Bits: Godspeed, Pussy Riot, and Me

Godspeed You ! Black Emperor. Photo Tom Ă˜verlie,NRK P3, via Flickr
• The amazing (and reclusive) Montreal collective Godspeed You ! Black Emperor was awarded the Polaris Music Prize Monday night for their album Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! The band didn't show up to receive their jumbo-sized check, though. Instead, they sent a rep from their record label who announced they'd be using the $30,000 prize to buy musical instruments for inmates in Quebec prisons. Later they released a statement about the prize and accompanying soiree, noting three "quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe":
-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.
-organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a novelty-sized cheque doesn’t serve the cause of righteous music at all.
-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS FUCKING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise.
• With massive cuts at newspapers over the last decade, museums are turning into media organizations, a topic I was invited to discuss -- along with Sree Sreenivasan, the Met's new chief digital officer -- in this month's Museopunks podcast.

• Imprisoned Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova began a hunger strike Monday, protesting inhumane conditions in the prison where she's held and claiming a senior jail official threatened her life. Sentenced to two years for her role in the August 2012 protest "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral, she says she'll contintue the strike "until the administration starts obeying the law and stops treating incarcerated women like cattle."

• I recently interviewed Dia Art Foundation director Philippe Vergne about Thomas Hirschhorn's recently closed Gramsci Monument, controversial Times critic Ken Johnson's opinion on the piece, and how Hirschhorn's monument to an Italian philosopher represents both Dia's future and the best of the art world. 

• I also previewed Doug Aitken's cross-country art train Station to Station, and then recapped its stop in St. Paul. It was okay.