The Jacobsons Journey

When Manny Jacobson was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2002, his wife, Lin, made it her goal to bring him to a museum every day for the rest of their lives.“We have always been active culturally, so we [didn’t] need to stop doing that,” Lin Jacobson said. “In fact, there’s a big need to continue.”

Thanks to programs such as The Jewish Museum’s JM Journeys, a once-a-month gallery tour and studio art workshop for people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s, the Jacobsons, as well as many others affected by these diseases, have been able to continue visiting and enjoying museums. These  programs which are also offered by the Met, MoMA, the Rubin, and many other cultural institutions, are designed to help participants interact with art in a stress-free way.

Ms. Jacobson specifically praised The Jewish Museum for having its access programs—or programs for people with disabilities—on Wednesdays, when the Museum is closed to the public. “We don’t have to battle the crowds, and there are places to sit and discuss the work of art,” she said. “That’s important.”

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Jack Goldstein and The Art of Disappearing

“Hey, I’m over here, I’m over here.”  These are the words Jack Goldstein wanted you to hear. “That’s what my paintings have always been about,” he told artist and writer Meg Cranston in a May 2001 interview in Venice, California. “I’ve always been screaming that through my work.”

Jack Goldstein wanted to be seen. To be noticed. Fears that he would not leave a lasting legacy haunted him, and he was never too afraid to admit it. When asked by Cranston if his drive as an artist was born out of his fears, he unashamedly replied, “That’s the only reason I did it. That’s the only reason I went to New York and did it. It was to prove [my existence.]”

Goldstein wanted to prove his existence, his worth, his humanity through his art. He wanted to come alive on the canvas, become recognized for his talent and make himself impossible to ignore. And he seemed ready to fight in order to achieve his lofty goals. “I had to fight for the right to make it. Because it’s not a given,” he told Cranston. “You fight for the right to make art. It’s frightening but it’s true.” Click to continue »

Exploring Primary Structures through the Archives

As the Shoshanna Wingate Curatorial Intern, my main project was to reconstruct the floorplan and checklist from the 1966 exhibition Primary Structures, one of the most significant and innovative shows presented at  The Jewish Museum. Primary Structures was one of the first shows that officially defined a new trend in sculpture – Minimalism. The curator, Kynaston McShine, invited 44 then emerging (many now legendary) sculptors from the U.S. and U.K. It included such names as Tony Smith and Anthony Caro to younger, more emerging artists mostly in their 30s. Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and Sol Lewitt were among them and are now considered key figures of Minimalism. I spent a good deal of time during my internship period mining materials from the Museum’s Archive and Visual Resource Center.

Time-traveling to the 60s through the Archive

archival file foldersAfter an exhibition is over, relevant documents are filed in boxes and sent to the archives. The Jewish Museum Archive began with its 1947 inaugural exhibit The Giving of the Law and the Ten Commandments, and includes materials for every exhibition The Museum has ever presented to date. Leafing through the black and white photographs of the installation, negatives, numerous copies of correspondences between artists and curators, and various documents was like time-travelling back to the 60s. Glimpsing at the photos of the opening reception, it was fun recognizing established artists when they were very young. Click to continue »

Who Owns What in the Digital Age

Marc Adelman’s Stelen (Columns) (2007–11) was included in The Jewish Museum exhibition Composed: Identity, Politics, Sex (Dec. 23, 2011–June 30, 2012). The work comprises a set of photographs Adelman found on a gay dating website. Following a published review of the exhibition, the Museum received complaints from several people whose profile pictures were featured in Stelen. Their comments focused on privacy issues—the inclusion of their images in the artwork without their consent—and the possibility that as a result of being depicted publicly in the work they might be subject to significant anti-gay backlash. (See statement.) We have invited Marc Adelman and a range of experts to address some of the complex issues raised by the artwork.

If you would like to provide a response to any of these contributions, please do so in the comments section. We will select a representative sampling of responses for publication here. Anonymous responses will not be eligible for publication.

What are the ethical concerns for artists who appropriate images from the Internet? To what extent should artists consider privacy, the personal safety of their subjects, and First Amendment rights?

