Ingest/Digest #1

The inaugural!

Hi everyone! 

I've started a reading/listening/watching/surfing/who knows what else share list -- a digest, if you will. Welcome.

I've had more time on my hands than usual.......and have been consuming lots of culture online. I thought it would behoove me to share with you all what rose to the top, because if you're anything like me you love (or tolerate) receiving suggestions such as these as we wallow at home. I hope to send something out regularly, frequency tbd.

Enjoy! I'm afraid you, the chosen first recipients, can't unsubscribe without definitely hurting my feelings 🤠, but on the plus side I am extremely interested in your suggestions.

xoxo

Sara

**READ**

Distantiated Communities: A Social History of Social Distancing

by Lily Scherlis for Cabinet Magazine

Months old, but really the best essay of the pandemic for me. The now most banal of terms has a fascinating and resonant history.

In Dark Times, I Sought Out the Turmoil of Caravaggio’s Paintings
by Teju Cole for The New York Times Magazine "Voyages"  Issue

Teju Cole is, simply, very cool, and this article condenses all the reasons why. Seamlessly weaves personal journey, art history, geopolitics. I learned, I cried, I longed for Italy.

The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning

by Alec MacGillis, co-published by The New Yorker and ProPublica

Just an incredibly well-reported and devastating long piece.


Carceral Aesthetics

Nicole Fleetwood in conversation with Rachel Kushner, in Artforum

In connection with Fleetwood's remarkable new book and exhibition at MoMA PS1, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Incarceration (on through April 4, 2021). Great interview, especially if you won't see the show or read the book. Fleetwood: "Although prison art is often called outsider art, in fact the opposite is true: This art is all about institutional relations. When one considers the outsize impact carcerality has on society, it becomes apparent that artists who are or have been locked up are absolutely at the core of cultural production. I wanted to write these artists into the center of contemporary art."

What do Shoes Do?

by Randy Laist, for Aeon

This is a really fun and interesting romp-analysis about shoes and human identity, covering everything from Van Gogh, Carrie Bradshaw, Dorothy, and Cinderella, to classic aphorisms ("walk a mile in their shoes") religious proscriptions about worshipping barefoot, and the George W. Bush shoe attack (to wit: "That something as lowly and commonplace as a shoe could be used to humiliate the most powerful person on the planet seemed to epitomise the precariousness of the US’s position in Iraq"). As someone whose feet seem always to resist shoe happiness, I dug it.

"Native America" issue of Aperture Magazine

Guest edited by artist Wendy Red Star

Wow. You gotta buy it, but an excellent issue treating a wide range of Indigenous photographic practices both historical and contemporary.

Everyone is Gay on TikTok

by Alex Hawgood for the New York Times

This is one of those Times articles that is written for boomers (and, I guess, boomery young people like myself) to try to explain 'kids today.' It's about young straight boys, who TikTok for a living (ugh), 'playing' gay with each other in videos -- cringily calling themselves "Homiesexuals" -- which is a wildly popular substrain, especially with teenage women. Pieces like these always clumsily bludgeon the point with some degree of self-satisfaction (we're hip!) and this is no exception; it paints this phenomenon as progressive, quoting a lone gay objector, while glossing over just how baldly exploitative and homophobic this supposed "paradigm shift" really is.

**VISIT**

National AIDS memorial - Interactive Quilt

This digital repository contains all 48,000 panels of the world's largest community arts project, and, of course, massive AIDS memorial. Zoom in and out with perfect hi res images. It's sad and sweet and astounding. 

A Guide to the Internet by the LA Times

I only found this like 2 weeks ago, and it was last updated in May, but it's a wondrous list! Live animal and plant feeds, volunteer transcription for Library of Congress, Wikipedia rabbit hole suggestions, games, etc. (Have you heard? I'm unemployed.)

**LISTEN**
I'm always trying to get on top of the obscene amount of podcasts out there. I feel like I'm always listening to something but rarely actually enjoying it. These are exceptions:

Noble Blood
by funny person Dana Schwartz

Podcast about the super dramatic lives of royals throughout history!

LeVar Burton Reads by...LeVar Burton

He chooses great short fiction pieces and reads them. It's really nice.
*episode recommendation: #70-71, "Recitatif" by Toni Morrison

99% Invisible by Roman Mars, et al

Oldie and goodie! For the uninitiated: "99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world." I've been working through lots of old episodes.

*recent ep recs:

#404: Return of Oñate's Foot

#408: Valley of the Fallen

If you haven't yet, I highly recommend Nice White Parents from the New York Times, and, while we're at it, 1619.


**WATCH**

(In addition to a constant rewatch of 30 Rock.)

The Great Pottery Throw Down

Available on HBO Max and less reliably on YouTube

I think we're all familiar with the pure delight of The Great British Bake Off and I, for one, have been a little horrified to learn of the various franchise spin-offs - the Great Flower Arrangers, the Great Interior Design thing, etc. But there is one offshoot I absolutely ADORE. The Great Pottery Throw Down combines all the charm, wholesomeness, humanity, and creativity of bake-off with the more interesting (to me) artistry of ceramics. The format is identical to bake-off - each week presents challenges to cute amateur potters in different and international styles, which ends up being a fascinating education in techniques, materials, firing processes, decorative patterns, etc. One of the judges is the funny-looking British ceramic artist Keith Brymer Jones, whose version of Paul Hollywood's overdramatized congratulatory handshake is to start openly weeping. It's SO wonderful. 


And I must agree that watching ceramics get made is, somehow, really emotional. Clay as a medium is fickle and fragile - and each technique so reliant on a seemingly impossible chemical alchemy - that the final products feel like mini miracles. There is so much personality in the pieces, so much satisfaction. And because ceramic artwork is sort of perennially undervalued, yet such an ancient art form, this send-up is doubly satisfying. 

Expecting Amy
HBO Max
I love Amy Schumer. Period. She's brilliantly funny and totally human. This 3-part documentary records Amy's notoriously horrible pregnancy, during which she is also admiringly hard at work on a new comedy show. She had severe hyperemesis during pregnancy, which causes frequent and violent vomiting like, all the time. (If you don't like watching someone vom, maybe steer clear.) Nonetheless, she keeps up an intense schedule of performing and refining her act, riding the subway to the Village to practice in clubs, and always being off-the-cuff funny. (Her resulting self-reflexive show is 
Amy Schumer: Growing on Netflix, which was great.) Also covered in the series is an in-depth look at her marriage, including her husband's recent diagnosis of autism, and her activism, which gets her arrested. I found myself in awe of her strength; horrified at how little is known and could be done for her hyperemesis; weepy at her love story; and, of course, laughing. 


Honeyland Hulu
Trust me. Documentary about an angelic Macedonian beekeeper, her ancient techniques, and the destructive forces of capitalism. 


My Octopus Teacher Netflix 
A very moving documentary about a South African diver and the relationship he develops with a tiny and brilliant lil' octopus. I officially no longer eat octopus (sadly, as it's very good).

Bonus watchers tip

I recommend subscribing to a phenomenal monthly TV + Film newsletter written by Claire Typaldos (older sis of my bff from high school), who has watched everything ("highbrow to lowbrow and everything in between") and writes lovely reviews to help you wade through the miasma. Some of my favorite discoveries have been from her list. Subscribe here.