Ken Kontroversy, Cont.

November 29th, 2012

As expected, more than 1,100 people have signed the petition calling for an editorial response to Ken Johnson’s review of Now Dig This! at MoMA PS1.

In my previous post, I wondered how Mr. Johnson’s former teaching colleagues have responded.  One of these colleagues is David Levi Strauss, Chair of SVA’s MFA Art Criticism & Writing Program.  Professor Strauss tells me:

“I did sign the petition, because I think it has merit. It does not ask the Times to fire Ken, or for Ken to resign. It asks the Times to ‘acknowledge and address this editorial lapse and the broader issues raised by these texts.’ I think that would be a good thing, so I signed on.

I have no ill will toward Ken. He was hired by Tom McEvilley before I arrived as chair, and he taught for us for two terms.

I don’t think this is really about Ken Johnson. It’s about the Times, and the implicit, de facto racism and sexism that still exists in the institutions of the art world. People have just had enough of this.”

Professor Strauss’ statement seems to pivot scrutiny to the editorial structures at the Times.  As a unique writer, Ken Johnson’s outlook on the show was not intentionally pernicious, but his analysis could have thrived from craftier editorial modeling.

Crafty modeling
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