“Who Wants to Rule (over The 99%)?”

11 10 2011

“I do!  I do!”

That’s what the Vsian Vrt Museum is hoping your kids will shout with glee after spending time in the museum’s new “Who Wants to Rule?” activity room.  As with previous brainchildren of the museum’s Education and Public Programs department, this activity room instills in our children the ideals of top-down rulership, class/caste hierarchy and exploitation, patriarchal dominance, and female servitude.

Who Wants to Rule Activity Room

Welcome to Fantasyland: Become the Ruling 1% at The Asian Art Museum.

Asian for All poster

Privilege Made Popular?

All of this comes at a time when the entire world is watching public outrage against the ruling class spread from Occupy Wall Street to your hometown.

Privilege made popular, in the midst of growing populist uprising.  Is this what they really mean by “Asian for All”?

Shameless and seemingly never-ending, it’s uncanny how the Vsian’s educators get it oh-so-wrong every time.  Or completely natural when you consider that “lead funding for the Asian Art Museum’s Education and Public Programs is provided by the Bank of America Foundation.”

After all, who benefits most from the cultural privileging of privilege and inequality?

Bank of America playing card

Audacity of Asian Art Museum's lead funder of Education and Public Programs

The museum’s new logo, an inverted A, is supposed to symbolize the unexpected, but in terms of cultural politics, it’s simply more of the same:  In 2009, the activity room was “Daimyo for a Day”, where your young child could play-act the role of samurai warlord, and the museum’s blog featured photos of adorably cute children exploited to promote activities like weapon-making [pdf], all while our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raged on 8 years and counting.

Sasha, 7, painting "Homes for the Homeless"

Occupy Wall Street sign of the day: Sasha, 7, painting "Homes for the Homeless", from boingboing.net

V is for Vendetta

But this is the New Vsian, a fun, fresh break with the past, whose bold-faced agenda is unabashedly ticket sales/income generation, as widely reported in the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle.

So much for the dream of a city-owned, taxpayer-funded, knowledge-based public museum whose primary duty is the stewardship of the cultural health and welfare of its communities, through the production of knowledge and creation of meaning.  In reality, it’s all about fully exploiting the strategies, tactics, and language of The Corporation, in the $400,000 Brand New Branding campaign which is all about marketing and money-making.

Society sacrifices its environment, education, and moral stance to just to try to become rich. — Ai Weiwei, preeminent Asian contemporary artist whose unlawful three month detention this spring was completely ignored by the Vsian Vrt Museum.

How have the financial ways and means of the ruling 1% and their ‘logic’ of bottom line greed become accepted or even celebrated as the driving force behind a civic institution whose primary function is putatively cultural and in service of the common, public good?

In the words of one effete cultural critic, “The ideological force of neoliberal culture has been amazingly effective.

"Oh . . . It's On" sign on Wall St.

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