David Thompson
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August 17, 2010

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Anna

There aren't enough ethnic minorities applying for art jobs so we must use taxpayers' money to fund racist discrimination policies... Wow. It's like there's a template for all Guardian comment articles.

Ross

"Our collective culture? Really? "

As befits their status as the new royalty they use "we" and "our" to mean "I" and "mine".

David

“It’s like there’s a template for all Guardian comment articles.”

It ticks most of the usual boxes, yes. And it does have that special Guardian quality. It’s whiny, presumptuous and bloated with entitlement, and having failed to demonstrate that a terrible social injustice actually exists, the demand for more of other people’s money continues undiminished.

mlrosty

No-one does special pleading like The Guardian.

Tom Foster

And yet again it's good to see the writer of this bilge getting a good kicking in the comments thread. Brian Whitaker's intervention is particularly amusing…

David

Tom,

“Brian Whitaker’s intervention is particularly amusing…”

Yes, poor Brian does seem a tad miffed. Those who dare to point out flaws in the article are apparently “pathetic.” At one point Whitaker links to a description of “positive action” which he seems to assume is unassailably virtuous. It tells us that employers are permitted (and may be obliged) to extend special “access to facilities,” bursaries and training opportunities to “groups” deemed “disadvantaged” or “underrepresented.” Job vacancies may also be advertised “where they are more likely to be seen by the members of a disadvantaged group.”

What’s interesting is that the “disadvantaged group” can apparently include articulate middle-class film curators who happen to have Egyptian parents. Presumably, having a father who favours a career in medicine for his children now qualifies as some crippling disadvantage to be fixed with public money.

Franklin

"...I spent what seemed like a lifetime twiddling my thumbs in unsatisfying entry-level roles..."

My satisfaction is the responsibility of the public! Who knew? Here I am going around thinking that it was mine, somehow.

sackcloth and ashes

'And yet again it's good to see the writer of this bilge getting a good kicking in the comments thread. Brian Whitaker's intervention is particularly amusing…'

I can't see them on Mr Kholeif's article. Have they been airbrushed out?

Back on topic, I'm at least relieved to see that idiots who waste their time in uni on post-modernist pseudo-degrees end up jobless. It's just a shame that they don't join the dots and figure out the reason why they're unemployable.

Richard

The comments on the original article are succinct, pertinent and often funny. The best is by Richilove.

Tom Foster

'What’s interesting is that the “disadvantaged group” can apparently include articulate middle-class film curators…'

It's hard to know where to start with it all, really. The 'beyond parody' comment has been made many times in responses to articles like this over the years, but the Guardian still keeps coming back with articles even more jaw-droppingly other-worldly than before.

Do they even bother thinking through this 'public subsidy to correct ethnic under-representation' stuff? Must taxpayers' money be thrown at all areas of life until some sort of Guardian-approved notional 'equality' is reached? Someone made a comment about black people being over-represented in one area of the 'arts', namely popular music; do you think Whitaker would be in favour of subsidies to somehow 'correct' this imbalance?

Someone then mentioned how Premier League football clubs, operating in a free market where only talent counts, have a greater racial/ethnic diversity than any other industry, to which Whitaker responds, 'Sure, they have lots of gay players too, don't they?'

What's he even trying to say here? That they don't actually have any gay players? That gay players are inhibited from declaring themselves gay? Or, to try to take him at face value, that they really DON'T have enough gay players? In which case, should we be paying clubs to take on more openly gay players, regardless of talent? Is he trying to be funny, perhaps? It's very difficult to tell.

sk60

Do taxpayers count as an oppressed group?

Darleen Click

so young Omar, after indulging himself in obtaining a fine art degree wonders where the jobs are at ... and figures it can't be because he may have choosen unwisely, but because of the bigotry.

oh.my.

My youngest daughter is a talented artist, but she'll be graduating with a business degree this fall (emphasis in advertising and marketing) because she would like to actually support herself with her art.

davydai nickolenko

thanks David,
always taking one for the team...
i'm glad you read the Guardian CiF, so that i dont have to (except of course, when you point us to these freakshows of identity politics & progressivism).

AC1

I also like to respond with favouring a Rosa Parks act to make sure under-represented white people can travel in the front of public transport.

sackcloth and ashes

This guy is such a tit. Firstly there's this comment:

'As a first-generation British immigrant, I was groomed from as young as the age of five to go down the route of medicine – after all, my father had sacrificed a great deal to bring us to this country.'

Who exactly 'groomed' Mr Kholeif to 'go down the route of medicine'? This sounds like family peer pressure to me (and in this case, Omar, I think mummy and daddy had a point). What's this got to do about society, or 'imperialistic tendencies'?

