer. “We are more interested in speaking about where we are based with our projects, rather than portraying a certain kind of personal narrative,” Schwabe said. (That said, the two met at Goldsmith’s in London and bonded over their shared interest in infrastructure and its impact on nature and society.)

Pascual describes their practice as an “aggregator” of ideas and discussions, one that sits at multiple crossroads. Indeed, their themes often straddle the food industry, economy, politics, and the environment. And because their work focuses on what is most familiar and intimate to us, it is deeply relatable.

On the Isle of Skye in Scotland, for example, Cooking Sections created their first chapter of an ongoing series called “Climavore,” building a meshed metal table that community members can sit at during low tide. Then, when the tide comes up again, the structure transforms into an underwater shelf that can host several local species. Another project, Offsetted, which was on view in 2019 at the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery in New York, questioned the validity of offsetting carbon emissions, which essentially turns trees into cash, making nature, yet again, into an involuntary maintainer of the capitalist economy.

And while their work might come up in an artistic context, it is really only passing through it.

“The art world is supportive to a certain point, but it is hard to say that art is an end place for Cooking Sections,” Schwabe said. “It can be a great springboard, but the project does not end there. Cooking Sections can grow or scale into many different places where life is being constructed and where change is being made.”

<i>The Salmon of Salmom</i>. Photo: Cooking Sections.

The Salmon of Salmom. Photo: Cooking Sections.

The duo have begun to ask museums for long-term commitments and, often, permanent structural changes. “You can’t be ticking boxes—that’s going to go nowhere,” Pascual said. “Systemic change has to happen within institutions, in terms of all the ways in which they operate.”

Schwabe says it can sometimes be a challenge to convince institutions to undertake their ideas and methods. Still, they’ve been largely accepted. “The cultural sector is accustomed to constantly asking what is new,” he said. “But if we are to take environmental questions seriously, we have to be committed to work for 10 years or more on the same issue. It has taken us decades and centuries to annihilate certain species and civilizations. It’s going to take a long time to undo this damage, and we have no time, so it’s a super urgent question.”

Their most recent deep dive was into salmon, a largely farmed species that has very little in common with the salmon one might have hauled out of a cold river a century ago. At Tate, Cooking Sections doused a room in pink lights to wade into the issue. The colors of the installation shift across pinks, following the SalmoFan, a trademarked palette that helps guide salmon farmers on what pellet to feed their salmon (different cultures like different depths of the shade, apparently). Farmed salmon, without being dyed by what its fed, would be grey. 

They are working with the museum to take (and keep) farmed salmon off their menus. Though it opened this spring, the exhibition, which is accompanied by an installation, should have lasting effects.

“One doesn’t need to be an omnivore, a carnivore, a vegetarian, or a vegan, but a climavore,” Schwabe said. The perspective considers consumption and human relationships with food through the reality of a rapidly changing climate.

“How would we eat according to the seasons today? How would we eat in a period of drought? How would we eat from a polluted ocean, when deserts are moving, or when floods or heat waves are happening?”

Cooking Sections's "Salmon: A Red Herring." Tate Britain.

Cooking Sections’s “Salmon: A Red Herring.” Tate Britain. Photo: Lucy Dawkins.

While their work and the information they platform is certainly unsettling—after learning more about farmed salmon, one will find it hard to find the food remotely appealing—it is important, they emphasize, not to create feelings of guilt. “Patterns of consumerism try to induce exactly those kinds of feelings as a mechanism to make us consume more,” Schwabe said. Whether it is fair-trade or organic, these kinds of titlings are largely keeping the same dynamics of supply and demand in place.

The two are grateful for the Turner Prize nomination, which shortlisted only collectives this year. As a duo, they are the smallest one. “We are a different collective than other collectives, and we have a lot to learn from the others, who have more sophisticated and interesting way of operating,” Schwabe said.

They won’t say much about what they are planning for the Turner exhibition, but it sounds like they’ll use the show to continue focusing on their core issues. “It works very well as a platform to amplify what we’re trying to do, and it’s something that, in terms of outreach, goes beyond what a conventional art exhibition could do,” Pascual said.

