From the Editor

When we founded we had set up an international network of writers with articles based on viewing exhibitions and events around the world that were of interest and in line with our mission. With the advent of the COVID pandemic and its restrictions on international travel, and the closing down of museums, galleries, and almost every conceivable performing arts venue, it more or less shut us down and destroyed our original conception of the site. We have been in hiatus ever since. This brought us to a point of having to decide whether we continue or shut down completely.

During this time we have re-thought the nature of the site and our intentions. The site has still received traffic, inquiries, and continuing interest from contributors. In light of this we have decided to keep going, or get it going again, with a similar intent to cover cultural phenomena of interest and in light of the new dynamics, possibilities, and issues confronting us in line with our original mission statement. In a sense, the need for a highly filtered, intelligent, inclusive, examination of what is going on and looking at those who are bringing something new into the world, and discussing it online is needed now more than ever. There is still a lot of noise in the media landscape and even more need for intelligent observation online than ever before.

It also turns out our track record has been, even in our short life, noteworthy. For example, Adam Pendleton has become significantly bigger since we first reviewed his London show. Other artists and books and activities we have written about have turned out to have been right on the mark as someone or something that would later blossom into a something more well known and influential in the greater culture. Our vision of inclusivity has become even more of a focus now and certainly more relevant than it was when we first started, though when we started we felt it was as relevant and central to everything to begin with. It’s just that now the rest of the culture is catching up with where we were to begin with. So we were onto something that now seems to be the direction most of the world is trying to get to. But we were already there. That alone is reason enough to continue.

We first went on temporary hiatus just before COVID as we became fire refugees from California fires. We moved our operations to Portland, Oregon, which has a young, vibrant, and energized arts community and now, with the local situation, the front lines of resistance against forces on the political far right. Portland streets are now a battleground with heavily armed right wing militias, the police, and federal troops cooperating with each other to suppress lawful, constitutional, peaceful protests by organizations such as Black Lives Matter.

Again, let me be clear: it is the rightwing militias, police, and federal troops that are making our streets unsafe. They are perpetuating the violence and in particular, the violence against innocent citizens. Yes, there have been arsonists and looters and a few individuals provoking violence. But even amongst these, many have turned out to be well-known and recognized members of far-right hate groups, infiltrators who hope to incite further violence and provoke heavier-handed policing.

Black Lives Matter, for example, has always and at all times promoted non-violence and peaceful protesting here in Portland. The local Antifa [which means, remember, ANTi FAscists], at all times, has maintained a policy of never taking any action against property, but to protect people, ordinary citizens, against the anti-personnel violence of fascist groups and organizations when law enforcement refuses to do so. Which it turns out, is quite frequent here in Portland. In fact, the inability, or probably more accurate, unwillingness of local law enforcement to protect citizens here in Portland is outright scandalous. Shameful.

So to turn around an old saying, has literally jumped from the fire into the frying pan.

And it is only going to get worse. Yesterday, the world watched as the Portland police stood by and observed, without making any moves, as 200 fascist militia members, many, if not most, from out of town, from places like Texas and Wisconsin, with no business here in Portland, heavily armed, fighting Antifas and Portland citizens in our streets for three hours. THREE HOURS.

Finally, when the fascist militias dispersed and most had left the area, the scene turned peaceful. Only then, once the fascist militias had left, and the crowd was peaceful, did the police declare the crowds an unlawful assembly and proceeded to attack them and disperse the crowds. A convicted fascist street-fighter who is on probation, with a condition of that probation being that he cannot attend any demonstration or public activity involving crowds, showed up and participated in the brawls. Even though there is already a warrant out for his arrest, the police made no attempt to apprehend him; in fact, they formed a police corridor to protect him as he left. The police physically manhandled a press photographer who attempted to get a closer photograph.

So now we have local police collaborating with armed fascist militias and protecting criminals convicted of hate crimes with federal troops standing by to intervene should local citizens get the upper hand. We’ve seen warrant-less abductions by unmarked federal officers in full-military-grade kits and “protecting federal property” by forming combat lines three blocks and more from any federal property and shooting outlawed chemical agent weapons down the connecting side streets at retreating citizens. We’ve seen a citizen murdered in a politically motivated drive-by shooting by right-wing militia while standing with friends outside his local tavern. This is Amerika today.

All these events have ample photographic and video evidence available online. It is a politicized backdrop covered by many news and online outlets. Against this backdrop, hopes to pay attention to the people and events attempting to move us forward culturally, to talk about people who are trying to create something worthwhile during dark times. Our society [I dare not, at this particular point in time call it either a culture or a civilization] is in a deep transition. The hope is that we come out of this stronger and having moved somewhat closer to something someone could claim to be a culture and being closer to something we could call civilized. At the moment, it is clear that the human species, and in particular, those living in the United States of America, have a long way to go before being anything near what we could call civilized, and in fact, seem to be moving deeper into a great darkness engulfing everyone.

And we have not even talked about the world being on fire and the climatic chaos descending upon us as our ecological systems begin to spin out of control. Note that they are just beginning to spin out of control. Systems, like pandemics, move along ruthless exponential curves, so you can bet that the beginning is nothing like what will come as our ecosystems’ collapse move onto the steeper slopes of those curves. Al Gore’s films were a soft-sell. They carefully avoided the worst realms of the predictions by some scientists. Ecosystem collapse could endanger our entire food chain. It could end the human species. Gore’s film talked about floods and the displacement of a billion people. But fires might be worse, and it could mean starvation and death for 5-6 billion people. COVID 19 is just a warning, a shot across the bow, a prelude to the horrors we will encounter if we continue on in this direction, continuing on our present course.