Secondly, boo-hooh - you had difficulties getting employed as a result of the non-BA you got in 'post-colonial' studies. I would shed bitter tears that your expertise in 'queer film theory' hasn't received the recognition that it deserves from this racist, homophobic society of ours. But then maybe I'm thinking of people I know who came to this country with absolutely nothing but the clothes on their back, and who worked, studied and saved to get themselves where they are now. They didn't whinge about the lack of subsidies or demand preferential treatment. They just picked themselves up and strove for themselves and their families. But then they had backbone, determination and guts, all of which you lack.

Rafi

"To avoid imperialistic tendencies, minority groups must be allowed equal footing in the forum, where they can create their own canon."

What if the 'minority' people who get hired don't want to represent a 'minority' group?

Dave

Apologies for going off topic, David, but I read this and thought of you...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2010/aug/17/nadja-benaissa-trial-distracting-sideshow

David

Rafi,

“What if the ‘minority’ people who get hired don’t want to represent a ‘minority’ group?”

Well, quite. What if the people being hired dislike being regarded as a ‘minority’ anything? Not everyone wants to be professionally ethnic, as it were. Perhaps such undesirables would be filtered out in favour of someone more inclined to resist those terrible imperialistic tendencies.

Having read quite a bit of identity politics literature, it’s hard to miss how often and instinctively the word “group” is used. The framing is by default collectivist, quasi-Marxist, even tribal. Indeed, the word “group” crops up so often you could easily get the impression that the beneficiaries of such policies are viewed as generic representatives of some notional category. As if they were basically just types, to be collected and arranged. (“We need more ethnics in sector G. Does anyone have any Somalians?”)

I tend to think race is much too fuzzy as a concept and not entirely helpful, and it’s interesting to note that the term is used most enthusiastically by two (supposedly antithetical) groups - racists and “diversity” hustlers. In my experience, professional advocates of “diversity” are more likely to be bigoted, condescending and racially fixated than the general population. Sometimes these fixations are expressed quite vividly:

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/04/not-a-person-but-a-group.html

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/10/i-sense-a-malign-presence-.html

blah

Mr. Kholeif did Great Britain a tremendous service by choosing not to inflict his formidable intellect on its sick and injured.

wayne fontes

"Back on topic, I'm at least relieved to see that idiots who waste their time in uni on post-modernist pseudo-degrees end up jobless. It's just a shame that they don't join the dots and figure out the reason why they're unemployable."

Well Sack Cloth and Ashes, at least one person tried to figure out what you do with a degree in Women's Studies. My favorite quote "As a student I did not realize I needed a strategy for being able to support myself economically,".

http://www.boundless.org/2000/features/a0000225.html

TDK

Oh I don't know. If we had to choose a group to be forced to sack the wrong coloured people to make way for minorities then I think the arts must be pretty high on that list.

gordon-bennett

See:

http://isteve.blogspot.com/search/label/Ricci

for (exhaustive) analysis of the mess the US has got into with affirmative action.

Briefly, their employment law states that if a job test produces results where african-american test scores are not within 80% of white-american test scores then the test is deemed to be racially discriminatory and doesn't count.

This is possibly a sensible idea except that the natural gap between a-a and w-a achievement is wider than the legally allowed gap!

From the above link:

"Let me point out that, to get around the EEOC's Four-Fifth's Rule, Chicago has already almost completely emasculated its police and fire tests, in order to make the disparity between white and black passing rates (as innumerately measured by the feds) less than one-fifth. Chicago's last fire and police tests were passed by 85% of the people who walked in off the street. What's the point of even giving a test so easy that people at the fifth percentile among whites pass?"

WTP

This is probably too obvious, but why doesn't David Cameron just package these budget cuts as a form of performance art, thus making any who oppose them instant philistines? Make a big production out of it. Set the legislation to music. Throw in a little street theater, perhaps.

...Uh, we can still say "philistines", can't we? Why is that?

Rob

"Certain ethnic, social and cultural groups have been historically oppressed and are, accordingly, less likely to tread down seemingly less stable career paths, such as the arts."

Such as, for instance, Jazz musicians in the 1920's and rap artists today...

Stork

The first thing that came to mind after reading this article was that Mr Kholeif's interests - gays, colonialism, identity - are exactly the same things that you see in every major modern art gallery worldwide. Far from being isolated, he's part of the mainstream.

For instance I visited the Graz Kunstmuseum in Austria recently only to discover that modern Austrian art looked exactly the same as the modern art in galleries the world over. They even had copies of Judith Butler for visitors to read. So much for resisting American cultural imperialism! Amusingly an anarchist had sprayed "wo ist kunst?" onto a nearby building.

