Letter from the Editor

The Scourge of the Earth

by Sarah Chacich


This issue of Black Cat isn’t trying to do anything fancy outside of offering conversation during a time when the idea of such is more complicated than it seems. When thinking of a way to jump into the current moment and connect art to this there seems to be no way to avoid the identity politics, and crushing headlines that precede the stuff of nightmares.

What part of the personal and the political do you want to talk about? The nuances of sexual misconduct in the work place? Any of the hundreds of specific cases from Weintstein, Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, to Louis CK? Or the fact that the art world, which can often seem to hold itself strangely in higher moral regard than the outside world, is susceptible to these same problems? Do you want to talk about what we should do to combat these scenarios? Or ways to keep momentum going? Ways of translating the energy of the moment into conversation and legislation? Personally, I’m interested in opening up the conversation to what it means NOT to be complicit in the re-education of each other in a time like this. I do not mean to imply the year 2017 or 2018 is any more rife with sexual misconduct than any other, just that this moment of cultural awareness is unfolding in a time of virtually unlimited access to the exchange of ideas and information across countless platforms.

2017/2018 is full of stories such as my own; “woman raped by more powerful man,” “ woman harassed by more powerful man,” “woman subjected to humiliating tasks by more powerful man.”  The difference is that now these stories are headlines. The dilemmas are easy to imagine, if not experience first hand. For example, you finally have the opportunity to collaborate at a well-established gallery with an artist you respect, only to find that he is the one who raped your friend. What if you landed your ideal job and then discover that your boss exposes himself to all entry level employees? But “#metoo”is everywhere now, there is symbolism in sisterhood, and people debate online the philosophies of feminism.  The outlying wave of consciousness being floated into my Facebook feed protects me- shocks me when I actually have to deal with these situations first hand. It's as though it took this overwhelming force of numbers to somehow prove that these wrong doings are actually wrong.  On deeper inspection it becomes obvious resistance isn’t found solely in the picket lines, but also in the less sexy notion of radical self- care.

When the cache of our current favorite headlines; sexism, racism and espionage has expired, it seems our only strength is to stay in character and battle the scourge of the earth through the force of our will and with our best intentions. This of course is dubious if that means our character is no better than that of American Psycho’s invincible man Patrick Bateman.   In other words, on introspection, who are we really? How are we determining what makes a sex act despicable, and how can we be woke to the problems that ail us?

This issue of Black Cat isn’t as much about being radical on paper, but in praxis, in the exercise of respecting that we are learning, and that we are realizing that combating the scourge of the earth doesn't have to be something dramatic, but can take the form of a humble friendship between galleries, or a frank discussion between artists. This issue is a reminder that sometimes it takes a horrific event to bring out our best true colors, so we can see them at least once in our life.