“How do you transform these platforms?” Schwabe asked. “How do you take them on, rather than saying they should be brought to an end? In the end, that might be the conclusion. But until that happens, there’s work to be done.”

Cooking Sections’s “Salmon: A Red Herring” is on view at the Tate until August 31.

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Art Collective Forensic Architecture Has Teamed Up With Edward Snowden to Investigate a Shadowy Global Spyware Company


Three years ago, Yana Peel abruptly resigned as director of the Serpentine Galleries in London after reports connected her—vis-à-vis her husband’s private equity firm—to NSO Group, a controversial Israeli cybersecurity company known for its flagship spyware that allows users to hack unsuspecting cell phones. Those who have raised alarm about the group describe it as analogous to gun manufacturers prior to U.S. firearm regulations: a weapons merchant operating indiscriminately within a legal system ill-equipped to control it. 

Peel’s relationship to the company, it turned out, was tenuous. (She owns an indirect and passive interest in Novalpina, the investment fund that acquired the NSO Group in 2019, but has had no involvement with the Israeli company.) The Guardian—one of the first publications to report on the director’s alleged involvement—issued a rare retraction saying as much.

And yet Peel’s resignation from the Serpentine represented an important milestone in the 11-year history of the Israeli company, according to Eyal Weizman, founding director of the investigative art collective Forensic Architecture: it marked the first moment of “accountability to any actions related to the NSO Group.”

If Weizman and his group have their way, this instance of accountability likely won’t be the last. This month, Forensic Architecture unveiled its newest project: an interactive platform that charts thousands of instances of so-called “digital violence” tied to the NSO Group—as well as the events, private interests, and other forces that have empowered the company along the way.

It’s part art, part legal resource—one that, like other Forensic Architecture projects, may well be employed as evidence in a courtroom one day. The Turner Prize-nominated research lab has previously trained its eyes on subjects ranging from Russian military activity in Ukraine and U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. The new project is the most comprehensive database ever assembled dedicated to what’s been called the “world’s most notorious surveillance company.”

Rounding out the artsier features of Digital Violence, as the platform is titled, are video investigations narrated by Edward Snowden; interviews with activists, journalists, and lawyers worldwide who have been the subject of targeted hacks; and a sound piece composed by Brian Eno. Laura Poitras, the Academy Award-winning director of Citizenfour, the documentary about Snowden, has also made a short film about the project, which is set to debut at Cannes Film Festival this month. 

Courtesy of Forensic Architecture.

Courtesy of Forensic Architecture.

A missed call or a strange text: these are perhaps the only signs that your phone has been infected by Pegasus, the name of the NSO Group’s signature software, according to Forensic Architecture’s lead researcher Shourideh Molavi. After that, the users on the other end have access to virtually everything on your device—your calls and texts; your passwords and GPS information; your network of friends, family, and colleagues. They can even tap into your camera and microphone, enabling real-time surveillance. This is what Forensic Architecture’s members have dubbed “digital violence.” 

“We’re used to examining missiles, tanks, bullets,” Molavi told Midnight Publishing Group News. “Now, we’re dealing with a kind of state violence that you cannot see, that is difficult to detect…that doesn’t require any agency from the user, and that’s privately funded and sold by a private company. All of these things make for a dangerous package of human rights violations.”

Often, physical violence isn’t far away. What Forensic Architecture’s platform makes clear is that instances of Pegasus-related digital violence are often accompanied by real-world attacks, be it in the form of break-ins, lawsuits, or arrests. In interviews, hacking victims recall the psychological and emotional toll of being infected: they become anxious, have trouble sleeping, and feel like they’re constantly being watched. 

“It’s hard for people to understand how a hack can have physical consequences,” Molavi said. “It’s just your phone, right? But really, it’s your relationships, it’s your family, it’s your feeling of security, it’s your mental health.”

There’s another crucial consideration, too: digital violence transcends geopolitical boundaries. Whereas states can’t exercise judicial power outside the limits of their respective territories, Pegasus gives its users the power to terrorize almost anyone, anywhere, according to numerous reports on the product.  

