Art and cops

“All paintings are prison windows.” —Yves Klein

I was listening to a podcast about Yves Klein last night. I’m not going to do him justice here, but what struck me was Klein’s desire to go past fixed objects into a new space of creation. His work insisted that we think about what we aren’t seeing—the immaterial ideas and assumptions and the raw material and labor that are hidden when we look at something.

That transformation feels relevant to some of the cultural conversation happening these days, especially for white, cis, straight people. You can no longer just look at a cop—you see the beatings, the oppression, the white supremacy, the sexual violence, the millions of dollars diverted from social good, the political corruption, and the mind control that doesn’t even save their own from suicide and self-harm. When we start to see the unseen, we realize that we’ve been taught to accept things that aren’t acceptable, including the idea that we can’t make a difference, because we can.

Below: Yves Klein, “Le Saut dans le Vide (Leaping into the Void),” 1960

And whether you realize that you could look into your local police department and start a conversation with your neighbors about what you learn, or that you could read the minutes of recent community board meetings, or you could google around to see who is doing anti-police or defunding work right where you live, it just takes a few steps to go from being someone who is against police brutality to someone who is doing something about it.

Or maybe it’s not that issue for you. Maybe it’s something else. You get what I mean.

I just really think—especially now when things can feel so abstract and overwhelming—doing, doing, doing real things is what will make you feel better and will make change. I’ve been working with a local bail fund to go down and bail people out of Rikers and it is so easy and the greatest feeling. Literally I just get the info and the check from the fund, walk over to the bail office here in Brooklyn, fill out a form and hand over the check, and a human being gets out of jail. Of course, it is just the start of their journey out of a violent carceral system, but it’s real. Yes, bail funds need your money. But the world needs your presence.

More soon and housekeeping stuff below. I’m going to make these short like this going fwd and get them out more often and they won’t always be about cops—Mikki


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  • This issue dedicated to Ann Friedman, who already received an email about Yves Klein from me this morning

  • Some older newsletters people seem to like:

    On Defeat

    "No One Will Save Us But Us"

    We're Going to Need Love and Anger

    Inspiration, Persistence, and Moral Mettle (Under Authoritarianism)

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