Weekend Reading List: What is Art’s Responsibility in the Age of Climate Change?

Stan Lee’s comic book universe; Cerith Wyn Evans on complexity; and is the art world really just about the money?

Woolsey fire, 12 November 2018, California. Courtesy: Getty Images/AFP; photograph: Robyn Beck

Woolsey fire, 12 November 2018, California. Courtesy: Getty Images/AFP; photograph: Robyn Beck

With wild fires raging across California this week in what is now being called the state’s ‘deadliest fire’, we look to Roy Scranton’s thoughts on climate change, and Evan Moffit writing on art in the age of global warming: ‘We need an art that thinks of the future by turning to the present – built not to last but to shape the here and now.’

Marvel Comics’s mastermind Stan Lee died aged 95 this week. We revisit the genealogies of Greek gods, superheroes and comic book villains: ‘Genealogy is popular because it places our lives within the grand sweep of history. It is, like the comic book, a form of escape literature.’

Jailed Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam has been granted bail, after spending 100 days in prison for spreading ‘propaganda and false information’. Skye Arundhati Thomas wrote for us in August about the threats to personal liberty across the region, with ‘freedom of speech’ growing ever more elusive.

Cerith Wyn Evans has been announced as this year’s winner of the Hepworth Prize for Sculpture. Hettie Judah reviewed the prize exhibition in October, describing Wyn Evans’s Compositions for 37 flutes (in two parts) (2018) as ‘a refreshing piece of ethereal fantasy’. ‘The idea of making work in a rarefied atmosphere is something that I’m stimulated by – a notion of encryption, of actually making someone aware that the invisible is also perceivable,’ the artist told us in 2002. 

Nathaniel Kahn’s new HBO art world documentary The Price of Everything (2018) opens in the UK this week. Don’t miss Dan Fox taking to task its hyperventilating representation of money, power and art: ‘I want to see an art world documentary that visits a non-profit art space in Peckham on a wet Friday afternoon when nobody comes through the gallery. I’d like to watch a film that depicts a freelance critic juggling multiple jobs to make rent, and shows you artists creating their own art school because they can’t afford the official ones.’

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Janiva Ellis, Catchphrase Coping Mechanism, 2019, oil on linen, 2.2 x 1.8 m. Courtesy: the artist and 47 Canal, New York; photograph: Joerg Lohse

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