Editor: Ben Davis
In recent years, Kanye West’s attempts at breaking out of music into fashion and art have been received with casual (if not outright dismissive) interest from art commentators. But the release of his contentious video for “Famous” over the weekend—wherein West plus a cast of twelve celebrity silicon models cavort in a riff on painter Vincent Desiderio‘s Sleep—has predictably swept the cultural sphere into a conversation about art, fame, and the art world narcissism that artnet News’s own Christian Viveros-Faune has diagnosed.
Given the video’s polarizing effect, it’s hard not to give some serious consideration to West’s latest project. Desiderio himself rose to West’s defense in a recent interview with the New York Times.
It does seem, however, that an element of exploitation is at work in the new provocation. Skeptics have brought these concerns to the fore, the sharpest of whom is Lena Dunham. In a Facebook post, the writer/director framed her reaction to the piece in relationship to her own artsy background, describing memories of being raised by artistic parents who primed her to appreciate the “rabble-rousing” of Carolee Scheemann and the heartbreaking clarity of Carrie Mae Weems‘s photography, among other difficult-to-digest work.
Despite an appreciation for such provocations, the millennial generation’s premier public intellectual takes issue with the video’s attitude towards women:
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