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‘Midsommar’ director Ari Aster’s viral beginnings and creative glow up

Ari Aster, most known for his 2018 horror film Hereditary, wrote and directed six short films before his big-screen debut. It was all in preparation for his upcoming film Midsommar.

Still, before you dive right into his new flick, that comes out July 2, know that the NYC-born director has come a long way to arrive at the critical acclaim he’s received for his perspective on the horror genre.

It’s hard for one to not notice the come up. Recently, Get Out director Jordan Peele praised Aster for his directorial brilliance and even described Midsommar as “the most idyllic horror film of all time” in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

So, we had to put you on and let you recognize the creative glow up. Here are three shorts from the mind of Aster to check out before heading to theaters.

The Strange Thing About the Johnsons  (2011)

This film was Aster’s first foray into troubled family dynamics, as well as the first short of his to go viral due to its shocking subject matter: The Strange Thing About the Johnsons is centered upon the sexual abuse a father suffers under the hands of his son.

Taking inspiration from directors like David Lynch, Aster explores the seedy underbelly of suburban life, in which every character is willing to turn a blind eye to just about everything in order to maintain the air of perfect, white-picket, normality.

People were mostly shocked by Aster’s decision to put an African American family as the center of such a controversial story. As a white director, Aster said that the fact that the family in The Strange Thing About the Johnsons is black was purely coincidental, as he set forward in making the film with the mindset of casting his good friend Brandon Greenhouse as the son.

Aster elaborated upon the implications of this decision with Filmmaking Magazine, saying:

“The color of the family in that film was strictly incidental… but it would be disingenuous to say that the film is totally color blind. That question alone became really interesting to me: Is it OK for a white guy to make a film about black people that isn’t about their blackness, that isn’t in any way patronizing, and that skirts politics but at the same time is an ugly portrait of humanity? Can you do that without being political?”

With The Strange Thing About the Johnsons, Aster is trying to communicate the universal nature of trauma in the context of the family unit. Like in Hereditary, paralyzing suffering is something that can be passed down no matter the circumstance it is presented in.

Writing for Huffington Post, abuse survivor Malcolm Harris emphasized the importance of The Strange Thing as Aster’s debut into the filmmaking world, writing:

“Mr. Aster had struck movie making gold by becoming equal parts relevant, provocative and most importantly, polarizing.”

Munchausen  (2015)

Munchausen or The Trouble with Mom, was formally released as a Vice short in 2015. This is a silent, Disney/Pixar-esque exploration of a mother willing to do anything to keep her son from going to college and leaving the family home. Munchausen is titled after the syndrome of the very same name.

Munchausen syndrome is a mental illness in which a person acts as if they have a physical/mental disorder when they have really caused all their own symptoms. In Munchausen, the mother has what is called Munchausen by proxy (MSBP), in which a caregiver makes up or causes illness in someone under their care.

Stories concerning people with MSBP and those affected recently has had a surge in popular attention with series like The Act and Sharp Objects. Seeing as Aster made this well before either premiered, it seems as though he was ahead of the curve.

It seems obvious that Aster the same brain behind The Strange Thing About the Johnsons and Hereditary would tackle a film with this kind of subject matter.

Munchausen examines what it means to purposefully (and permanently) hurt the ones you love most in order to fulfill selfish desires, as well as the very real capability we all have to do so.

C’est La Vie (2016)

In 2016, Ari Aster released two shorts which he called his “portrait series.” These shorts feature characters directly speaking to the camera as if the audience was just another character in their world.

C’est La Vie is the second film of the series, and what I personally believe to be the most luminous.

It follows a homeless man, Chester Crummings, played by Bradley Fisher, as he delivers a disjointed tirade against life in Los Angeles and then America as a whole.

The most incredible gradient that comes with the progression of Crummings’s story is the steady decline in the frantic nature of its tone. The short starts off chaotic, with a nearly oppressive beat that turns Crummings’s rant into some kind of demented freestyle.

“I still have a list of my policies if I ever did or ever do win mayor,” Crummings tells the audience as he grooms the lawn of a pretty house he will later rob and kill the inhabitants of.

“I’d start by tearing down every fuckin’ billboard in the country and the ones that are left standing would say horrible horrible shit that would just make you puke. Then I’d shut down every TV station, make everyone live in the forest, and every CEO of every corporate shithouse would have to cut their heads off in front of everyone. And we’d still have a long fuckin’ way to go!”

However, leading in with this kind of chaos makes the moments of calm even more powerful.

As the short progress and Crummings becomes more and more despondent, the viewer is left with no music and only the diegetic background noises of busy traffic and people talking. There are no more “crutches” to view Crummings as anything but the actual person he is, fictitious or not.

The first moment of complete silence comes with Crummings sitting on a bench in a public park at sunset (or sunrise, it is uncertain). He is looking out over a body of water, his back turned from the camera for the first time, and begins to tell us perhaps the first honest, most clearly articulated, story about how he came to be where he was.

He tells us about his uncle’s mental illness as well as his own, and how it destroyed his childhood. He delivers this portion of his monologue in a gentle, soft voice.

Cutting to his closing monologue, Crummings, standing in the middle of the street, he says in the same voice:

“You know what Freud says about the nature of horror? He says that it’s when the home becomes unhomelike. Unheimlich. And that’s what this whole place has become. This whole time, and fuckin’ country, and everything else. It’s unheimlich.”

The ending carries the same despondent weight, however, is as hopeful as it can be without breaking the mold. It’s a nihilist vision of an artist’s desire to shape something that defies the bleak nature of the world around them, and it feels as though Aster is bursting through Crummings in order to directly speak with his audience.

From the promo material that has been released for Midsommar, it looks like family dynamics might be taking a bit of a back burner in Aster’s new work–although it is hinted that a family tragedy is what incites the events of the film itself.

Be sure to check out these three films as well as Aster’s previous work before seeing Midsommar, which premieres July 2.

Throwback flickies: Why Glazer’s ‘Under the Skin’ is a feminist masterpiece

Under the Skin is a film best watched with absolutely no context beforehand. If you haven’t seen it, don’t look up anything about it, no trailers or film reviews beforehand. Seriously, just go watch it.

Spoiler alert.

It is no coincidence that Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 science fiction film Under the Skin opens with the creation of an eye. As a frantic violin crescendo, abstract lights and spherical structures eventually collide to create a clear image of an unblinking iris.