"Our collective culture" is simply nothing of the sort. The culture you find in art galleries is the collective culture of a small minority, in which the same groups (women, gays, ethnic minorities) re-appear time after time. Actually British art, representing our history, our culture and our identity is usually only to be found in the historical sections of art galleries. This is why Cornish artists had to complain that despite the creation of a new Tate gallery in St Ives, Cornwall, it wasn't displaying any actual Cornish art.

Anna

Stork,

"The culture you find in art galleries is the collective culture of a small minority"

As someone says in the CIF thread, Arts Council 'diversity' means LETELU (Looks Exotic, Thinks Exactly Like Us).

Stork

That's dashed funny Anna. I think I'll have to start using that acronym. Thank you.

sackcloth and ashes

Re: Wayne Fontes' link, I was struck by this ...

'Unlike some fields of study, women's studies boasts few famous graduates--perhaps the best known is Rory Kennedy, youngest child of Robert Kennedy, who majored in women's studies at Brown University and is now a documentary filmmaker, producing works such as Different Moms, which explored how mentally handicapped parents raise children with normal intelligence'.

Now I can see some relevance and importance for documentaries like 'Different Moms'. But not for Kholeif's brand of wankery. I hope that in years to come 'post-modernism' (and bastard children like 'queer theory' and 'post-colonialism') will be recognised as the worst act of academic fraud since Trofim Lysenko fucked up the study of biology in the USSR.

rjmadden

David, does Mr Kholeif realise there's an inverse relationship between his 'research concentrations' and his employability?

David

rjmadden,

“Does Mr Kholeif realise there’s an inverse relationship between his ‘research concentrations’ and his employability?”

Well, I don’t know the particulars of Mr Kholeif’s experience, but his article does have an air of coached entitlement about it. There is, though, a tendency among academics to frame art in terms of cleverness and politics - often of a particular and predetermined leaning - and thereby generate text. But the ability to generate text of a carefully politicised and unobvious kind has limited market value outside of an arts education. Hence the rather defensive expectation of coercive public subsidy. It’s all being done for us, you see. It’s “our” collective culture. But the reliance on “theory” and tendentious textual validation is one of the reasons visits to galleries can be so unrewarding. The experience is sometimes like eavesdropping on an insular caste talking to itself. If you take a look at Mute magazine, for instance, you’ll see what I mean:

http://www.metamute.org/

As I wrote some time ago,

The world of new media art is peppered with platforms and discussions, organised and attended by a “community” that appears united in its assumption that art’s primary function is as a vehicle for political transformation. Or rather, as a vehicle for *discussions* about political transformation. Invited speakers frequently profess to “democratise” art (in ways that can be somewhat unclear) and to “engage with new political constructs.” This preoccupation with political discussion rather than aesthetic absorption supports Ashbee's observation that, “This is not art to be looked at; this is art to talk about and write about. It doesn’t reward visual attention; it generates text.” The lengthy press release for RISK, an exhibition-cum-discussion at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts, claimed to “celebrate the ways in which artists investigate the values of social inclusion – not as a political diversionary tactic, but as a radical art practice.” This couching of art in terms of “raising issues” suggests that artists who wish to be exhibited may find themselves being judged as much for their political sensibilities as for their aesthetic ones.

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/02/art_bollocks_re.html

And it’s possible similar expectations may apply to curators.

Rafi

"Mr Kholeif cites no evidence of actually experiencing oppression or exclusion..."

But David he doesn’t need to PROVE he’s discriminated against because of all that 'structural' oppression, like his dad wanting him to be a doctor. Why, just ASKING for proof shows what a racist you are.

/sarcasm.

David

Rafi,

“Why, just ASKING for proof shows what a racist you are.”

Well, that’s the Jane Elliott approach to “diversity” in an nutshell. If, as she claims, “perception is everything” – meaning the perception or misperception of one party only – then evidence is unnecessary. But therein madness lies.

One Guardian commenter heads down the same path and claims that members of Designated Victim Groups may “sense prejudice without being able to put their finger on it.” Well, okay, grey areas will always exist. But if a person isn’t obliged to provide evidence and can merely invoke vague feelings to justify compensation or special treatment, then that invites all manner of supposition and paranoia. It also invites exploitation by liars, loons and opportunists. And if you can’t point to specifics of a fairly grievous kind, you can hardly expect others to bankroll the correction of a problem no-one can actually point to. Given the contentious nature of the proposed remedy and given a claim is being made on other people’s earnings, the presumption is extraordinary.

ojo

This guy is such a tit.

Posted by: sackcloth and ashes | August 17, 2010 at 15:48

"In his work, Omar is fascinated by the underdog, the universal, the multicultural, humanity, minutia, grandeur, melancholy, sadness, joy, the sublime, the surreal, the soul, the spirit and everything else in between…"

http://www.everythingok.co.uk/filmtvtheatre/

Definitely a tit.

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