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Penelope Umbrico

Penelope Umbrico’s photo-based installations, video, and digital media works explore the ever-increasing production and consumption of images on the Internet. She has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship among other awards, and her monograph, Penelope Umbrico (photographs), was published by Aperture in 2011.

Penelope UmbricoThere are so many ways one could address your questions, but one thing that is important to this kind of artistic practice is the distinction between personal images and collective images and an understanding of how the subject in images shifts from the personal to collective depending on the context of their use. The specificity of an individual in an image, as well as the subject of that image, can change once the image crosses the threshold between personal digital space and the World Wide Web. Seen in the context of, say, a Google Image search, any image, no matter how personal or intimate, is unassignable and anonymous. Click to continue »

Marvin Heiferman

Curator and writer Marvin Heiferman originates projects about photographs, imaging, and visual culture. His most recent book is Photography Changes Everything (2012).

Marvin HeifermanAs clear as photographs may be, their use can turn unruly. One example: Marc Adelman’s Stelen (2007–11), an installation of 50 appropriated snapshots on view at The Jewish Museum before being withdrawn last summer. At issue: photos of men posing among the pillars of Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial used as their profile pictures on GayRomeo.com, a European social community and dating site. The problem: like so many digital images that won’t stay put, as their context changed so did their meaning and impact. Click to continue »

Paddy Johnson

Paddy Johnson is the founding Editor of Art Fag City and the Arts Editor for The L Magazine. She has also been published in New York Magazine, The Economist, and The Guardian. Johnson lectures internationally about art and the Internet.

Paddy JohnsonWhat do men who post pictures of themselves in front of Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial want to tell potential partners? There are probably as many answers to this question as there are profile pictures of this ilk, of which there appears to be a surprising number. We know this thanks to Marc Adelman’s Stelen (Columns), an art installation comprised of 50 photos that were found on the gay dating site PlanetRomeo. It’s Europe’s answer to Man Hunt. Click to continue »

Patricia Williams

Patricia Williams is the James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University. She authors the column “Diary of a Mad Law Professor” for The Nation Magazine and maintains a blog at www.madlawprofessor.wordpress.com.

Patricia J. WilliamsMarc Adelman’s montage Stelen is filled with “cruel harmonies and stimulating rhythms,” as Edgard Varese described Stravinsky’s 1913 debut of The Rite of Spring. On the surface, the mounting and subsequent removal of Stelen by The Jewish Museum raises questions about expectations of privacy on the Internet, censorship, fair use, appropriation, commodification, and the failure to procure the consent of the men pictured, particularly given that they are citizens of many countries, some of whose laws and customs make the risk of “outing” a deadly one. Still, the law is a dull guide to the deeper, harder questions of aesthetics, the patrolling of sexuality, sacrilege, and art.  Click to continue »

Oliver Wasow

Oliver Wasow is a photographer whose work often incorporates images found on the Internet. In 2012, his work was included in “Faking it: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Oliver WasowIt’s difficult to talk about on-line privacy without first acknowledging that the very idea is a fallacy. Regardless of what the law says, regardless of what agreements have been signed, and regardless of what we might prefer to believe, when an image enters the flow of data on the web, it is, by the very nature of the medium, no longer private. As photography makes the transition from the world of objects to one of free-floating information, it becomes the sole responsibility of a picture’s original owner to understand this. Those owners are the gatekeepers, and they alone are responsible for the consequences of cutting the ties of ownership. Click to continue »

Marc Adelman

Marc Adelman is a visual artist based in San Francisco. His work in video, installation, and performance often employs the use of appropriated footage and images as a means of examining the cultural history of HIV and AIDS and queer memorialization.

Marc AdelmanIf there ever was a semblance of privacy during the early days of the Internet, it was a tenuous one at best. Over the course of the last fifteen years, there has been a persistent disconnect between activity carried out online and the ostensible privacy that surrounds such activity. Longing for the last bastion of a “private life” online is at best an archaic gesture. The intimate minutiae that make up our lives are, to various degrees, out in plain sight and can be tracked down whether or not we like it. Furthermore, laboring under the assumption that one might momentarily escape the ubiquity of digitization simply by strolling down the street or riding public transportation is a gross misunderstanding of how we currently live. Click to continue »