In his renowned 1972 extended essay Ways of Seeing, art critic John Berger writes about the nature of women’s place in society, stating a phrase critical in understanding the nature of the “gaze” in society, that being of: “men act and women appear.”

The quote establishes an unfair but absolutely true reality of the power dynamic between women and men when it comes to the nature of their existence in society. Berger then goes on to say:

“Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object – and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”

To say the least, Glazer is fascinated with the concept of sight and “appearing” as he tells the story of Laura. She’s an alien dressed in a literal human skin suit who has been sent to Scotland to harvest human men for meat.

For each man she successful convinces to enter her van, she is able to lure into what is called the “womb space,” a black void where the men are slowly submerged into the floor.

While this setup seems to be a take on the rather cliched “femme fatale” of the Noir genre, the film becomes more of a quiet–albeit sometimes incredibly unnerving and occasionally horrifying–examination of human society through the eyes of an alien observer.

Otto Fenichel’s work “The Scoptophilic Instinct and Identification” outlines the concept of the “sadistic gaze,” and the Freudian “scopophilic instinct.” Fenichel defines the different (paradoxical) expressions of the scopophilic instinct, from a desire to destroy the object observed, to the desire to empathize with it.

While the gaze is an objectifying–and therefore an inherently dehumanizing–force, it also in some cases has the ability for the viewer to form an empathetic connection with the viewer. Laura is an inhuman observer, who uses her “gaze” to literally consume the men she observes.

However, it becomes increasingly clear that the more Laura engages in the act of observing human life, the more she begins to empathize with her victims and begins to crave to be human. Glazer illustrates Laura’s progression of vulnerability to these men in the scenes in which she lures them into the womb-space.

As the film progresses, Laura must reduce her form to increasing stages of undress in order to fully submerge the men she captures. Glazer uses this visual mechanism to show the audience her increasing vulnerability to empathizing with the human race.

The moment by which Glazer cements Laura’s determination to become human is the moment in which she decides to free the man with neurofibromatosis before he can be sucked into the womb-space.

This is the first time Laura experiences a true empathetic connection, as the man she encounters is ostracized from human society due to his facial deformity in the same way that Laura feels as though she is isolated from her own society. She’s both human, due to the physical nature of her alienness, and inhuman, due to her curiosity for the human world and relative isolation from her home.

Laura is lonely in the same way that this unnamed man is.

Their connection is formed in Laura’s van when she allows the man to touch her face and neck. The man tells Laura that he does not have any friends and has never had a girlfriend. Unbeknownst to the man, his touch is the first skin-to-skin contact with another human being Laura has ever experienced.

The effects of this first interaction in the van become extremely clear when Laura takes the man to an abandoned building to lure him into the womb-space.

From the start, it becomes increasingly clear that this interaction will be like none other previously witnessed. Laura’s hypnotic gaze does not work in seducing the man.

Once in the womb-space, the man becomes increasingly aware of his surroundings, looking around the empty void and even engaging in conversation with Laura, repeating the word “dreaming” to her multiple times to which she reassures him: “yes we are.”

While Laura eventually regains her ability to draw the man into the floor of the womb-space, she must become completely naked to do so–something that has never happened up until this point.

After she does so, there is a sharp cut to an unidentifiable black form staring at Laura as Laura stares back at it. This is essentially the first glimpse the audience gets of Laura confronting her true, alien, form in her new body.

Here she is experiencing the conflict of her real human guilt of harvesting this man and her moral obligation, as represented by her bare alien form later revealed at the end of the film, to carry out her assigned purpose.

This same conflict is further illustrated as Glazer immediately cuts to Laura examining herself in the hallway mirror of the abandoned house she drew the man with neurofibromatosis into.

As Laura steps into the light to examine herself, she turns to see a fly desperately slamming its body against the pane of the window in order to surpass a boundary and escape into the free world. Glazer’s depiction of the fly’s futile pursuit of freedom mirrors the current state of Laura’s own psyche.

Glazer employed a similar tactic at the very beginning of the film with the sequence illustrating Laura’s conception. After undressing the corpse of the nameless woman, Laura examines an ant running across her fingers.

Here, the ant represents an organism that has a sole purpose of robotically fulfilling a task in order to better the lives of the colony as a whole.

This reflects Laura’s intentions on earth before she grows an empathetic connection with the humans she hunts: harvest for the greater good of her people.

Glazer narrowing in on the fly bouncing against the illuminated window represents the change in Laura’s outlook. Laura realizes her desire to escape her alien condition, therefore it should come to no surprise to the audience when the next shot is of Laura freeing the deformed man from the womb-space.

Following this, Laura, obviously shocked by her own actions, wanders further into the Scottish moors. She stops at a restaurant and orders a slice of cake, only being able to take one bite before regurgitating the food back onto her plate–a brutal physical reminder of her ultimate inhumanity.

Laura’s drift towards human impulse is finalized when she is staying at the house of a nameless man played by Michael Moreland.

Although throughout the film Laura is the subject to empathetic actions from complete strangers, Moreland’s character fully reveals human kindness to Laura by caring for her after seeing her obviously distraught on the bus.

After trying to care for her for several days Moreland eventually tries to have sex with Laura. Laura cooperates, however, the audience is shocked to realize Laura doesn’t even understand what sex is. Shaken, she pushes Moreland off of her and examines her genitals with a mirror.

This calls back to a concept Laura Mulvey discusses in her 1973 essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” This essay, famous for coining the term “the male gaze,” discusses the place of women in old Hollywood movies. However, it also offers useful mechanics to discuss present-day depictions of women on the screen.

In her essay, Mulvey discusses Lacan’s mirror, which describes a child’s recognition of “its own ego” the first time they are able to recognize themselves in a mirror. Mulvey then asserts that the child is actually recognizing its “ego ideal,” a Freudian term describing the inner image of oneself that one wants to become.

Therefore, when Laura examines her genitals in the mirror, she is also recognizing her ego ideal–that of being a true human woman both inside and out. This scene marks a turning point in the narrative as it is this moment that Laura fully connects with her female form.

Glazer forces the realization upon the audience that Laura’s body was a weapon that she didn’t understand, and her realization concerning her own naïveté prompts her to want to understand.

By establishing Laura’s desire to understand what it is to be human while displaying a female form, Glazer is able to make an important cinematic turn to illustrate the reality of being a woman in human society.

