Refusing to Be Fed

From our sister publication Art Practical, today we bring you Vivian Sming’s article from issue 8.3: Art can’t do anything if we don’t. The issue takes its name from Sming’s article, where she states, “Raising these questions is not to say that we don’t need art, or that art can’t do anything at all, but rather that art is not exceptional. Art can’t do anything if we don’t. We cannot fail to recognize when and how artists participate in an exploitative market, which does not only include commercial galleries and auction houses, but also museums, nonprofits, and academic institutions.” This article was originally published on March 23, 2017.

Screenshot, @age103, Instagram post.

Screenshot, @age103, Instagram post.

In the days following the 2016 presidential election, a seed of instinctual fear was planted and lodged within me. I live in a suburban neighborhood that is mostly White, in close proximity to a large and diverse immigrant population. As soon as all the votes were counted, I looked up the results within my precinct, and found that 25 percent were votes for Trump. While this is certainly a minority, I became obsessed over the fact that this percentage accounted for over 200 people—200 of my neighbors. Indeed, the personification of these very percentages are how the cracks between family, friends, and neighbors start to emerge.

The first week following the inauguration pushed me further to the edge, bringing me closer to survivalist thinking. With the signing of each executive order, I weighed my fight-or-flight options. As diplomatic relationships corroded, I almost too casually browsed NUKEMAP, a site that displays the detonation radius of different nuclear bombs that are known to exist on Google Maps. I mulled over our past as humans, and felt as if thousands of years of history had been compressed and brought into the present. I had always thought (and have had the privilege of thinking) of history as a document of the past—events that had happened that we, as a society, were progressing away from. However, history is not a record of the past; it is evidence of future possibilities, showing us who we are capable of being and what we are capable of doing, in all the horror and glory.

Read the full article here.