How to Be a Revolutionary Artist
On Jacques-Louis David, urban planning in outer space, rejecting white comfort, and more
April 21, 2022
In this week’s issue of Public Seminar . . .
Mitch Abidor examines the legacy of Jacques-Louis David, the artist who painted the Jacobite movement and helped craft the French Revolution. “Everything in France had to be made new, from the form of government to the calendar, and David’s designs for republican costumes revealed much about the meeting of art and politics during the Revolutionary period.” (April 18, 2022)
“Is the Earth something that should be totally optimized to support as many living humans as possible? Or is it a place that should be more like a park that should be depopulated, maybe via an exodus to other worlds? Of course, the assumptions behind the idea of a park or wilderness can be problematic, but they must all be part of a planetary imagination.” Architect Fred Scharmen chats with Emma Celebrezze about outer space and designing the future. (April 19, 2022)
Journalist Mychal Denzel Smith talks to Erica Marrison about the ramifications of mainstream media and refusing to pander to white comfort. “Look, my inbox fills up when a Black person has been shot by the police. My inbox fills up when someone says the N- word somewhere. But there’s less interest if I wanted to explore Black culture in ways that are just about my own understanding.” (April 20, 2022)
What Is Sacred?
Paddy Gilger shares how the Catholic group Community of Sant’Egidio is organizing a transnational response to the global migration crisis. “In each location, Sant’Egidio members make it a habit to become friends with those the city has discarded, particularly those who make their homes in bus shelters, train stations, and urban backstreets. Friendship with the homeless, I found, reshapes the “sensorium” of Sant’Egidio members—it induces in them a new way of seeing and hearing that can then permit a global imagination.” (April 18, 2022)
With or without religious tradition, we can all agree that water is essential to life, Simona Perry reasons. But when the Supreme Court granted an “emergency” order on April 6 to limit the reach of the Clean Water Act, they ceded the right to water to a powerful coalition of developers. “These parties believe that developers seeking to construct pipeline infrastructure, hydropower facilities, mines, and other development projects should not have to respond to water protection issues raised by local communities, landowners, state environmental agencies, and Tribal governments.” (April 19, 2022)
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Race and the Classroom
The day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., schoolteacher Jane Elliott attempted to teach her third-grade class in rural Iowa about the impact of racism via an experiment: she instructed the brown-eyed children to bully the children with blue eyes. “If eyes, no matter their color, are windows to the soul, then Elliott had given herself the almighty ability to peer into twenty-eight souls that morning. She had become instigator and witness to a nightmare about to unfold,” explains Stephen G. Bloom, in an excerpt from his book Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes: A Cautionary Tale of Race and Brutality (University of California Press, 2021). (April 20, 2022)