Women are constantly caught in a paradoxical loop by being limited only to the power they hold over men as sexual entities, however, it is this status of being solely defined as sexual objects that oppresses them in the first place.

Once Laura develops a connection to her corporeal suit and attempts to live authentically as a woman, she becomes the subject to the eventually fatal control of men.

The tragedy of Under the Skin is that Laura’s inhumanity begins to peel away just in time for humanity to show its darkest side.

The commercial logger is Glazer’s example of the reality of the sadistic gaze, and the inevitability of the film’s bleak conclusion shows the powerlessness women have to even weaponize their own objectification.

Before the commercial logger attempts to rape Laura in the cabin she hides in after leaving Moreland’s house, he engages her in a relatively one-sided dialogue that is eerily similar to the ones Laura engaged in with the men she planned to harvest at the beginning of the film.

Now that Glazer shows the audience a man persistently asking a woman if she is familiar with the areas and if she is by herself, the tone of a scene the audience was initially familiar with from the beginning of the movie becomes immediately predatory in a way that it was not previously.

As soon as Laura fully realizes her humanity–thereby shedding the alien context by which she was also able to actively engage in the scopophilic instinct–the gaze is used to completely destroy her. The commercial logger attempts to rape Laura, in the process ripping her skin away in order to reveal her true, alien, form. Horrified, he sets her on fire. Roll credits.

The result of ending a movie like Under the Skin in this way is a complex but accurate portrayal about not only how the male gaze functions on the screen, but how the ability to objectify a person by simply looking at them plays out in the real world.

Yes, there is certainly something to be said about a film concerning the oppression of women being written and directed by a man, however, Glazer still navigates these concepts without laying too heavy a hand. Laura’s story is used to examine human environments through an alien lens, both for better and for worse. 

Under the Skin is a puzzle of a film. Glazer displays a plethora of seemingly unanswerable questions concerning the nature of human existence for his audience to observe and attempt to answer themselves.

Glazer never comes to a full conclusion about many of the concepts he examines through the hour and fifty-minute run-time, and yet each concept is quietly explored in Laura’s story.

WhIsBe’s ‘Back to School Shopping’ rebelliously shows the importance of gun control

In his most recent installation, “Back to School Shopping,” the artist WhIsBe presents the vision of a capitalist hell-scape of a future in which a casual school shopping trip includes stocking up on brass knuckles, handguns, and body armor.

WhIsBe, most known for his work in the street art world, uses Warholian tactics in order to mesh representations of childhood innocence with more sinister notions of greater American violence.

WhIsBe gained international attention for his “Vandal Gummy” series, a project that depicts various gummy bears holding Department of Corrections placards.

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This series was featured as a part of Coach’s Signature Remix collection, in which they commissioned street artists to incorporate Coach’s signature pattern in their most iconic work.

The Vandal Gummy series was the artist’s first exploration of the intersection between childhood innocence and larger American violence — up until the opening of “Back to School Shopping.”

This installation, created in partnership with the Starrett Lehigh gallery for their Social Impact Month, paints an incredibly bleak window into the future of the commercialization of mass tragedy.

With companies such as Bullet Blocker and Guard Dog Security selling bulletproof backpacks after the Parkland shooting, this future may not be as distant as we’d like.

Maintaining the highest standards and guidelines for all bulletproof vests, bulletproof clothing, bulletproof backpacks, and body armor, more companies like Bulletproof Zone will also have a new and younger customer.

“I don’t like to tell people what to think,” WhIsBe told Kulture Hub.

“There’s no secret agenda to it… My work is not passive aggressive, it’s all right there.”

Art: WhIsBe | Photo Cred: Jesse Vargas
Art: WhIsBe | Photo Cred: Jesse Vargas
Art: WhIsBe | Photo Cred: Jesse Vargas

Here, WhIsBe makes an adept illustration of this future. Mannequins wear bulletproof vests with ninja turtles, sequins, and Louis Vuitton insignias. Outside, the windows of the Starrett Lehigh gallery space loudly advertise the vests, stating: “Kids & Adults Bulletproof Vests, Available in all sizes, Kids sizes start at 49.99, Adults sizes start at 99.99.”

These prices are coincidentally around the same price as the uncertified “bulletproof backpack inserts” sold by BackPack Armor in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas shooting.

“Safety defense boxes” — aka children’s lunch pails — are nailed to the walls, each one stocked with a gun, taser, pepper spray, a first aid kit, brass knuckles, and a snack. A claw machine called “Gun Control” encourages kids to take a chance and play for prizes such as handguns and AR-15s.

Art: WhIsBe | Photo Cred: Jesse Vargas
Art: WhIsBe | Photo Cred: Jesse Vargas

Littered around the space are WhIsBe’s iconic Vandal Gummies and along one of the far walls, a series of prints depicting Peanuts characters with a similar dystopian context.

One lemonade stand sign reads: “Psychiatric help Guns & Ammo 5¢” with a bottom text of “The Doctor is MIA.” These pieces deal with larger injustices concerning mental health awareness and lack of background checks as talking points in the gun control debate.

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“I originally wanted to do something with bulletproof vests a couple of years ago,” WhIsBe told Kulture Hub concerning his initial vision for “Back to School Shopping.”

“But [with the surge in mass shootings] I couldn’t avoid what was going on culturally. It started to fester in my head and so essentially I took this idea of bulletproof vests, [realizing] we would have to have bulletproof vests for kids eventually, [and then thought] what would it be like if that was just a normal piece of everyday life?”

“It’s about seeing things for what I feel they really are,” WhIsBe continued.

“Sometimes when it is sitting right in front of your face you just need to present [your audience] with what they already know. All I do is bridge the gaps between a train of thought.”

WhIsBe partnered with The Brady Campaign and is donating the proceeds of “Back to School Shopping” to the organization. The Brady Campaign states on their website that they work on both a legislative and community-based level in order to meet their goal of reducing gun violence 25 percent by 2025.

With “Back to School Shopping,” WhIsBe presents his vision of the future without actively pushing his own opinions onto others.

Whisbe | Photo Cred: Jesse Vargas

“If you come to the installation and have a strong reaction, you are clearly affected by what is going on,” WhIsBe said.

“Take your own individual action on the subject. I’ve taken my action by presenting how I feel about what is going on. The simple take away is ‘do something about it’–but not in a jerk kind of way.”

