I've been extremely quiet here... most of my time has been spent writing in service of drawing or simply drawing, but a bit of free time has allowed me a moment to put a little rant here.
I stumbled across this "review" on The Gaurdian which is a series where someone writes about some pointless topic they feel like pointlessly writing about (In Praise of... Tweeting!) and for some bizarre reason they chose Arthur Russell.
The piece starts; "There's a certain Keats-like romance in "discovering" an artist who died before their time, before their gifts were truly appreciated."
I can only assume this was written out of malice. There is NOTHING romantic about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. While Reagan was busy plotting ethnic cleansings in South America and railing about the evils of good music, those in power did NOTHING - NOTHING to help here OR abroad. Half a million Americans died. A huge percentage were queer. Keatsian romance?
25 MILLION PEOPLE are DEAD. To you this is romantic? Because you "discovered" an artist? An artist who was never, hidden, who was not wildly, but successful enough to put out records, to get played in clubs all over NYC and who recorded for Phillip Glass. The NEA scandal decimated who was left in the queer arts community- those continuing to thrive were seen as toxic. Our government poisoned the well both physically and culturally.
But to The Gaurdian, this is authentic. This is business! Sell some books, some records and romanticize AIDS. Not only rewriting this as romantic but rewriting history to make it seem as though Arthur Russell was some unknown, outsider artist who is only now getting his dues.
The fact that that they would print this piece on Arthur Russell in 2010 only speaks to their own unwillingness to support artists working now. Why not praise musicians working now? Why not take a chance and HAVE AN OPINION!?
This article treats the world as a whitewashed mausoleum, an empty agenda of cool. Only support that which has been praised by others, that which is long gone but now retro. Don't live in the present, only romanticize oppression. Authenticity is all that matters, even if you have to lie to get there.
Arthur Russell deserves better.