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Trump delivers the first speech of his post-presidency from a stage that is definitely shaped like a Nazi symbol

This past weekend saw Donald Trump’s first post-presidential appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando.

Days before Trump took the stage, CPAC was already trending on Twitter. This was partly because of a weird golden statue of Trump wearing what looked like American flag swim trunks, and partly because many people had pointed out that the stage was clearly shaped like an Odal rune, an insignia used by the Nazis and more recently, as the logo of the American Nazi Party.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about the stage. As people began to tweet…


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Installation view of Hilma af Klint, Painting the Unseen, Serpentine Galleries, 2016. (photo by the author)

This is a photograph of three paintings from Hilma af Klint’s series Paintings for the Temple, completed in 1915, which I took at the Serpentine Galleries in London in 2016. This show followed a major retrospective organized by the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, and the Picasso museum in Málaga. Most recently, her work traveled to the Guggenheim. This exhibition drew over 600,000 visitors, making it the most visited exhibition in the museum’s history. Pretty impressive, from an artist that very few people had heard of prior to 2013. …


Self-representation and subverting the gaze from 40,000 BCE to the present

If you have ever taken an art history class, you have probably come across a photograph of this object:

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Venus of Willendorf. Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

The Venus of Willendorf, named for a village in Austria near the site where it was found, is a limestone figurine, about 4 and a half inches tall. It was probably carved between 28,000 and 25,000 BC. Since its discovery in 1908, this statue has been the subject of debate about its purpose and function.

The name ‘Venus’ is of course something of a misnomer, as this object predates the…


How two films and a sculpture frame the Black Panther’s legacy

One of the last art exhibitions I went to before the pandemic made the world stand still was Soul of a Nation: Art In the Age of Black Power 1963–1983 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Among the most arresting objects in the exhibition was a freestanding green door with red trim which appeared to be full of bullet holes.

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Dana Chandler, Jr. Fred Hampton’s Door 2 (1975). Acrylic paint on wood, 80 x 30"

This is Dana C. Chandler, Jr.’s Fred Hampton’s Door 2 (1975). It is a visual representation of the violence visited on the Black Panther leader on December…


Most Redditors won’t make money on GameStop stock, but that’s not the point.

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By now, virtually everyone with an internet connection has heard about the GameStop stock rally, even if they aren’t entirely sure of all the logistics behind it. To briefly recap: over the past week or so, Redditors on the forum r/wallstreetbets encouraged one another to buy stock in the beleaguered video game retailer en masse, causing its value to skyrocket. This posed a significant problem for hedge funds that have been profiting off the short sale of GameStop stock. In a nutshell, a short sale is a…


A Glitch In the Matrix weighs the pros and cons of simulation theory

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Still from Rodney Ascher’s A Glitch in the Matrix (2020)

[Mild spoilers follow.]

In 2003, a 20–year-old man who had become convinced that he was living in a The Matrix-style simulation shot and killed both of his parents. “When I pulled the trigger,” Joshua Cooke recalls, “it messed me up really bad because it wasn’t anything like I had seen on The Matrix. Real life was so much more horrific.”

A long interview with Cooke, conducted from prison where he is serving a 40 year sentence, stands at the dark heart of Rodney Ascher’s new film A…


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Creative Commons license.

By now, it is old news that many off-duty police from all over the US participated in the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6. For many Americans, this news came as a shock. However, for those of us who have been paying attention to the relationship between white nationalism and policing, it felt like the culmination of a years-long process which has been unfolding in slow motion, that many have sounded the alarm about.

Last fall, in a reading group I was participating in on the far right, I casually mentioned the extent to which both Portland and…


What a guy who wouldn’t help his kid open a can says about the Culture War

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I met John Roderick exactly once. Almost a decade ago, we were in a photo shoot together because our bands were playing the same local festival and we both wound up on the cover of a now-defunct Seattle arts magazine. I had never heard of his band The Long Winters, and I think that fact surprised Roderick, who seemed very used to people knowing who he is. …


How the handwringing over the terminology misses the point

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Photo by Taymaz Valley (Creative Commons)

One of the most common clichés invoked in conversations about policing in the US is the one about apples: “Not all police are violent. The ones doing the killing are bad apples.” Those who use this cliché intend to simultaneously defend the institution of policing while admitting that the violence committed by officers is, in fact, indefensible. What they seem to forget is the rest of the adage they are invoking—based in the science of how rotting apples work—which is that a few bad apples spoil the whole barrel.

This adage…


Oregon’s history of radical resistance is directly linked to its racist roots

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photo: Oregon Historical Society

In the first episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country, the three main characters find themselves in a sundown town—a community where Black people could find themselves arrested, or even killed, if they were found to be outside past sundown. The phrase trended on Twitter, where many white people revealed that they were learning of the existence of sundown towns for the first time. It also prompted many Black Twitter users to share their stories of sundown towns, and even make a collaborative map of confirmed or suspected…

Emily Pothast

Artist and historian. PhD student researching religion, material culture, media, and politics. Bylines at The Wire Magazine, Art in America + more.

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