Make sure to check out WhIsBe’s Back to School Shopping installation at Starrett-Lehigh. The show runs thru June 30.

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Should we be hype the 2019 Whitney Biennial wasn’t radical enough?

George Orwell is most famously quoted for saying that “all art is propaganda.” That is to say, all art is inherently political. That is to say, there is no form of art that is not inherently both the byproduct and reflection of the time in which it was created.

When the writer for The Art Newspaper Linda Yablonsky described the 2019 Whitney Biennial as missing its “radical spirit,” and that “some artists in the show identify as activists, but there are no revolutionaries among them,” a lot of people, including the artists featured, got pretty mad.

In reference to Yablonsky’s articles and ones similar to it coming after the opening of the Biennial, one of the featured artists, Simone Leigh, wrote in an Instagram post:

“And that is why, instead of mentioning [the historic roots of my work,] I have politely said black women are my primary audience.”


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Leigh, who has done some prolific work for the Highline and won the Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss Prize of 2018, focuses on how material objects are able to communicate cultural values and stories through both the medium of the object and the object itself. Leigh has made it abundantly clear that her audience is singularly for black women.

For one, don’t discount the beauty that comes with “subtlety,” however I would hardly describe the show as subtle. The Whitney Biennial includes a series titled ‘Baby’ from the artist Heji Shin, which shows the portraits of an infant’s head after it crowns during childbirth.


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Also included is a video installation directly attacking the Whitney’ board vice chair, Warren B. Kanders. The video, created by the group Forensic Architecture, targets Kanders’s ownership and operation of the company Safariland, the producer of the tear gas canisters American border patrol agents have lobbed at asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border.

It is in regards to Kanders’s position in the Whitney’s executive administration that critic for WNYC Deborah hit the nail on the head:

“The Biennial would have been stronger if the museum had tossed Kanders off its board on opening day. The show tries, to judge from the curators’ statements, to confront the injustices of the past and to imagine a better future. But how can we take that goal seriously when the Whitney refuses to stand up to acts of hypocrisy and ethical malfeasance within its own board room?”

However, this is not to discount the fantastic work of the artists who were featured. Sure, there were no explosions, no fire-works of challenging traditional authority in every form, no solving of world hunger.

Yes, we as humans are creatures drawn to the symbolic. However, I, for one, consider it unfair a burden to place on artists to solve every problem they face with their work. Sometimes the work has to be done by acknowledging and illustrating the problem before anyone can begin to “fix” it.

This year’s Biennial is the youngest as well as the most New York-centric biennial in recent years. The collection, aimed at supporting emerging artists and established artists experimenting with new forms, is pretty much centered upon American exploitation of minority groups.

Pieces like Janiva Ellis’s brilliant painting Uh Oh, Look Who Got Wet to Jeffrey Gibson’s colorful textile work resembling indigenous ceremonial robes with the embroidered phrases “Stand Your Ground” and “People Like Us” hanging from the rafters were aimed at highlighting American tensions felt amongst minority groups.


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This Whitney Biennial, rightfully, highlighted the voices of women and POC. All art is inherently political. Increased visibility of art being made by those who have historically been undermined by the American system is a crucial (dare I say, radical?) step in the right direction.

I guess what I am trying to say, here, is the phrase “not radical enough” has been thrown around a lot with no real definition as to what the author exactly means by “radicalism” in the first place.

So what exactly do critics like Yablonsky mean when they say that this year’s Whitney Biennial isn’t “radical” enough? She may be referencing the multiple scandals that have risen from the Biennial’s collection in past years.

In 2017, a piece by the white artist Dana Schutz depicting Emit Till’s brutalized body sparked waves of outrage, including a subsequent protest by the artist Parker Bright.

In 2014, the white male artist Joe Scanlan contributed two pieces centered upon the invented character of Donelle Woolford, a black woman artist. One of the pieces included a performance by the artist Jennifer Kidwell, reenacting Richard Pryor’s final routine of his 1977 television show in a piece titled Dick’s Last Stand.

Also included were a collection of Dick Jokes, collected by Scanlan himself, that were aggressively racist and insensitive. Scanlan’s work was met with media backlash long before, and his interviews.

Scanlan told BOMB Magazine that he created the character of Donelle Woolford when making a series of abstract woodwork pieces, saying:

“I liked them but they seemed like they would be more interesting if someone else made them, someone who could better exploit their historical and cultural references.”

Yeah. He really said that.

In an article written for Disillusioned, Jennifer Krasinski and Lauren O’Neill-Butler wrote about the incredible hurtful implications of Scalan’s work, from the work itself to his intentions in making it:

“Forging a black woman to perform as both a sword and a shield for male whiteness is neither conceptually astute nor politically provocative. It is simply a toxic reiteration of exhausting appropriation strategies that have gone on for too long in American culture, where taking everything from others is mistaken for creating something new for oneself.”

None of these instances (with the exception of Parker Bright’s protest) should be considered as “radical.” They are scandals, certainly. However, to label them as anything more than privileged, white, artists claiming a traumatic history that in no way was–and ever will be–their own is incredibly hurtful to the communities they target.

If blatant exploitation of other people’s trauma is considered “radical,” then I am glad that this year’s Whitney Biennial wasn’t.

#BlueForSudan: What you need to know about the unspeakable violence

What is happening in Sudan right now has only begun to get heavy mainstream attention due to the persistent calls to action from social media users across the world.

Recently, Rihanna expressed her horror concerning the massacre on her Instagram story to raise awareness for the situation. The post read:

“They’re shooting people’s houses, raping women, burning bodies, throwing them in the Nile like vermin, tormenting people, urinating on them, making them drink sewage water, terrorizing the streets, and stopping Muslims from going to eid prayer. There is an Internet blackout! Please share. Raise awareness.”

Here is a timeline with the bare-bones basics of how the situation got to this point.

December 2018, the cost of living protests begin

With inflation rates at 70 percent, protests concerning the cost of living began as the Sudanese economy tanked. Reports say that more than 1,000 protesters were detained by government forces.

On Feb. 22, 2019, political turmoil ensues

Bashir declares a state of emergency and promises to step down in 2020 after Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence announced he would be stepping down immediately.

Fast forward to April, peaceful protests continue demanding a democratic government

Peaceful protests for a democratic Sudan continue, reaching military headquarters. A video of a Sudanese woman leading chants goes viral on Twitter.

On April, 11 President Omar al-Bashir was removed from power in a military coup following continued protests.

