Takedown: Art and Power in the Digital Age (Hardcover)
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Farah Nayeri addresses the difficult questions plaguing the art world, from the bad habits of Old Masters, to the current grappling with identity politics.
For centuries, art censorship has been a top-down phenomenon--kings, popes, and one-party states decided what was considered obscene, blasphemous, or politically deviant in art.
Today, censorship can also happen from the bottom-up, thanks to calls to action from organizers and social media campaigns. Artists and artworks are routinely taken to task for their insensitivity. In this new world order, artists, critics, philanthropists, galleries and museums alike are recalibrating their efforts to increase the visibility of marginalized voices and respond to the people’s demands for better ethics in art.
But what should we, the people, do with this newfound power?
With exclusive interviews with Nan Goldin, Sam Durant, Faith Ringgold, and others, Nayeri tackles wide-ranging issues including sex, religion, gender, ethics, animal rights, and race.
By asking and answering questions such as: Who gets to make art and who owns it? How do we correct the inequities of the past? What does authenticity, exploitation, and appropriation mean in art?, Takedown provides the necessary tools to navigate the art world.
About the Author
Farah Nayeri is an arts and culture writer for the New York Times and host of the CultureBlast podcast. Originally from Iran, she lives and works in London. Nayeri began her journalism career in Paris as a reporter for Time magazine and a contributor to The Wall Street Journal. She later became a correspondent of Bloomberg in Paris, Rome and London, covering politics and economics, then culture. Nayeri is a public speaker and panel moderator, regularly chairing conferences for the New York Times and for institutions in Europe. She is a classically trained pianist and a devotee of flamenco dance.
"Beautifully written, thoughtful and thought provoking, relevant to our times."
—Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran
"An eye-opening look at how contemporary political issues find their ways into the hushed halls of museums and galleries."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Farah Nayeri’s Takedown, about art and power in the digital age, is a timely book that is uniquely brilliant. The author, backed up by facts, maps out the crazy madness of our current art world which to a great degree reflects today’s extreme capitalism. In a clear and succinct manner, she unravels the giant game of power, money, and competition ingrained in cultural institutions, where issues of individual freedom, gender and religion are at play. The book is easy to read, interesting, and observant. In its conclusion, the author quotes Alice Procter’s answer to the question of how soon a changing of the guard in the art world will happen, 'I think some people have to die' – a fittingly controversial language."
— Ai Weiwei
"Farah Nayeri’s book is the most complete discussion to date of the impact of Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and 'cancel culture' on the visual arts – in the US, Britain, and France. It includes fascinating and illustrative examples, and concludes with a convincing argument as to why museums should show not only great historical art, but also new, untested art – from all communities. A must-read for every museum director."
— Don Thompson, author of The $12 Million Stuffed Shark and The Orange Balloon Dog.