Charlotte Jansen, Dazed (9/16)
Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's huge London exhibit opens at the Royal Academy next week, and in advance of that show, Dazed's Jansen has put together a primer on the radical Chinese artists you should definitely know about. Birdhead, Rong Rong and Inri, Xu Zhen, Zhang Huan, and Liu Wei are on the list, among many more artists making really cool work.
Nilay Patel, The Verge (9/17)
With its iOS 9 update, Apple included the ability to download apps that block ad content on mobile browsers, known as Adblockers. The problem is, though, that advertising funds the ability to create content. TV shows are actually only 22 minutes long, because ads. Magazine stories are interrupted and continued in back pages, because ads. Nillay Patel explains why "Apple going after Google's revenue platform" will be "a bloodbath of independent media."
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic (9/14)
In last week's reading list, we included New York Magazine's feature on eight men's experiences after being exonerated from decades-long sentences. This week, another piece on mass incarceration in the U.S. gets a slot: Pre-eminent scholar Ta-Nehisi Coates writes masterfully on the history of one of our nation's biggest problems.
B.N. Harrison, The Toast (9/16)
You would have to be living under an actual rock not to know that the former Colbert Report star is now hosting The Late Show, in replacement of the very dad-like David Letterman. So it's only natural to imagine what it would be like if Stephen Colbert were your dad. For instance, if Stephen Colbert were your dad, "you would have grown up calling Neil DeGrasse Tyson 'Uncle Neil,' and on your 12th birthday, he would have named a star after you." Seems about right. Read more about what your life might have been like had Stephen Colbert been your father here.
Rawiya Kameir, The FADER (9/16)
Art has a lot of power. It has the power to express frustration, and to point out paradoxes and hypocrisy. That's what the work of Endia Beal does. The FADER's Kameir talked to Beal about "Can I Touch It?," her series of portraits of middle-aged white ladies in traditional black hairstyles. Beal explains that the motivation behind this series was because, "If I straightened my hair, I was kind of appealing to a norm, to fit in that space. But if I wore my hair like how I normally like to wear it, it became a petting zoo." Check out the full interview.
James Vlahos, New York Times (9/16)
They're making a new kind of Barbie doll. New Barbie can talk, and she's programmed to learn things about the child interacting with it, including whether their grandmother is alive or not. When a doll—especially such an iconic, ubiquitous doll—is able to interact with children, then we must think about how those little ones will eventually look at the world. Vlahos's piece is about the new Barbie's potential impact, and the way in which the doll may be involved in informing gender roles, including "how kids define being a girl." Read more about the new version of Barbara Millicent Roberts on NYT.
Liz Raiss, The FADER (9/16)
"Hundreds of people attended screenings worldwide to get a glimpse at the glitziest event at NYFW; a designation Kanye's designs, with their emphasized anonymity, actively resist," Raiss writes in this piece about Kanye West's Yeezy Season 2 show. That's what happens when the world's biggest rock star slash deity makes clothes, apparently. It's a crazy contrast. Kornhaber wrote an article for The Atlantic titled "For Better or Worse, Kanye West Is Democratizing Fashion," that mentions some annoyance within the fashion world at Kanye's media disruption. But, as Raiss says, "Yeezy Season 2 finds power in anonymity."
Laura Bennett, Slate (9/14)
“I Was Cheating on My Boyfriend When He Died,” “Why Do I Keep Writing About the Time I Got My Heart Broken?,” and “On Falling In and Out of Love With My Dad" are all titles of personal essays that have been published on the web. This article is called "The First-Person Industrial Complex" and it is about "the Internet’s bottomless appetite for harrowing personal essays." Bennett writes about how personal essays have almost become click-bait, with the most shocking headlines and buzzy premises bumped to drive traffic. Which seems kind of...backwards. “My Gynecologist Found a Ball of Cat Hair in My Vagina," for instance, seems like it defeats the purpose of a personal essay. Which is what Bennett means when she writes, "Even when they are graphic and raw, their self-revelations are strategically dispensed," in this must-read longread.