After spending 30 years in office, Bashir’s government was dismantled and the Sudanese Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ibn Auf declared that a military council would oversee a transition to democracy over the next three years.

The June 3 Massacre

On June 3 soldiers and paramilitary groups open fire on peaceful protesters in Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum.

Mohamad Hashim Mattar, 26, was allegedly shot by Rapid Support Forces during a paramilitary crackdown on the peaceful protest. This begins the social media trend of #BlueForSudan to honor both Mattar and the other martyrs who died for the cause.

On June 11 Sudanese doctors report that over 70 people have been raped, over 100 killed, and 700 have been injured during the attack on the Khartoum camp. The next day the US appoints a special envoy for Sudan as the turmoil continues.

Then on June 14, the Sudanese government admits to ordering the attack on peaceful protestors. Consequentially, the Khartoum protests resume.

Here is how you can help

Sign this petition demanding the UN to establish an international commission of inquiry and investigation.

Also, many people have been changing their social media profiles to Mattar’s Blue in order to raise awareness and show support for the Sudanese protesters.

Donate to Save the Children and UNICEF, both organizations helping children who were displaced during the conflict.

Still, be careful in situations like this about donating to random GoFundMe’s, a lot of horrible people attempt to profit off of tragic events like these.

Make sure to do your research before donating.

#NoKidsInCages takes to NYC streets in 24 guerrilla art installations

This morning a reported 24 guerrilla art installations have appeared in some of the most highly trafficked areas of NYC. Some were placed in front of the headquarters of major news organizations, including CNN, Fox News, and Newsweek.

Other sculptures have been torn down in front of Barclays Center and Columbia University.

These pieces were organized with a collaboration between RAICES, an immigration legal assistance nonprofit operating in Texas, and the advertisement agency Badger & Winters.

These sculptures use paper, wigs, tinfoil blankets, and shoes in order to mimic the sleeping forms of children detained by US Border Control as displayed in leaked viral images of said detention centers.

The installations play audio captured by ProPublica last year of sobbing children from said centers.

Not included in the audio used for the pieces is the reaction of a border patrol agent who said to the sobbing children: “Well, we have an orchestra here… What’s missing is a conductor.” As of June 12, six children have died.

On the No Kids In Cage’s homepage, their mission statement reads:

“They’ve spent an average of 154 days away from their parents. They’ve been shuttled around between 17 different states. They sleep under $0.68 blankets in freezing temperatures.”

“This is not history. This is happening now. Hundreds more have been separated. 6 children have died. #NoKidsInCages is about the children. We cannot be a nation that separates families.”

With no statement from the NYPD as of yet, the installations are being torn down faster than they were able to stay up.

No Kids In Cages is advocating for Congress to pass Bill HR-541: the Keep Families Together Act. This bill was created by child welfare professionals in order to stop the traumatic process of separating families.

For more information about further action, check out the No Kids In Cages website and make sure to click on their “Act Now” tab in order to send a message to your local legislators to stop family separation at the border.

Sharing is an act of protest.

Torture Porn Film

The origins of the ‘torture porn’ film genre and French New Extremity

When exploring any genre of film you also have to examine the social and political environment of the time in which the film was created.

While often dismissed as a credible artistic medium, the horror genre has, historically, been the most forgiving medium by which directors could express their political opinions.

The first ever horror movie, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), was a clear commentary on the growing authoritarian presence in a post-War Germany. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is an allegory for the paranoia of the McCarthy era.

George Romero’s sensational zombie movie Night of the Living Dead emerged as a mid-20th century vehicle to discuss the American socio-political meltdown that was the 1960s. The list could go on.

The classic 1980s slasher can be characterized as the epitome of the white, upper/middle-class, American fear. It’s entire premise is centered upon being in the wrong place at the right time.

The final message is clear, be it a group of college kids going on a camping trip, a sleepy suburban town, or a family making a wrong turn onto a seedy dirt road. Terror is universal, indestructible, unexpected, and lurking just outside your white picket fence.

In 2016, this very same trope continued as a wave of horror films with a home invasion premise hit theaters at an unprecedented level. While these films were in production long before the 2016 election, it is no coincidence that these vivid depictions of fear concerning the invasion of the “other” boiled over at the same time.

Now, horror movie creators don’t bother to beat around the bush. Punk rockers must defeat literal Neo Nazis in Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room (2016), and the entire Purge (2013-2018) franchise serves as blatant commentary about (asymmetrical) American class warfare. Get Out (2017) is self explanatory.

Writing for Aeon magazine, M. M. Own, Ph.D, best summarized why people are psychologically drawn to the horror genre. Own wrote,

“We have always told horror stories, and we always will. Because horror is an artistic expression of an ontological truth: we are creatures formed in no small part by the things to which we are averse.”

Films like Saw (2004) and Hostel (2005) seemed to categorically repulse critics, however they emerged as some of the most commercially successful franchises of the 2000s.

While these films put the “torture porn” genre of horror on front and center stage for American audiences, they were not the first to push boundaries when it came to a cinematic fixation on ultra-violence.

Body-horror obsessed directors like David Cronenberg use the corporeal form to examine human nature because it is the most physically existential part of our existence as conscious beings.

The mutilation of the body as the centermost point of a plot was a new and not to mention gruesome mechanic for audiences; however it does largely deal with our most primal fear, physical pain.

In his 2004 essay “Flesh & Blood: Sex and Violence in Recent French Cinema,” James Quandt coined the term “French New Extremity” to describe a slew of disturbingly sadistic films that focused on depicting sex and violence as realistically–and frequently–as possible.

While not thematically uniform enough to be classified as a “movement” per-se, New Extremist movies broke down boundaries of filmmaking so unapologetically that many critics proclaimed it marked the end of the horror genre itself.

However, in hindsight, both critics and fans alike are quick to point out the potential influence New Extremism has in subverting genre tropes in order to apply new meanings to traditionally worn storylines.

New Extremism as a whole does not have a cohesive cinematic presence other than its ruthless portrayals of violence. Hyper-realistic violence as “entertainment” is strictly a post-9/11, post-Abu Ghraib, media phenomenon that usually goes dismissed by older critics.

However these movies still, well, happened and they happened for reasons other than sadistic directors and thrill seeking audiences. They are both a direct response and by-product of the period in which they were created.