Despite challenges in court, Israel’s Ministry of Defense continues to grant the NSO Group export licenses; and the company’s corporate structure has allowed it to put its signature product in markets in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and even the United States. NSO has yet to confirm any of its clients, but according to a report from Citizen Lab, Pegasus has been used in at least 45 countries worldwide since 2015. 

Representatives from the NSO Group did not immediately respond to Midnight Publishing Group News’s request for comment, but in a statement to the Washington Post, a spokesperson for the company dismissed Forensic Architecture’s platform.

“These are recycled claims, filled with inaccuracies and half-truths,” the spokesperson said. The company “investigates all credible claims of misuse, and takes appropriate action based on the results of its investigations. This includes shutting down a customer’s system—a step NSO has taken several times in the past, and will not hesitate to take again if a situation warrants.”

For Forensic Architecture and its allies, Digital Violence aims to do what international judicial organizations, traditional press outlets, and other authorities won’t—or can’t. 

During a recent event to inaugurate the platform at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin, where Forensic Architecture is currently included in an exhibition on open-source investigation, Edward Snowden said: “The investigation of not just the NSO group, but this sector and this technology, is the most important unwritten story in media today.”

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NFT Collective Whines Over Cryptopunks Sale, Coveted Young Artist Joins Hauser & Wirth, & More Art-World Gossip


Every week, Midnight Publishing Group News Pro brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops reported and written by Nate Freeman. If you have a tip, email Nate at [email protected]

 

REVENGE OF THE CRYPTO NERDS

Love them or hate them—and believe you me, people do hate them!—NFTs have done one thing that unites disparate parts of the art market: make people rich. Sources said Christie’s owner François Pinault, even as he’s busy opening his new $200 million museum in Paris, has been keeping a watchful eye on the record-breaking sales of tokens, sending his son, Kering C.E.O. François-Henri Pinault, to watch the no-audience sale in person as the only soul in the skybox. (The billionaire’s son is oddly the perfect emissary to check out an NFT sale—he’s a secret tech nerd who decades ago taught himself to code in FORTRAN and COBOL.) 

But there have been some growing pains on both sides as the centuries-old auction house embraces the medium of the future. The house’s lawyers have to grapple with a new kind of rambunctious and uncouth clientele that isn’t used to the old-world mores of the company founded by James Christie in 1766, and currently owned by a luxury goods billionaire.  

Christie's at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Courtesy of Christie's.

Christie’s at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Courtesy of Christie’s.

Most of the time, when someone bids on art at auction, there is a human being on the other end of the telephone. Not so with NFTs—the entities that were registering to bid on a lot like Cryptopunks were often Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, or D.A.O.s, very unofficially organized groups of investors who pool money to buy digital artworks.

Christie’s lawyers were allegedly baffled by the prospect of giving a paddle to an unknowable cohort of ether hoarders. Hypothetically, such investors could be criminals, terrorists, members of military dictatorships, etc. Sources said that, even when a paddle is given to someone potentially shady—say, a member of the Saudi royal family standing in for the crown prince—the auction house can avoid legal issues if the lawyers can vet their identity. Not so with a D.A.O., which gives no information about the numbers or makeup of its membership. 

The Flamingo DAO logo. Courtesy the Flamingo DAO.

But Christie’s made an exception for the Flamingo D.A.O. The legit-looking contingent was incorporated in October 2020, and has since focused solely on buying NFTs—the crew’s Twitter bio calls itself the “Medicis of NFT,” which, I mean, sure. But Flamingo’s air of exclusivity passed muster with the Christie’s council: The D.A.O. limited its number of members to 100 not to run afoul of the S.E.C., and made sure everyone was accredited, meaning they had at least a million bucks in the bank. Members also had to provide their passports and S.S.N.s, meaning—presumably!—no warlords or criminals allowed. 

Not only did Christie’s allow them to bid, but the old-world auction house literally let the barbarians into the gates. Sources said the auction house extended an invitation to a Flamingo D.A.O. member who goes by G Money to take a tour of the sale preview the day before Cryptopunks hit the block. Noah Davis, the Christie’s specialist who became an art-world star overnight by orchestrating the $69 million Beeple sale, personally showed G Money around, hoping to convince the mysterious D.A.O. to bid the lot higher and higher. The anonymous Mr. Money is a known fan of the work—in January, he paid 140 ETH, or $176,000, for a single punk. And as far as we know, he was treated with the utmost respect—he said at the time that the Christie’s brass even referred to him exclusively by his absurd nom de crypto.

