The Easel

11th February 2020

At the ICA, rescuing an art star from the auction frenzy

Spotting a hot new artist is easy – reviews overuse the word ‘amazing’ and fascinate about auction prices. Self is one such artist, having gone from student to ‘somebody’ in about five years. Her work features ‘aspirational representations’ of Black females. Says she “For individuals who have been made to feel marginalized … images, and aesthetics become landmarks for self-identification and self-esteem.” And the auctions? “Tasteless”.

What Do We Want History to Do to Us?

More on Kara Walker’s monumental fountain, currently in London. What do we want from public art? “To memorialise”. Yes, but memorialise whom, whose history and which memories? “Public art claiming to represent our collective memory is just as often a work of historical erasure and political manipulation. Monuments are complacent; they put a seal upon the past, they release us from dread.”