On intimacy in the age of technology, Brown Girls, and Dana Schutz’s Open Casket painting in the Whitney Biennial 2017

Kathy Cho considers aspects of art and the artist's life and brings to the reader's attention several web projects to explore. We find the question of race in Dana Schutz's painting Open Casket, based on a photo of the slain Emmitt Till, especially important to ponder. Why did Schutz make this grotesque portrayal (based on a shocking photo of the young man in his open casket)? Why did the Whitney Museum choose to exhibit it in the Biennial, their signature show?

Dana Schutz, Open Casket painting
Dana Schutz, Open Casket, oil on canvas, 2016, on view at the Whitney Biennial 2017.

At the beginning of last week it snowed, a lot, and I also got really sick! I spent some time revisiting some bookmarks and was happily reacquainted with Jesse Darling’s INTIMACY Keynote. Jesse gave this lecture back in Winter 2015, but I often revisit ideas from their thoughts on intimacy, relationships and usage of technology in my own artwork and daily life.

On Thursday, the Whitney Biennial opened to overwhelmingly positive reviews such as “The 2017 Whitney Biennial Is a Pitch-Perfect Survey of Art Today” and “Painting on Message at the 2017 Whitney Biennial”. However, no critic has yet written about the politics and what many POC artists see as the insensitivity of Dana Schutz’s (a white woman artist) painting of Emmett Till, titled “Open Casket”. Artist, Parker Bright, went to the exhibition a couple of days ago to protest as seen here on his Instagram and also recorded live on Facebook video (there’s some pretty constructive dialogue happening between him and other visitors off screen).

On Friday, I came across The Creative Independent which has posts mostly done in interview form, with “conversations explor[ing] themes like collaboration, creative beginnings, the creative process, failure, triumph, fear and anxiety, and bouncing back.” There’s a lot of inspiration from different artists, musicians, writers, and other creatives on this site. I couldn’t choose just one interview to share here.


Lastly, I finally had the time to catch up on a new web series called Brown Girls, which focuses on female friendships and coming of age in Chicago. It’s beautifully shot, hilarious, and so close to home. I definitely hope it gets picked up by a network in the same fashion as Insecure and Broad City (both shows started out as a web series).