A Letter from the Editor

by Danny Kopel Spring 2011

Dear Visitor,

Read on to find a whole new Artwrit. We remain committed to the spirit of our quarterly—intelligent discourse on art and culture—but have launched a digest of monthly reviews, interviews and profiles to reflect the fullest range of today’s cultural production. We are excited about this new publication—the monthly—which allows us to respond to art and ideas in the moment, as they occur and as they are first made visible to the public. Also new is our Oral History Initiative of which you’ll see just the seed of a living archive that will over time amass conversations with artists, curators, critics and other notable artworld figures in an effort to document, via audio recordings and their transcripts, the fleeting cultural present and past.

This expanded coverage, for all its potential to account for a broader survey of the art world, matters little if we do not consider the sociopolitical framework in which it unfolds. Ai WeiWei’s whereabouts remain unknown after the artist was arrested at Beijing airport on April 3 for “incomplete departure procedures” and later, alleged economic crimes. The repercussions Ai has endured in the past for his open criticism of the Chinese government and the political slant of his work point to other, saliently withheld reasons for his detention. At a time when free expression has manifested worrying consequences, Artwrit’s expansion – which is born of the desire to articulate more and with greater frequency and ease—stands in sharp relief against the sweeping oppression of which Ai is but one victim.

I would be wary to level the political circumstances that have, in the eyes of the Chinese authorities, rendered Ai a voice to be silenced with our own panorama in the United States. I cite, however, the controversial removal of a video work by David Wojnarowicz from the Hide and Seek exhibit in Washington, DC last November at the hands of Smithsonian secretary Wayne Clough; outrage ensued. The image of ants crawling on a crucifix struck a bad chord with certain conservative politicians and the Catholic League, and the gay artist’s untimely death due to complications from AIDS in 1992, many suspect, drove deeper their disapproval. And thus we are presented with a disquieting prospect. Our awareness raised by these developments, we vow to press on, defiantly articulate.

Begin,

Daniel Kopel
Editor-in-Chief | Founder
Artwrit