Broken Social Scene: Dave Hickey On Diversity


For Broken Social Scene, a new, semi-regular feature, we comb social media for the most perplexing arguments and nonsensical dust-ups that the online art world has to offer. Thankfully, the Internet rarely fails to satisfy.

Critic Dave Hickey, whose name is essentially synonymous with cantankerous, has been making Facebook waves this month with some musings regarding multiculturalism. “Jerry Saltz sent me an email the other day,” he wrote in the March 19 status update that initiated a lively conversation. “He was wanted to know which exhibitions and artists had raised my consciousness about ‘diversity’ and ‘multiculturalism.’ My answer was easy: None.” Yowza, Dave! Explain?

“The kerfuffle about ‘diversity’ and ‘multiculturalism’ has occupied the passions of sociologists and artists for nearly thirty years. I have always been aware of this feckless inanity, and since I take the long view, I don’t care. Diversity and multiculturalism are nothing more than the penultimate phase of culture and ethnicity dissolving into one tasty, entropic, global soufflé, because it all going away, and mono-cultures do not need the word. Cultures and ethnicities are dissolving into one another all around us. Twenty years from now the word ‘multi-culturalism,’ or even the word ‘culture’ itself, will require a footnote because it’s over. Turn the page.”

Understandably, this rubbed a few people the wrong way. “Srsly!!! Just dismissing culture as a symptom of your (plural and prob white) ennui is a little rich Mountain top. You can have it all b/c you have access to it all. Pathetic,” wrote one commenter, to which Hickey responded, “Let’s just fucking relax and have a cookie.”

Things got weirder from there. “Just an observation, as an art lover- the crowd at Julian Schnabel’s vernissage at Blum&Poe LA last night was way more multi-ethnic than when Fred Hoffman showed Julian 20+ years ago. This is a good thing an evolution definitely,” another commenter chimed in. To which Hickey retorted: “YOU PEOPLE COLLECT ETHNICS LIKE SWASTIKAS ON THE SIDE OF YOUR FIGHTER PLANE.” 

Hickey later followed up his initial status update with one that expressed his own confusion about why everyone got so riled up in the first place. “I think the one advantage I have in our conversation is that I have spent a half century writing, reading and thinking about art and literature. As a result I have seen the way things change. I have travelled enough that everything looks the same or on the verge of being so. Lunch is lunch.”
—Scott Indrisek @indrisek
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)