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Weekly Watchlist: Recommended Viewing from Kara Walker

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In even the most challenging of times, art—in all its forms—serves as a critical cornerstone to our collective wellbeing.

Starting this week and continuing into the near future, our newsletter will switch from a biweekly to a weekly format. In addition to featuring new and classic films drawn from the over 60 hours that comprise our video library, we have invited artists and our own staff to reveal some of the media and activities keeping them at ease during these times.

We hope that you find joy, solace, and encouragement through these weekly digests. From all of us at Art21, we wish you the greatest of safety and inspiration, now and always.

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Watch from home: Kara Walker

We reached out to the community of Art21-featured artists to learn about how they are adjusting to a more distanced way of living.

This week, longtime friend of Art21, Kara Walker, shares her recommendation of filmmaker Wang Bing’s three-part film, Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks.

Ari [Marcopoulos] and I just watched Wang Bing’s incredible nine-hour documentary West of the Tracks and we keep recommending it to people to (help) get a grip on objectivity and empathy. There is no verbal commentary from the director (or not much)—just a man and a camera taking a long hard look at life in a dying Chinese industrial city, at its workers and denizens. It is slow moving, like our lives right now, and perhaps just right for this moment.

Stream on Kanopy with a library or university account

Staff picks for things to watch, read, and hear

Each week, we’ll share some picks shared by Art21 staff of things to watch, read, and hear from the comforts of your home.

Watching: American Ninja Warrior

My buff aspirational heroes in normal times, now extra motivating (and poignant) examples of American health, athletic amateurism, and self-improvement in the face of our collective mortality.

Shared by Nick Ravich, Director of Video Programming and Production (self-admittedly “writing from his own private Mount Midoriyama”); Stream on NBC or Hulu (with subscription)

Reading: How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

A wonderful companion to being more present. It’s for anyone who’s looking to find a deeper connection to our human existence while resisting the attention economy. It’s a beautiful read that will make you happy to have time to contemplate life.

Shared by Lolita Fierro, Associate Director, Major Gifts and Special Events; Available now from your retailer of choice

Listening: Diamond Life by Sade

Spinning on vinyl. Soothing and tender as always.

Shared by Danielle Brock, Assistant Curator; Available now on your streaming platform of choice

Playlist: Teaching with Love and Loss

Compiled by Art21 Educator alumnus, Ty Talbot:

For millennia, artists have explored notions of love and loss, and contemporary artists translate experiences of human connection through complex personal and social lenses. Exploring the emotional glue that binds the broken pieces of ourselves together, these artists investigate how intimacy and human bonds reveal the best of human nature, even in the face of heartbreak and change.

This playlist features several of the artists who I use as exemplars not just for making beautiful art but also for addressing love and loss through vulnerability, connection, and self-discovery. I tell my students repeatedly, “What you make is a direct manifestation of who you are.” The videos in this playlist show artists of all kinds manifesting themselves through expressions of love and loss.

Watch the full playlist.

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As a non-profit organization, we rely on the generosity of viewers like you to help us continue to produce engaging films and educational resources on contemporary artists and art. If you’ve felt inspired by Art21 films, please consider donating today. Your gift will ensure the stories, art, and ideas of the most innovative artists of our time continue to inspire audiences around the world. Thank you for supporting our work.