Houston museum penalizes Latino art critic for being a bully
Argentinian Rodrigo Cañete was awarded the prestigious Peter C. Marzio Prize, but art world associations demanded that he not be awarded it. The reason? A blog.
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Rodrigo Cañete, a famed Argentinean critic who has lived in Europe for two decades, has as many awards as he has enemies, and he has earned them on merit.
A few days ago, the International Center for the Arts of the Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (ICAA/MFAH) decided to award him the prestigious Peter C. Marzio 2020 prize for an essay that Cañete wrote in the 1990s. But a few days ago the institution reversed its decision and announced in a press release:
"As announced by the ICAA last March 30, the 2020 Peter C. Marzio Award for Outstanding Research in Latin American and Latino Art was awarded to Rodrigo Cañete for the text he submitted. Shortly after the announcement of the award, both the ICAA and the Award Jury were informed about other writings by Mr. Cañete that are incompatible with the rules of use in our institution. Under these circumstances, the award has been rescinded."
The "other writings of Mr. Cañete" to which the Houston Museum refers are the posts that the art critic has been making on his blog LoveArtNotPeople since 2012, which have become the buzz of the art world for commenting without mincing words on the private lives of artists, critics, gallerists, and other members of the community. Something that both the institution and the numerous cultural associations that complained seems to them to be an "ethical" attack incompatible with receiving a prize and they describe the website as a "platform for bullying".
However, there is no one who hasn't read it, at least to find out what the vapid critic has to say about them.
Although the ICAA foundation admits that its aim is to "provide professional projection to the remarkable contributions made by Latin American and Latinx artists" and that it does not tolerate disrespect "be it abusive and excessive language or discrimination in any form", Rodrigo Cañete perceives what happened as a boycott against him and as "lynching by white bourgeois women with too much free time and all paid for by the state", he told Infobae without mincing his words.
The critic also assured that "Argentina is a very damaged country, but the spectator refuses to see it. That's why the Argentinean art that generally triumphs is that prepared, as a coiffeur, for the public that doesn't want to see it".
Nosotras Proponemos, one of the associations that requested that Cañete's award be withdrawn, explained that the reason is "his hatred towards women, trans and older adults, his racism and fatphobia, the bullying campaigns, harassment, psychological and moral harassment."
Meanwhile, the Argentinean Association of Art Critics (AACA) argued that beyond the quality of his work, "our concern points to the legitimisation that an award of this nature, granted by a prestigious institution, attributes to a person who publicly and systematically pronounces himself by exercising symbolic violence towards artists and colleagues".
Argentinian critic Florencia Battiti, vice-president of the AACA, rejected in declarations to Infobae that they wanted to cancel the critic - "he can continue writing", she said - and appealed to the ethics of the profession and the need for practices such as those of Cañetes and his virulent comments not to be legitimized on a global level.
Rodrigo Cañete was undersecretary of Cultures during the government of Eduardo Dulhalte in Argentina, in 2002, and also advisor to collectors, former art dealer for Morgan Stanley in London, where he lives, and has just published Historia a contrapelo del arte argentino (Sudamericana).