For centuries, art censorship has been a top-down phenomenon--kings, popes, and one-party states decided what was considered obscene, blasphemous, or politically deviant in art.
Today, censorship can also happen from the bottom-up, thanks to calls to action from organizers and social media campaigns. Artists and artworks are routinely taken to task for their insensitivity. In this new world order, artists, critics, philanthropists, galleries and museums alike are recalibrating their efforts to increase the visibility of marginalized voices and respond to the people’s demands for better ethics in art.
But what should we, the people, do with this newfound power?
With exclusive interviews with Nan Goldin, Sam Durant, Faith Ringgold, and others, Nayeri tackles wide-ranging issues including sex, religion, gender, ethics, animal rights, and race.
By asking and answering questions such as: Who gets to make art and who owns it? How do we correct the inequities of the past? What does authenticity, exploitation, and appropriation mean in art?, Takedown provides the necessary tools to navigate the art world.
"Farah Nayeri’s Takedown, about art and power in the digital age, is a timely book that is uniquely brilliant. The author, backed up by facts, maps out the crazy madness of our current art world which to a great degree reflects today’s extreme capitalism. In a clear and succinct manner, she unravels the giant game of power, money, and competition ingrained in cultural institutions, where issues of individual freedom, gender and religion are at play. The book is easy to read, interesting, and observant. In its conclusion, the author quotes Alice Procter’s answer to the question of how soon a changing of the guard in the art world will happen, 'I think some people have to die' – a fittingly controversial language." — Ai Weiwei
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Average rating from 2 members
Takedown by Farah Nayeri is a clearly written assessment of how living in today's digital age has, and continues to, affect the art world. Namely who is shown and even more often who is purchased. This book uses the history of art, who has been neglected and who is now gaining some visibility, to show how it is no longer possible for the traditional gatekeepers to maintain a biased hold on the entire art world. While awareness is certainly part of it, through movements such as #metoo and Black Lives Matter, the capitalistic aspect is also a big part. Artists are able to gain some recognition as well as income through channels other than museums and galleries. Both the movements and the money flowing outside the established art hierarchy have forced the gatekeepers to be open to more artists and more types of art. I personally found the history every bit as fascinating as the changes that are taking place. I am glad Nayeri didn't just concentrate on new controversies since even they are part of a continuum that extends into the past. The digital elements are included throughout the book, though they are brought together at the end when a possible future is considered. A very interesting read for both art historians as well as the casual art lover who wants to better understand where we have been and where we (hopefully) are going. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.