Evolving my attitude about historical documentation and curation

By this point it’s clear that there is essentially a war going on within the music and entertainment industry involving a lot of deception, opportunism, and high finance – people who care not artistic legacy or artists in general, but about power, money, and control. And to this end, they’ve weaponized both crime gangs like that of Whitey Bulger and others – and the US federal government. By which I mean, this relationship between Whitey Bulger and the FBI clearly involves multiple interested and paying parties, including the recording and entertainment industry.

To this end, the way I’d grown accustomed to thinking about artist control and presentation, and about the role of historical documentation – is evolving, because all of this has been weaponized. I’m seeing a very strong pattern now of people positioned as curators, actually acting as thieves and destroyers. Why, and how, would this happen?

It seems to be part of a bigger strategy of control and finance.

It’s really tempting to believe that other people around you are motivated by the same things you’re motivated by. People who are motivated by power or money often believe that others are motivated by the same things. In my case, I am motivated by a desire to protect and uplift art and artists, and to this end, to support freedom of expression, to cultivate safe and stimulating spaces for artists to work, to respect artists’ wishes (within reason) in how they want themselves and their work to presented, to protect artists from damaging and exploitive influences. What I’ve learned is that there are people – and venues – who profess to having this as a goal, but who are actually using this kind of thing as a pretense to feather an attractive, backroom-financed trap. This is what I’m coming to realize, Satyricon was.

It doesn’t mean great art can’t come out of these places – they are venues or back drops for other things that are happening – it just means that for me, in the here and now, there’s a lot of complexity. It means that people linked to these venues and the scenes within them have misrepresented themselves to me for years, and it means they misrepresented themselves to Chris for decades.

In addition to protecting artists safety and their right to control their own work – to be seen when and how they want to be seen and private when and how they want to be private (all within reason of course) – my interest has also been in preserving history, and my assumption has been that people would like history to be preserved and accessible to future generations, that this is a good thing. That it is important to tell different sides of history, and to document and report it as accurately as possible, because this will help future generations (in this case, future generations of artists) chart their own course more safely and successfully, as well as giving homage to the generations who came before, because for an artist, artistic expression is so important. In Chris Newman’s case, his music really was everything to him. He was willing to sacrifice normal comforts and other things that people expect out of life, in order to put forth his music. I think that artists like him who work in the medium of rock and roll really want to be seen and understood in a way that strips away all the superficial B.S. that weigh a person down – social expectations, judgements, petty attitudes. Chris and I saw eye to eye on this and we assumed others involved in art and music would see things the same way, but we didn’t know, and no one told us about all these other forces, and how closely and thoroughly they’d infiltrated our world.

The result of this is that I’m now looking at a world in which it seems that various people are essentially pouring acid over history, trying to dissolve it away, so that only certain artists are left standing – and those artists seem to be in the pockets of more powerful entities. A lot of those artists are dead and basically just revenue streams.

A big part of this is achieved through curation.

I guess you could say that I’m looking at a lower layer now of the world, and it really changes the way I understand things. It is forcing me to reexamine a lot of my assumptions about people, their behavior, and their motivations.

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