Noah Davis. Photo courtesy Christie’s.

But the Ether-rich collector of intangible things later changed his mind. In an unhinged Twitter rant called “How Christies Fucked Up the Punks Auction,” he lashed out at the house for what he saw was an insufficient amount of attention given to the punks in the showrooms. While you can hang a Basquiat or a Haring, you can’t hang a Cryptopunk because… it doesn’t exist. And so the house came up with the idea of installing reproductions of the Punks in semi-hidden high-up places around the rooms, in a sort of reference to the street artist Invader

This did not go over well with our man G Money.

“I wonder why someone might not think a tiny 4″ x 4″ piece tucked randomly in obscure corners is worth anything? You literally had ONE job: Find buyers,” he wrote on Twitter. “If I had no idea what a CryptoPunk was walking into the gallery beforehand, I sure as hell had no clue when I walked out.”

Davis—who’s become quite active on the Punks’ Discord chat channel, despite the self-acknowledged fact that he’s an outsider (his name on Discord is @NoahThePoseur)—wrote back with an thorough apology, explaining the reference to Invader and said he “devised the Easter Egg-stye Punk Hunt as a way to playfully present the Punks as sneaking into Christie’s.

“I know I’m technically a Christie’s suit, but I hope you know how hard I’m trying to be a kind of Punks evangelist from within this 300-year-old corporation,” he said on Discord. 

The whole saga was eventually moot—the winner who paid $17 million in Ether for Cryptopunks was a contingent led by Haralabos Voulgaris, who has since tried to shit-talk your Wet Paint scribe on the internet, with varying degree of success—but it shows that the auction houses will need to bend over backwards to convince the new guard of crypto collectors to buy from them. In his rant, G Money threatened at one point to tell his D.A.O. to buy and sell works through online vendors, where the commission is a fraction of what Christie’s takes. He even threatened to do the worst thing possible: take his business to Sotheby’s

Christie’s declined to comment. G Money did not respond to a DM. 

 

CHRISTINA QUARLES GOES MEGA WITH HAUSER & WIRTH 

Christina Quarles. Courtesy Pilar Corrias, London. Photo: Ilona Szwarc

In late 2019, around the time that a strange virus started making the rounds in the industrial city of Wuhan, the mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth went on a representation tear. Avery Singer, George Condo, Nicole Eisenman, and Henry Taylor all joined the gallery in quick succession in the last few months of 2019 and early 2020. And while new artist announcements, along with everything else, kind of went on pause there for a while in 2020, the Swiss-born mega-gallery is once again adding some of the world’s most illustrious art-makers to its roster. Last fall Frank Bowling came on board, and this spring Hauser added Cindy Sherman and Gary Simmons, two artists who left Metro Pictures, which will close later this year. 

Now, Hauser has another new addition to the stacked roster: Christina Quarles, the 36-year-old phenom who currently has a blockbuster solo show at the MCA Chicago. They’ll rep her alongside her longtime London gallery Pilar Corrias, and the first show is at the New York Hauser space in the Fall of 2022. 

“She is a very strong young painter doing something completely on her own,” Hauser partner Marc Payot said when reached on the phone by Wet Paint to confirm the rumor. “The way she paints the body, with today’s digital tools, between abstraction and figuration, it reminds me of Maria Lassnig, but I also think of Louise Bourgeois. Louise would say, ‘My body is a sculpture,’ and in Cristina’s world that resonates quite a bit.”

Christina Quarles, Casually Cruel. (2018). Photo: Damian Griffiths. © Christina Quarles. Photo courtesy Hauser & Wirth.

The mega-gallery will also represent the artist in Los Angeles, meaning that she’s parting ways with Regen Projects, which added Quarles to the roster in 2018, giving her a show the next year.

(According to Quarles’s CV on the Pilar Corrias site, there is a solo show forthcoming at Regan in 2021, but that may not be happening—Quarles is no longer on the Regan Projects artists roster on its website.)