Any list compiling the most disturbing New Extremist films ever made includes Pascal Laugier’s 2008 film Martyrs. Laugier, whose newest film Incident in a Ghostland (2018), is, coincidentally, a home-invasion thriller.

The disturbing flick was created in the midst of France’s own “migrant crisis.” Laugier could be considered the father of French New Extremism, not necessarily for its conception but for creating the film that singularly defined the already developed style.

Martyrs follows Lucie, a woman who was kidnapped and brutally tortured by a family when she was young. Years later, Lucie exacts vengeance on the very family who traumatized her, including their teenage son and pre-adolescent daughter.

However is becomes increasingly clear to the audience that violence as a means of revenge is a hollow act. Lucie is still, literally, haunted by her survivor’s guilt after the entire family has been killed.

Her shame is manifested in the form of a mutilated woman, who attacks Lucie after she finishes slaughtering the family. However, it is made clear to the audience that this woman is just a figment of Lucie’s imagination and Lucie is actually just attacking herself.

In the end, violence as retribution is still futile and purposeless violence. Laugier, like the two directors below, makes a slightly hypocritical point by rubbing his audience’s nose into what they came for.

Gaspar Noé’s film Irreversible made its startling debut at Cannes film festival in 2002, in which 20 people fainted and 250 people walked out of the theater. Infamous for a 10 minute long rape scene as well as one of the most shockingly horrific fight scenes you might ever see. Fire extinguisher, face, need I say more?

The film is also filled with vicious (and purposelessly vile) homophobia and transphobia. Irreversible begins at the end of the story and ends at its beginning.

A man, Marcus (Vincent Cassel), goes on a bloody rampage to exact revenge on the man who raped and beat his pregnant girlfriend into a coma. From a narrative point of view, the film does do something interesting in its structure that is organized in order to examine the aftermath of violence.

However, stripped of this cinematic tool (aka, once one reflects upon the story in chronological order) the film brings little else to the table.

New Extremism’s most recent spiritual inheritor is Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built (2018). Seeing as it received a similar reaction at Cannes as Irreversible (although only an estimated 100 people walked out this time around), it has cemented itself as one of the most gnarly releases of 2018.

The film can be interpreted as von Trier projecting both himself and the plight of an artist unable to cope with the ramifications of his creations onto the character Jack, a ruthless serial killer.

Senior film critic at IndieWire David Ehrlich described The House That Jack Built as “a damning self-critique of / backhanded apology for the compulsive violence of artistic creation.”

As a whole, these films share a disturbingly nihilistic worldview that has cemented itself as a tradition within the genre as a whole. Von Trier’s work has carried on a post-Iraq, ultra-violent vision that persists to this day.

With films like The Nightingale  and The Lodge set to release this year, it seems to be a tradition that will only continue.

Three reasons not to cancel your HBO subscription now that ‘GoT’ is over

We get it, it was a long and sad trek to the final episode of Game of Thrones, but it’s over now. We can all take a deep breath and be thankful that all the fan theorizing (read: hyperventilating) can be put to rest.

That is until HBO kicks off the rumored prequel series because they’ll only stop kicking a dead horse once it stops spitting out money.

While an average of 32.8 million of the company’s 140 million subscribers tuned into Game of Thrones every Sunday this season, it’s important to note that HBO is also giving a platform to some pretty incredible projects.

Now that the whole Iron Throne thing has been settled (don’t worry, no spoilers), here are three shows that might be a little more satisfying to spend some serious R&R with the summer.

Something to binge watch: Barry

If you haven’t already found a show to binge-watch over the next few weeks or days, depending on your dedication, Bill Hader’s HBO original series Barry is the perfect place to start.

Just finishing up its second season the show follows Barry, an ex-Marine-turned-hitman who decides after carrying out a job in LA to become an actor. One part laugh-out-loud comedy, one part grisly examination of the realities of violence, Barry pairs both its comedic and tragic elements in an excellent push-pull relationship that never allows one to outweigh the other.

Watch out for the episodes directed by Hiro Murai, who also served as the director on some of the most breathtaking episodes of Atlanta (2016-2018). You can catch up on Barry on HBO GO before its third season airs in Spring of 2020.

Something to catch up on before the season is over – Chernobyl

This mini-series is a drama following the horrific effects and subsequent socio-political turmoil following the massive 1986 explosion from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.

The wide cast of characters represents the scientific, political, and civilian levels of understanding the disaster in the greater context in which it occurred. The first episode alone is enough to get anyone completely hooked, however, the meticulous research that went into creating the series really shows.

Writer and executive producer of the show, Craig Mazin began research in 2014 and studied everything from government reports to first-hand accounts to gain a better understanding of the larger political, scientific, and cultural scope this event had. The last episode of the season is set to premiere Monday, June 3.

Something to look forward to – Euphoria

In the wake of big commercial successes like Gossip Girl, Riverdale, and Pretty Little Liars, HBO has decided to take a stab at its own version of a teen drama. The upcoming show, Euphoria, stars Zendaya and was written by Sam Levinson (Assassination Nation).

HBO positions the series as a contemporary examination of what it is like to be a teenager navigating the world while working through trauma, social media, relationships, drugs, sex, and alcohol.

While this does seem to be a tired take, with big-name producers like Drake, Future the Prince, and the production/distribution company A24 (Lady Bird, Moonlight, 20th Century Women) supporting the project, it seems to be a promising series.

From the trailers that have already been released, we seem to be following Rue Bennett (Zendaya), a recovering drug addict, who befriends a trans girl Jules Vaughn (Hunter Schafer) after returning home from rehab.

The cast includes Maude Apatow (Girls), Sydney Sweeney (Sharp Objects), and Jacob Elordi (The Kissing Booth). The first episode is set to premiere on Sunday, June 16.

Actress Tilda Swinton breaks gender barriers with new ‘Orlando’ exhibit

Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando: A Biography is, above all else, a delicately crafted love letter to her mistress Vita Sackville-West.

The novel is one of Woolf’s most provocative works, specifically for its inciting event in which the main character, Orlando, undergoes a fantastical sex-change midway through the novel and lives for 300 years.

Considered to be satirical historiography about the British estate, Orlando serves as an intricate commentary concerning the perceptions of gender, imperialism, and natural force.

Sally Potter’s 1992 film adaptation of the novel served as a crucial experiment in representing the fluidity of gender and sexuality in a cinematic manner. Orlando (1992) was considered to be Tilda Swinton’s break-out role as an actress and established her as an important figure in the film industry.

