Weekend Reading

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Roger Fenton. Valley of The Shadow of Death. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.

After some Friday night hectoring about exhibition making from someone fired up by Susan Sontag – “in place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art” – I saw this Bookforum piece on Sontag’s diaries. The usual stuff. But it reminded me of something I wanted to read again. It’s close to ten years since filmmaker Errol Morris tackled  Sontag’s accusation that Roger Fenton faked one of his most well-known photographs in a fascinating investigation for the New York Times. You’ll need some time to work through it, coming in three substantial episodes: Part One, Part Two, Part Three. Morris runs the gamut of what you can do (and the time you can spend) in thinking over a photograph, or two in this case.

Canada celebrates 150 years since its founding this week, however with some pause for thought for its indigenous cultures. David Balzer at Canadian Art writes on Canada’s settler-colonial kitsch and Adam Gopnik at the The New Yorker contemplates the foundation of the United States by comparison.

The Walker Art Centre is at the centre of another quagmire, this time around the Jimmy Durham retrospective. Hyperalleric has a good summary while the comments at Jezebel are quite ride.

And working as I do with kinetic sculpture this piece was a pleasant find this week – on the museum activators of Alexander Calder’s work. Add to that Jean-Paul Satre’s 1947 essay on Calder’s work for ARTnews.