Christina Quarles, Forced Perspective (And I Kno It’s Rigged, But It’s tha Only Game in Town) (2018). Photo: Brian Forres. © Christina Quarles. Photo courtesy Hauser & Wirth.

And broadly, it means big things for Quarles, one of the few artists who maintained her star-making trajectory throughout the pandemic. At auction she’s broken records again and again, and in December a painting sold for $655,200, nearly six times its high estimate. Her not-that-prolific output means that, on the primary market, only the world’s top collectors get a sniff of the waiting list. Last December, when your Wet Paint scribe was in Miami, we visited the de la Cruz Collection, and upon entering, Rosa de la Cruz lead us straight to a gallery upstairs to show us her most prized new possession: Quarles’s Don’t They Know? it’s the End of tha World (2020). It’s now hanging on the walls of the MCA Chicago. Expect that sort of thing to happen a lot. 

 

POP QUIZ

Last week was too easy! A lot of people knew that the clue was a Josh Smith painting at the awesome Manhattan nightclub Paul’s Baby Grand. People like those paintings so much that someone tried to steal one once.

The first responders were many repeat Pop Quiz winners: Brussels-based curator Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte; collector and patron Scott Lorinsky; Dan Desmond, executive director of the Blue Rider Group at Morgan Stanley; William Leach, a former trusts, estates, and valuations coordinator at Phillips; Sarah Goulet, the owner of Sarah Goulet Communications; Cyprien David, exhibition coordinator at Gagosian Zurich; Krause Co. founder Molly Krause; Darrow Contemporary founder Meredith Darrow; See/Saw founder Ellen Swieskowski; and Andrew Reed, online sales associate at David Zwirner. There were more who got it right, but only the first ten responders get their name in print! Them’s the breaks!

Here’s another chance at Pop Quiz glory: Name the artwork here, its owner, and where it is installed! 

Send guesses to [email protected]. You know the drill. 

 

WE HEAR…

Ignacio Mattos is in talks to run Estela-like restaurants at the forthcoming hotel in the Jarmulowsky Bank Building, the construction project that’s been happening in Dimes Square for nearly a decade … Downs and Ross is opening a project space in Tribeca, not in a storefront but in an honest-to-goodness apartment, on 65 Reade Street … The Los Angeles gallery shared by Mexico City’s House of Gaga and New York’s Reena Spaulings is leaving its longtime MacArthur Park space, which had dreamy views of one of the east side’s cooler lakes … 

Lily Collins, Jeremy O. Harris and Ashley Park on set in Paris. Photo courtesy Instagram stories.

Jeremy O. Harris will be on the new season of Emily in ParisWhite Cube now represents the South African artist Cinga Samson … One of the Andy Warhol NFTs sold at Christie’s for $1.17 million, with bidding coming in at the final seconds Thursday afternoon … Gary Simmons will curate a group survey at Rebecca Camacho Presents, the dealer’s eponymous gallery in San FranciscoThe Bioscleave House, a wild East Hampton estate built by artists Madeline Gins and Arakawa, is back on the market for $975,000 …  Anna Gray, Franklin Parrasch, and Carolyn Ramo are opening a gallery called Airfield at 26 Downs Street in downtown Kingston, New York—it opens Sunday, and it’s around the corner from epically delicious local eatery Lunch Nightly …  The Estate of John Baldessari is now repped globally by Sprüth Magers, along with Mai 36 in Zurich and Galerie Greta Meert in Brussels—but no longer the artist’s longtime dealer during his lifetime, Marian Goodman Gallery in New York … 

Derek Blasberg and his partner, Nick Brown, are now parents to newborn twins, mazel tov! … The next run of the Oscars have been pushed back to March 27, 2022, which means that Larry Gagosian will have to push back his annual Oscars exhibition at the Beverly Hills space (always followed by dinner at Mr. Chow and an after-party at Gago’s Holmby Hills pad) to the Thursday when the art world is halfway around the world in Hong Kong for Art Basel, sigh, the whole circuit’s gonna be screwed up for years … The Instagram account for the HBO Max reboot of Gossip Girl has been placing select members of the media and art community on its Close Friends list in meta-experiment that will mirror the show’s anonymous dish-spreader, but so far the only content they’ve posted is a black screen informing their few Close Friend followers that they’ll read receipts—nice try GG, but you know there’s just one and only source into the scandalous lives of the art world’s elite, you know you love me, XOXO … 

Hey Upper East Siders… Photo courtesy a tipster.

