Home > Archive >New Issue of that rag hali:
RK Comments
Mon, Apr 30th, 2012 01:05:04 AM
Topic: New Issue of that rag hali:
RK Comments

While everyone in rugDUMB should be delighted the new “Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia", aka ALTICALSA, aka the Islamic department, have finally opened RK cannot help bemoan the fact few if any non-Classical rugs have been included.

We have also learned this will be the case for the next 'rotation' and only some years from now will supposedly non-Classical rugs in the Met's collection finally have their day in the sun.

This is nothing but blatant, and rather unbecoming, prejudice on the part of everyone who was involved in the five year plus renovation of the old Islamic galleries, and trust us there were many people involved including the new, and old, director of the museum, three heads of the Islamic department, Walter Denny and numerous other consultants, benefactors and lesser mortals.

We say prejudice but we could just as easily have said ignorance. For at this point in time in oriental rug studies it should be patently clear, to anyone with enough experience to differentiate airport art from genuine historic examples of non-Classical weaving art, these works are just as important and seminal as Classical ones.

But, alas, the ability of the monikers Safavid and Ottoman to trump and stomp into oblivion those like Tekke, Arabatchi, Konya, ShahSevan and a multitude of others, known and unknown, has shown itself to be omnipotent.

When will this end?

Frankly RK is losing hope we will in our lifetime ever see change.

And those of you who also know the difference should be equally concerned and pessimistic.

Nuff said about the Met.

Next up, and the real reason for our comments on the latest edition of that rag hali, concern the large amount of coverage given to Turkmen rugs.

Again we guess we, and everyone else who collects them, should be happy but, again alas, the lip service and less one can rightly call that coverage really does little to further appreciation, let alone the scholarship, Turkmen rug collecting surely needs.

Lead off batter was alberto borelevi, better known to savvy ruggies as boring-levi, and his 'review' of the David Sorgato Gallery's recent Turkmen rug sale-a-thon.

Boring-levi, who has proven himself less than capable with Anatolian Village rugs -- let's all remember his inability to realize the dodds/LACMA bogus late genre period “bellini” rug is not the genuine article – can now add Turkmen rugs to the list. Yesshhh, can't those dimwits editors at that rag hali figure out letting a Turko-dummy like boring-levi scribble a review about Turkmen rugs accomplishes nothing when such an author can only, and obviously, mouth pointless hype?

But as bad as boring-levi's effort was it shines bright compared to the disappointingly hollow, hipster patter Michael Rothberg dishes out in his 'review' of the hoffmeister collection publication.

Unlike boring-levi Rothberg knows a good something about Turkmen rugs, his collection being more than ample proof.

However RK could pick a number of bones with him, the major one being his ignoring our in-depth coverage of the failures that publication's text contains.

To his credit Rothberg does not ignore some of those errors but he does gloss over them, pussy-foot around and only obliquely point a few of them out. This does little to inform readers just exactly how deficient the text, mostly written by Frau Comrade Tzareva, truly is.

Sure, everyone wants to put their best foot forward but when that best foot, and the other as well, immediately ends up in his mouth what purpose does that political correctness serve.

For instance to call hoffeister's “personal commentary” on some of his pieces “interesting”, instead of properly characterizing it as say-nothing and meaningless, is nothing but euphemism to the max.

Of course Rothberg knows that rag hali's senior editor Daniel Shaffer was intimately involved in the book's production and, therefore, really dissing anything about the book would surely have not gone over well.

But shouldn't a review be unbiased and more than an advertisement?

This is a stupid question in rugDUMB where reviews are almost always nothing but glad-hand publicity and back-slapping for those in favor.

Come to think of it, something even more rare than proper reportage would be reviewing anything done by someone outside that rag hali's chosen clique advertisers and supporters.

The hoffmeister book's text, written by Tsareva and himself, is weak and so is his 'collection' of Turkmen rugs when compared to their published elsewhere best of types.

