weekend links: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ottessa Moshfegh, The American Dream

Tom Kiefer,  Pink Combs and Brushes  (2012)

Tom Kiefer, Pink Combs and Brushes (2012)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in the New York Democratic primary this week is occasion for celebration: her grassroots campaign, her membership with the Democratic Socialists of America, her youth and her gender excite voters who feel that she more adequately represents and rallies for their concerns and identities. Part of the cause for this success must be attributed to her campaign posters, which worked to highlight her “nontraditional identity for a nontraditional campaign.” In this interview, the designers behind Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign posters discuss designing for a hyphenated last name, constructing entirely bilingual posters, and the surprising choice to use yellow. [n+1]

If a pair of glasses is put in a museum, and a bunch of people are there to see it, is it art? In this essay, Alina Cohen explores the tradition of the readymade; the work of Jason Dodge, Darren Bader, and Haim Steinbach; and a prank pulled by a teenager at SFMOMA to interrogate the ongoing question of what makes art art. “Ultimately, can we consider the pair of eyeglasses dropped on the floor of SFMOMA’s galleries to be art?” she asks. “For a moment, as they found an audience, perhaps they were.” [Artsy]

How can we achieve an inclusive, diverse society when it is designed almost exclusively by cis men? Alice Rawsthorn’s book, Design as an Attitude, digs into the boys' club legacy of the world of design and the structures in place that maintain this construction. In this excerpt from her book, Rawsthorn points out the skewed showcasing of cis male designers in contemporary design magazines, and expresses hope that new technological disciplines will bring change and opportunity for women and genderqueer designers. [It’s Nice That]

New York Times arts editor M.H. Miller reminds us of the tremendous sacrifice required for people of ordinary means to achieve anything resembling success in today’s predatory economic system in this harrowing piece about losing everything in the Great Recession. Ten years later, even working as an editor for The New York Times, Miller lives paycheck to paycheck, paying off the endless debt that we now take as a coming-of-age ritual for American youth. [The Baffler]

The International Workshop on Emoji Understanding and Applications in Social Media held its first meeting this week, where academics and researchers gathered to discuss all sorts of implications of this modern form of expression. Is it a new language? A destruction of language? Written gesture? What about when emojis have different meanings across cultures, settings, in different online forums? Can they be used as evidence in a legal context? [insert pensive emoji face here] [Wired]

“Since age five, all of life has been like a farce, an absurd performance of a reality based on meaningless drivel, or a devastating experience of trauma and fatigue, deep with meaning, which has led me into such self-seriousness that I often wonder if I am completely insane. Can you relate at all?” Ottessa Moshfegh writes in a fake letter to Donald Trump. Ariel Levy profiles Moshfegh, exploring the life and past that surrounds the author of the titular, notorious, female antihero of Eileen, as well as the novels McGlue, and most recently, My Year of Rest and Relaxation. [The New Yorker]

The rare book trade, and what is deemed worthy of collecting and valuing, has undergone immense changes, particularly since the intervention of the Internet. However, it traditionally has been, and remains, a man’s auction, with the highest price tags attached to works by Joyce, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Hemingway and bought and sold, primarily, by men. With the rise in number of women collectors and booksellers, the market’s focus has shifted somewhat to include more works by women, though the bulk of the money still lies in the hands of male dealers. “We need more women collecting because it creates a diversity of taste. We also need more people collecting women.” [The Paris Review]

Oral Hygiene, Soap, Gloves, Condoms, Toy Car Pile-Up: these are just some of the titles of Tom Kiefer’s photographs that comprise El Sueño Americano. Kiefer worked as janitor at the Customs and Border Protection center in Why, Arizona for more than 10 years, during which period he collected and photographed thousands of items that Border Patrol confiscated from undocumented migrants crossing the border from Mexico to America. The items would end up in trash bins he was tasked with disposing of. Kiefer began the photo series El Sueño Americano, which translates to “The American Dream,” in 2007; here he talks about some of the standouts from the 600-photograph collection. [The New York Times]

“They tried to bury us; they didn’t know we were seeds.” This phrase has been invoked most recently by Families Belong Together protesters and by Mexican activists in support of the Ayotzinapa 43, though it has a long and wide-ranging history of use. Greek media scholar Alexandra Boutopoulou traces the origins of this phrase to a poem by Dinos Christianopoulous, written in 1978, allegedly in response to the Greek literary community that criticized his work. Though the words have grown to stand for larger issues, and in a variety of contexts, at its root the message is still one of resilience, progression, and strength in the face of dominating power. [Hyperallergic]

Juliet Gelfman-Randazzo