Why It's Getting Harder to "Stick It to the Man"
Nothing reflects the complex mood of our era like gaming, says Nato Thompson, where the establishment has worked its way into the anti-establishment ethos.
Nato Thompson is Artistic Director at Creative Time, one of New York’s most prestigious and exciting arts organizations. Thompson has organized such major Creative Time projects as The Creative Time Summit (2009–2015), Pedro Reyes’ Doomocracy (2016), Kara Walker’s A Subtlety (2014), Living as Form (2011), Trevor Paglen’s The Last Pictures (2012), Paul Ramírez Jonas’s Key to the City (2010), Jeremy Deller’s It is What it is (2009, with New Museum curators Laura Hoptman and Amy Mackie), Democracy in America: The National Campaign (2008), and Paul Chan’s Waiting for Godot in New Orleans (2007), among others.
Previously, he worked as Curator at MASS MoCA, where he completed numerous large-scale exhibitions, including The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere (2004), with a catalogue distributed by MIT Press.
His writings have appeared in numerous publications, BookForum, Frieze, Artforum, Third Text, and Huffington Post among them. In 2005, he received the Art Journal Award for distinguished writing. For Independent Curators International, Thompson curated the exhibition Experimental Geography with a book available from Melville House Publishing.
His has written two books of cultural criticism, Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the 21st Century (2015) and Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life which was published in January 2017.
What’s common to most movements of dissent, is that they don’t stay pure for long. Art curator and cultural critic Nato Thompson uses gaming to show how the anti-establishment ethos within those games has been commandeered by the very thing it sought to stick it to: "the man". The same goes for big corporations like Coca Cola and Apple, who position themselves as the ordinary human. Institutions use dissenting art and culture to ensure profits. "The spirit of anti-establishment gets into the establishment," says Thompson, and he perceives that as a broad phenomenon. America, especially in 2017, is deeply anti-establishment. Thompson wonders whether that once-useful ethos has tipped over from constructive to destructive. Nato Thompson’s most recent book is Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life.
Nato Thompson’s most recent book is Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life .
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