RK does not have the time or energy to demonstrate the shortcomings in Rothberg's generous and laudatory review but we urge readers to compare it to our detailed and documented comments, Part I of which appears here:


And other parts of our extensive review can be found here:


Before we sign-off we must reiterate our disappointment with the recent deYoung 'Anatolian Kelim' exhibition and extend it to now include that rag hali's review, which is also in this issue.

While one could hardly remain unimpressed by seeing in person the deYoung's Anatolian Kelim collection, this review, written by that rag hali's still wet-behind-the-ears editor ben evans, leaves any astute reader gasping for solid ground after reading a sentence like this:

In fact, I almost didn't want to go into the exhibition, trying to savour the anticipation but curator Jill D'Allesandro has cleverly placed outside the gallery in full view the beautiful, unique red and blue saf (HALI 169, pp.66-67).

Now please, mr evans, who could possibly believe what you write or, perhaps more to the point, who could not believe after reading the rest of your review you should have remained outside and not bothered to go into the exhibition or pen your review?

And just to inform mr. evans, the spindly architectural form that Kelim exhibits -- notice if you will the top heavy weight of those 'mirhabs', which could never be properly supported by such inadequate side-walls -- is about as non-architecturally correct as can be.

And furthermore such comments about the architectural qualities this and other Anatolian Kelim exhibit are outmoded and stale – so much so even a Kelim novice like evans should be able to figure out.

But mr evan's review is long on similar say-nothings and abysmally short on anything resembling cogency, forget expertise.

And congratulating a curator and museum for dusting off a collection like the deYoung's Kelims and re-presenting it several decades later with not one new idea, not one new element of scientific inquiry or analysis, or even some additional historical commentary rings hollow.

It is truly a travesty the deYoung has done absolutely nothing to try and learn more about the Anatolian Kelims McCoy Jones's money bought and presented as a gift.

The great French literary icon Voltaire said it well:

“History (is nothing but) fables agreed upon”, a comment rugDUMB typifies in spades.

And finally RK can not fail to question the asinine logic behind that rag hali's attempt to convince anyone the roach-motel Capri rug show justly “Fills a Need”, which is the title of another questionable ben evans article.

It is sure rugDUMB has many needs that need to be filled, the most important to raise appreciation for the art of historic Oriental rugs. But, pray tell, how does a down-market rent-a-room in a dump of a motel to try-to-sell-a-rug off the bed therein do anything in that regard?

To call evans a cheerleader for mediocrity would be glorifying him. To call him a dunce would be telling it like it is.

It is easy and glib to criticize, especially when it comes to that rag hali, but RK's readers know we rarely, if ever, fail to document our views or to make suggestions how to improve things.

What rugDUMB needs is high profile museum exhibitions where forensic science and art historical analysis are combined to enhance the undeniable visual power and beauty of oriental rugs, kelim and related weavings.

RugDUMB also direly needs scholarly publications, where new and innovative ideas, and not just old restatements or dubious undocumented ones, are presented.

RugDUMB needs honest reportage, not the continuing transparent hype a journal like that rag hali masquerades as unbiased.

And lastly, though we could go on, RugDUMB needs a vocal and knowledgeable audience to speak up and not silently keep quiet about the inequities and self-serving efforts the self-appointed hierarcharcy perpetrates.

By the looks of things time has run out and salvage operations are all any honest observer could hope to see.

So let's get going before it is too late to rescue even that, as well as the diminishing interest the public at large has of late begun to express for this art area.

Lord knows this was not always to case...

And by the way, the rumor mill has it michael franses's big plans to mount a rug show in Milan have fallen through and it will not happen.

This is no loss as innovative museum exhibitions, not selling shows regardless how 'elegant' and 'high-class' promoters like him claim, are the recipe RugDUMB hungers for, and not until franses and other so-called honchos wake up to the fact their leadership is feckless can anything be changed.

RugDUMB is sinking under the weight of their ineffective solutions and inabilities to conceptualize a real way out.

Time demands action and hoping things will change, without removing the reasons for that need, are as stupid as believing the fables the pages of each new issue of that rag hali contain.

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