 

SPOTTED

*** A smattering of heavy hitting artists and curators at the opening of Nicola Vassel’s new gallery in Chelsea, including Hank Willis Thomas, David Byrne, Rashid Johnson, Sheree Hovsepian, Fred Eversley, Ming Smith (who has the show at the gallery), Hall Chase, Tschabalala Self, Arthur Jafa, as well as collectors Jeanne Greenberg and Peter Soros *** The downtown scene decamping to Long Island City to celebrate Alex Eagleton’s show at The Journal Gallery with a dinner at Mina’s, the beloved restaurant at MoMA PS1—artists present included Leelee Kimmel, Chloe Wise, Louie Eisner (with his girlfriend, designer Ashley Olsen), Rachel Rossin, all eating delicious food from the master Mina Stone ***

*** Lucien Smith at Casa Cipriani to premiere a new short film made to launch a shoe he designed for Adidas Originals, keep your eyes peeled for a cameo by yours truly *** Takeshi 6ix9ine on Broadway and Broome, just sort of hanging out on a stoop in SoHo, what a town! *** Joan Didion being wheeled around Central Park on a sunny Thursday afternoon *** Collector and rapper Mike D at Atla *** A selection of art and fashion bold names at the rooftop cocktail bar Happy Be, now open high above Tribeca *** D.C. dealer Todd von Ammon, in town for his Catharine Czudej pop up that ran during Frieze, checking out Chinatown hotspot Dr. Clark’s, where writer and publicist Kaitlin Phillips was, intriguingly, carrying around a small painting by Pablo Barba *** The Drunken Canal crew celebrating their new issue with a raucous karaoke night at Winnie’s Saturday ***

Chloe on the jumbotron. Photo courtesy a tipster.

*** Chloë Sevigny and her husband, Karma director Sinisa Mackovic, at the Knicks playoff game Wednesday at the Garden, go New York go New York go! *** Devin Troy Strother celebrating his new show at Broadway gallery with a dinner Saturday at Wu’s Wonton King, which my oenophile friends say is low-key the best BYOB setup in Manhattan—you pick up some dope pét-nat at People’s and enjoy whole giant crabs and suckling pigs, what could be better *** Iwan Wirth in a kilt at his birthday party *** 

PARTING SHOT

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An Art Collective Nominated for the Turner Prize Responds With Biting Criticism of Tate’s ‘Exploitative Practices in Prize Culture’


Just days after being nominated for the Turner Prize by Tate in London, a UK-based art collective has called out the institution for its alleged exploitation of Black and POC artists.

Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.), a queer, trans, intersex, Black people and people of color collective, took to Instagram yesterday to address some of the discrepancies they see between their mission and the way Tate, which oversees the prize, conducts its business.  

“Whilst we are grateful for the recognition for our work as a collective, it is important for us to name some of the inconsistencies as we observe them,” the group in its statement. “We demand the right to thrive in conditions that are nurturing and supportive.”

The group, one of five social practice collectives nominated for the prize last week, called out Tate for a number of recent incidents, including the institution’s cutting of jobs during the pandemic and its handling of a young Black artist’s allegations of sexual harassment against a prominent donor. 

“It is not lost on us that the collective action of workers coming together to save their jobs and livelihoods was not adequately recognized by Tate,” the group said, referring to a 2020 strike by Tate’s retail, catering, and other commercial-services staffers.

The collective also said Tate and institutes like it do not provide artists’ groups with the same resources they offer to solo artists. 

“Although we believe collective organizing is at the heart of transformation, it is evident that arts institutions, whilst enamored by collective and social practices, are not properly equipped or resourced to deal with the realities that shape our lives and work,” the group said.