Almost thirty years after the film’s release, Swinton has collaborated with The Aperture Foundation as a guest editor and curator of their Summer 2019 issue to further explore Orlando in a contemporary context. The issue is paired with an accompanying exhibition that opened May 24 at Aperture Gallery.

In her opening statement about the exhibition, Swinton wrote:

“I have come to value the landscape of this beloved book far less as being only about gender and far more as being about the profound flexibility of the fully awake and sensate spirit… I have come to see Orlando as a story about the life and development of a human striving to become liberated entirely from the constructs of prescriptive (tired old binary) gender or social norms of any kind.”


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For the latest issue of Aperture, guest editor Tilda Swinton invited a group of artists and writers to make work inspired by Virginia Woolf’s pioneering 1928 novel “Orlando.” . In “Orlando,” Woolf tells the tale of a young nobleman in the age of Queen Elizabeth I who lives for centuries—and along the way mysteriously shifts gender, a point that is radically rendered as a nonevent. Now, Swinton calls upon Woolf’s central themes—curiosity, transformation, and the deep perspective that is earned from a long life—and connects them to our present day. In a look behind the scenes, Swinton notes, “this issue of Aperture will be a salute to limitlessness, and a heartfelt celebration of the fully inclusive and expansive vision of life exemplified by the extraordinary artists collected here.” Read more at . Pre-order the issue now through our link in bio. And visit “Orlando,” an exhibition guest curated by Tilda Swinton, opening on May 24 at Aperture Gallery in New York. . Cover: Vivane Sassen (@vivianesassenstudio), from the series “Venus & Mercury,” 2019. Courtesy the artist and Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Sculpture belongs to Musée du Louvre, Paris, and Château de Versailles, France #ApertureMagazine

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Potter’s work opens the show with a series of six pre-production images that she used to help secure funding for Orlando. Potter took these photos in the Sackville-West estate, the main inspiration for Woolf’s 1928 novel. These photos display the elaborate costume pieces Swinton wore in both her male and female portrayals of Orlando.

While Swinton pushed many times in her interview with The New York Times that she believed that Orlando was about much more than just gender, the show largely focuses on depictions and perceptions of gender and sexuality. Only the work of American photographer Paul Mpagi Sepuya delves deeper into the novel to explore its blatant racism.

Sepuya, who listed Orlando as one of his main artistic inspirations in an interview with i-D, is an artist who attempts to deconstruct traditional photographic perception. Each one of his works prominently features a camera pointed directly at the viewer, effectively turning the photograph into a mirror his audience is looking into.

While his piece “Darkroom Mirror (_2100693)” below was not featured in the exhibition, it is a piece that exemplifies his study of the apparatus itself.


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Darkroom Mirror (_2100693), 2017, 24×32”

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In the show, Sepuya’s photographs explore the two moments in which Woolf describes Orlando’s violent and purposeless assault of a family heirloom: the preserved head of a Moor.

While most older (read: white) critics chalk these two scenes up as just another layer of satire concerning British heritage, Woolf does not treat this idea with the delicacy it deserved.

A 21st century reading of the novel shows an ignorant, shallow, disregard for the power dynamics at hand. She didn’t have any right to use the n-word when Orlando recalls the assault later in the novel. It could be said that Woolf was a “product of her time,” however that does not mean she should not be held accountable for these scenes.

In the New York Times interview conducted by Ted Loos, Loos mentions to Swinton, “a particularly fraught moment related to race.” It’s important here that we call it for what it is: Orlando has two moments that are blatantly racist.

It’s important to directly engage with this exact rhetoric from the onset of attempting to engage with the novel as a whole. Dancing around the issue at hand–describing it as a “fraught moment”–dampens its severity.


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The Conditions, on view

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Sepuya’s untitled photographs depict Sepuya himself, a window overlooking the sea, and three separate depictions of Moors: two paintings against the same window and what appears to be a cut-out photo of sculpture against a door frame.

These two settings are in obvious reference to the beginning of Woolf’s novel, which opens with Orlando as a young boy, brutalizing the decapitated Moor’s head in his family attic before going to look through a stained glass window.

Sepuya’s work provides a powerful reimagining of this scene by removing Orlando’s presence completely. In doing so, he lets the various depictions of the Moor serve as a ghost-like presence, a haunting reminder of what imperial violence really looks like, and the senseless cruelty of Woolf’s original description.

Multi-media artist Zackary Drucker is a trans woman who contributed three portraits of Rosalyne Blumenstein to the collection. Drucker, who is also a producer on the Emmy award-winning show Transparent, explores gender posturing, dysmorphia, and BDSM culture in her larger body of work.

Zackary Drucker, Rosalyne, 2019, for Aperture

Here, Drucker’s studies focus on Blumenstein, an influential trans activist, and foremother, and likens her to Botticelli’s Venus. Drucker’s work explores the feminine binary and the seductive beauty that comes with it. Drucker also contributed a series of Blumenstein’s own photograph collection to further pay homage to her mentor and muse.

Both Mickalene Thomas and Walter Pfeiffer contributed bubbly portraits of their subjects, pairing nonsensical outfits with even more fantastic set pieces to create hallucinatory dream-scapes with their work.

Thomas’s photographic work has an added layer of transformation due to her use of collage to transform her original images into a distorted and colorful reimagination of reality.

Mickalene Thomas Untitled #3 (Orlando Series), 2019

Thomas’s body of work focuses on the representation of the black body in art, and the four pieces she contributed explore the fa’afafine third-gender community of Samoa boys who are raised as girls. Her primary subject is her partner, Racquel Chevremont, again recalling Woolf’s motivations in writing Orlando as a love letter to Sackville-West.

On the other hand, Pfeiffer’s dream-like portraits of young men presently explore the intersections of feminine presentation and “macho boys” as well as a fascination with youth. This includes an untitled photo of a sleeve stuffed with flowers, resembling the ruffled Elizabethan costumes of Swinton’s male portrayal of Orlando, and a young man wearing a flower crown.

Lynn Hershman Leeson is most known for her elaborate performance art piece Roberta Breitmore. The piece called a “private performance” on her website, spanned five years in which Hershman Leeson opened bank accounts, rented an apartment, as well as saw a therapist as a fictional character.

