And so the contagion has spread. First Brexit, and now Trump. I poke at my carrot, goats curd and flax seed morosely, my spirits sinking as the enormity of this latest round of foolishness sinks in. I think of those art world Bernie-supporters who sat out the election rather than vote for Hilary. My mood sinks further. I ruefully look at the bitter leaves and buttermilk side dish that a pretty young waitress brings to my table and sigh. I wonder if I should ask for her number – Catherine David always said I was at my most handsome when melancholy.
I decide against it. This is no time for fripperies. Us curators must have a plan of action. Is soliciting post-it notes from artists and sending them on Instagram enough? Clearly not, although its honest endeavour should be applauded. Do we take solace in art advisor Todd Levin’s words on Trump’s probable policy on taxation: ‘Tax rates and economic policy will possibly be very much in favour of the high net worth individuals who are major art buyers at evening sales.’ Do we, like those heroines of Russian resistance Pussy Riot say that everything will be okay in the end as its just like being in prison and discovering after the bad stuff you can ‘create’ nice things? Do we, like Simon de Pury re-post images from the well-known singer song-writer Snoop Doggy Dog?
With the greatest respect to Mr Levin, Ms Riot and Riot, and Mr de Pury, I suspect that there could be stronger responses
Everyone of course has their own coping mechanisms, I reflect as I knock back a generous amount of the 2011 Saint-Joseph that accompanies this spartan meal. But with the greatest respect to Mr Levin, Ms Riot and Riot, and Mr de Pury, I suspect that there could be stronger responses. I am genuinely heartened by the Whitechapel Gallery’s announcement the day after Trump’s victory that they will present an exhibition of photographs by 17 women drawn from the collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC. A small statement but at least the start of something practical and solid. I am lifted by my old sparring partner, Christian Viveros-Fauné’s rousing call to arms. Jerry Saltz’s Instagram feed reminds us that we are all Voodoo Children and we must get angry. I urge you all to follow the excellent Joshua Decter on Twitter also rousing us from our complacency.
I am not an angry man. Like Eliot’s Prufrock I wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. I dream about the mermaids singing to me. But now, perhaps its time to throw the mermaids to the sharks, put on some combat trousers or whatever young folk wear these days and get down and dirty. Remember Rudy Giuliani threatening to evict the Brooklyn Museum because it wanted to hang Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary? Well that particular culture warrior will be back, but this time along with the likes of the even more swivel-eyed. Take Stephen Bannon, the Executive Chairman of an alt-right website that he described as "the Fight Club". “You don’t come to us for warm and fuzzy,” continued Bannon. Good luck to us all.
Online exclusive published on 17 November 2016.