“We see this in the lack of adequate financial remuneration for collectives in commissioning budgets and artist fees, and in the industry’s in-built reverence for individual inspiration over the diffusion, complexity, and opacity of collaborative endeavor.”

Exemplifying this is the short time frame B.O.S.S. and the other collectives were given to prepare for this year’s Turner exhibition, the group said.

Notified last week, the shortlisted artists’ groups have less than four months to prepare new work for the show, which is set to open at the Herbert Art Museum in Coventry, England, on September 29.

“The urgency with which we have been asked to participate, perform, and deliver demonstrates the extractive and exploitative practices in prize culture, and more widely across the industry—one where Black, brown, working-class, disabled, queer bodies are desirable, quickly dispensable, but never sustainably cared for,” B.O.S.S. wrote. 

“Artists must be free to express themselves and share their views however they wish,” Tate said in a statement shared with Midnight Publishing Group News. “Both the team at the Herbert in Coventry and Tate want the collectives to feel supported and look forward to working with them on the Turner Prize exhibition over coming months.”

Tate said that, given the number of artists involved with the prize this year, it will give shortlisted collectives £10,000 ($14,000) each, as opposed to the normal £5,000 ($7,000) fee that goes to individual nominees. The winners, meanwhile, will take home an additional £25,000 ($35,000). 

Tate did not say whether it has been in touch with B.O.S.S. since the publication of the group’s statement.

Founded in 2018, the 18-member collective stages live events and music workshops in a hybridized, participatory brand of art, activism, and community organizing.

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The Art Collective That Nike Sued for Pouring Human Blood on Its Sneakers Has Agreed to Recall the Shoes


The battle between Nike and the art and design collective MSCHF has finally been settled.

Last month, the collective teamed up with rapper Lil Nas X to release “Satan Shoes,” a series of modified Nike Air Max 97s sneakers with drops of human blood mainlined into the soles. Priced at $1,018 per pair and produced in an edition of 666, the shoes sold out in less than a minute.

But not everyone was a fan—especially not Nike, which sued MSCHF for trademark infringement and was subsequently granted a temporary restraining order against the studio by a U.S. District Court judge. 

Now, as part of an out-of-court settlement with the clothing company, MSCHF will offer to purchase back the sneakers from each buyer at the original price, according to a statement Nike provided to Midnight Publishing Group News. The collective will also offer refunds to those who bought “Jesus Shoes,” a 2019 series of altered Nike Air Max sneakers with holy water from the River Jordan injected into the soles.

Whether or not customers will actually return the shoes is another question. The refund will likely provide little incentive, given the robust resale market. Numerous pairs of Satan Shoes are available on eBay now with price tags ranging from to $3,800 to $6,666.

Further details about the deal were not disclosed, but it effectively ends the lawsuit between the company and the art collective. 

“The parties are pleased to put this dispute behind them,” Nike said in a statement. MSCHF’s lawyer, David H. Bernstein, similarly said his clients were “pleased” with the agreement.

“With these Satan Shoes, MSCHF intended to comment on the absurdity of the collaboration culture practiced by some brands, and about the perniciousness of intolerance,” he said. “Having already achieved its artistic purpose, MSCHF recognized that settlement was the best way to allow it to put this lawsuit behind it so that it could dedicate its time to new artistic and expressive projects.”

Calling the shoes “works of art that [that] represent the ideals of equality and inclusion,” Bernstein added that the lawsuit “brought extraordinary publicity” to MSCHF and its artistic message.

Bernstein’s firm similarly declined to share any further details about the settlement.

MSCHF’s Satan Shoes were released on Friday, March 26—the eve of Holy Week—and coincided with the release of Nas X’s music video for his song Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” in which the rapper reimagines biblical scenes through a queer lens.

In one scene, he descends into hell on a stripper pole before giving the devil a lewd lap dance. The video has since been viewed over 100 million times on Youtube, while the song has posted similar numbers on Spotify. 

On MSCHF’s website, a link to the Satan Shoes project now leads to the collective’s statement on the dispute with Nike.

“Satan Shoes started a conversation, while also living natively in its space,” the statement says. “It is art created for people to observe, speculate on, purchase, and own. Heresy only exists in relation to doctrine: who is Nike to censor one but not the other?”

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