Lynn Hershman Leeson, Rowlands/Bogart (Female Dominant), 1982, from the series Hero Sandwich . Hand-painted collage

Hershman Leeson made intricate spreadsheets detailing how Roberta would wear her makeup and physically perform, such as her 1976 work “Roberta’s Body Language Chart.” This piece of performance art poked holes into the presentation of womanhood, an idea that Woolf constantly engages with with her genderless coding of Orlando.

Each on of Elle Pérez’s photographs is a small character study, largely focusing on members of the LGBTQ community. Perez’s work resists any type of set narrative, presenting a black and white portrait as well as a photo of a vial of testosterone for the exhibition.

Viviane Sassen’s series Venus & Mercury is a photographic study of the Palace of Versailles, another strong connection to the intimate study of the European estate present in Woolf’s original text. Sassen later stained her collection of images of classical statues with pigment, sometimes to represent a type of otherworldly aura, sometimes as a blatant placeholder for blood.

Viviane Sassen Venus & Mercury, 2019

Collier Schorr’s untitled series serves as a visual documentary of the trans model Casil McArthur between the years 2015-2018. Schorr met McArthur right as McArthur began his transition. Schorr’s work explores McArthur’s transition from pre to post-op. Schorr also contributed a video installation of the musician Melissa Livaudais playing the guitar made by the sculptor Daniel Oates.

Jamal Nxedlana is a creative director at Bubblegum Club, a publication that focuses on engaging the world with South African youth culture. Nxedlana showed three original photographs for Orlando, a series titled FAKA Portrait. FAKA is in reference to the performance art duo Fela Gucci and Desire Marea.

In an issue of Bubblegum Club dedicated to the duo, the introduction reads: “For the queer, the trans, the non-conforming, the female and the black… there is FAKA.” FAKA, as well as Nxedlana’s portraits, rigorously challenge all forms of the gender binary.

Jamal Nxedlana, FAKA Portraits, Johannesburg, 2019, for Aperture

Lastly, Columbus-based photographer and installation artist Carmen Winant supplied five pieces to the exhibition. Winant’s work, titled A melon a pineapple, an olive tree, and emerald, a fox in the snow, is a series of two-part layerings in reference to Orlando’s encounter with a Russian princess at the beginning of the novel.

The first layer of the series is a 2002 photo of Winant’s breasts marked with faint scratches. Three of photos layered on top of her 2002 work are the original photos Woolf included in Orlando, many of which including photos of Sackville-West herself dressed up as Orlando.


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Orlando opens tomorrow at @aperturefnd 🎭

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The remaining two pieces come from a pamphlet about clay working. Both this concept and the layering of multiple images against one constant base suggest the transformative nature of the themes presented in Woolf’s work.

Orlando is on view from May 24 to July 11. The accompanying Summer 2019 edition of Aperture magazine is on sale now.

Buy art the smart way: Hold on to your piece and beware of the internet hype

Jeff Koons’ 1986 sculpture “Rabbit” just sold for  $91.1 million dollars. The work was apart of the collection of the late S.I. Newhouse Jr.

The work worth millions and accompanied by ten other pieces of modern art sold at the auction house Christie’s New York on May 15. The value of Koons’ work broke records for the most expensive work of art sold by a living artist.


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A #GoodBunny or #BadBunny? Visit our Rockefeller Center galleries by 15 May and decide for yourself.

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While the sale was impressive, it also showed the newfound intervention of the uber-wealthy into the art buying world. In her article “Even the Rich Aren’t Rich Enough for Jeff Koons,” economist Allison Schrager warns that these big-ticket buys have darker implications for the art market.

Arriving at the conclusion that art is one of the easiest “get rich fast” investments out there plays right into survivorship bias. Survivorship bias is the phenomenon by which people en mass only examine those who have already made it through some type of selection process.

The logical error solely focuses on those who succeed. Additionally, it can lead to dangerously false conclusions with the data provided. Data having to do with the value of investing in the art industry should be taken with a grain of salt.

Most of the time it cannot account for all of the art forgotten in basements, attics, and vast storage spaces of major museums.

The art market itself, while too big for investors to ignore, is incredibly unreliable. In addition to navigating the commission prices of gallerists and auction houses, investors also have to be very careful when it comes to forgeries and rapidly changing tastes.

Furthermore, the commercial market for art has broadened at exorbitant levels due to the internet of things. These new technologies lend increased visibility to rising artists, something that was previously impossible to do without the help of art world elites.

While these factors make the market for investors unstable, it also allows marginalized artists who were historically excluded from mainstream artistic spaces to flourish. Internet technology has also allowed important social spaces, such as art fairs and gallery openings, for beginning collectors to network and begin to get a feel for the present day’s market.

Also, platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr allow artists to have direct relationships with future buyers without the middlemen, like gallery owners or other administrative members of the industry.

These social platforms help the artists’ reach and attract major industry celebrities, such as the works of Alec Monopoly or John BornHowever, this does mean that art markets are more complicated than before because there is less control over how art is received. 

While they have the least amount of access to capital, millennial collectors are considered to be the most adept at navigating digital markets and networking.

The 2016 TEFAF Art Market Report found that online fine art sales had grown at an unprecedented rate in the span of a year, and this trend continues to this day.

Millennial collectors make up the largest demographic of those who purchase through online platforms and also those take the most risk when purchasing art. However, a large part of collecting is dependent on how long you are willing to wait to auction off the pieces you own.

If collectors try and flip an artist’s work too fast, it would make it even more difficult for that artist to sell in the future. Therefore, collectors must play an incredibly delicate balancing game between potential buyers and the art they purchase.

Speaking to Bloomberg Magazine, Swiss collector Uli Sigg’s main advice for beginner investors is to do some intense research about the artist they intend to buy from. If an artist’s work was featured in a major gallery or museum, it has a much greater chance of appreciating in value.

Collectors seem to universally agree that, first and foremost, you must buy the art you like, not the art you think might become the next iteration of Jeff Koons’ “Rabbit.”

Money in the art world is mainly generated by what is called secondary sales, meaning the constant trading of big-ticket pieces between the most influential auction houses. Attempts were made for a certain percentage of the auction prices to go back to the original artists. However, these efforts failed because of intellectual property issues.

The most difficult problem gallerists themselves face is the fact that the value of art is almost entirely subjective. This — for better and for worse — is why the industry has such a complex posturing process between the select few dealers, galleries, and museums who have the ethos to determine the value of certain works.