For quite some time now RK has been too disinterested in the carpet world and busy with other more enlightened pastimes to spend time commenting on the oriental rug scene as energetically as we formerly dealt with the subject.
But this does not mean we have given up entirely providing the one and only contra-voice to the continuing nonsense and worse that now characterizes oriental rug collecting, as well as the ever increasing downward spiraling descent of interest on the part of all participants -- from museum curators to dealers to collectors.
The only demographic we see outside this situation is, believe it or not, the general public that continues to be interested in seeing examples of weaving cultures, especially non-urban village and nomad ones, and learning about them.
Regrettably for dealers of both new and antique rugs this fascination on the part of John and Jane Doe does not translate into them wanting to buy oriental rugs for the floors or walls, nor to start a collection.
Blame for this deep disconnect can only be placed squarely on the shoulders of the supposed guiding lights, self-propelled big honchos and greedy grosse machers of the oriental rug world. You know people like michael franses, dan walker, jon thompson, louise mackie, walter denny, dennis the cheat and thief dodds and others we could name.
Plus let’s not forget to include that rag hali magazine, which BTW is the subject of this thread.
Well, at least their latest issue 185 (autumn 2015).
We surely do not wish to waste too much of our holiday-time commenting on all the ridiculous posing and pasturing those who toil in that rag hali’s cramped office quadra-annually put inside its declining quality of paper and cover stock pages.
Our comments will be brief, however, considering all the critique we have laid on former issues (and this one definitely continues those identical paths) readers cannot possibly be puzzled why we distain this magazine’s efforts.
Beginning with the ‘editorial’ ben, still as wet behind the ears as he was when he first assumed the editor’s job, evans wrote we had to chuckle for calling it an ‘editorial’, when it is far more nothing but a self-promoting publicity press release for that rag hali’s newest money making scheme (hali tours), is in the end nothing but more hali-speak.
The not so fine line between unbiased and biased reportage, or editorializing, has always been a stumbling block for that rag hali but now in the fading sunset of this magazine’s existence it is woefully out of control.
The fact michael franses once again owns this loser magazine is surely the reason, as franses is the rug-world's greatest deceptionist and proven, absolutely incorrigible self-promoting slob.
But back to evans and his editorial, which is basically nothing but an advert for that rag hali’s tours presented under the editorial’s rubric “Travel Broadens the Mind”.
Really now, you have to laugh at such stupid transparency.
As this closing sentence makes abundantly clear RK offers no misinterpretation:
“If there is one thing that Hali has done consistently over the past 37 years it is to constantly provide new perspectives on antique carpets and textiles, so to be able to continue to do in such a direct and immediate way refreshes my enthusiasm, knowledge and experience in a way I could not have imagined just a few years ago.”
Let RK translate hali speak for those without a handy enigma machine.
If there is one thing that Hali has done consistently over the past 37 years it is to constantly feather its own bed, and those of a small favored group, at the expense of all others; to provide for its own self-interest at the expense of reality and truth, and to be able to continue to do in such a direct and immediate way boggles the mind of any intelligent and knowledgeable observer.
Plus how a twit like evans believes this refreshes his enthusiasm or his paltry level of knowledge and still obvious inexperience in any way, anyone other than what a lazy dolt salary-man like him could have imagined would be paying for his way through this world just a few years ago, is equally mind-numbing.”
That rag hali’s problems start with employing an empty cranial cavity know-nothing like evan and end with a corporate ethos and culture that puts self-promotion, and the promotion of their advertisers regardless of fact, against presenting a true and accurate picture of antique rug collecting and all the problems associated with this art area.
Let’s now have a peek into some of the articles in this issue.
The first titled “Washington Heights” extols this past summer’s pseudo-icoc and textile museum opening, as if these affairs were anything but a dismal display of how far down low an icoc can go and what a complete travesty and failure moving GH Myer’s Textile Museum from its former location to a new tasteless, prefab looking building on the George Washington University campus.
RK has railed to no end about the stuffed-shirt feckless morons on the textile museum’s board, their grossly inept chairman bruce, aka big mouth, baganz, and the decade long destruction Myer’s Textile Museum suffered at their hands.
This article, again authored by ben evans, pretends all is well with both icoc and textile museum when, in fact, both are nothing but shells of their former selves and now nothing but in name only.
Happy face evans write’s “…the ambitious scope of the exhibition..” was a “…reminder of the scope and depth of the (museum’s) collection…”. Too bad every other review, and there were scant few, mentioned how light-weight and inadequate that exhibition, which was the inaugural one, actually was.
But OH NO you will never read truth like that in a magazine like that rag hali which is so accustomed to never revealing the pimples and warts on the face of any rugDUMB event, particularly ones they are involved in or sponsored by their favored clique.
Even calling what went down in DC this summer an icoc is nonsense, as the supposed “academic program” was as grossly inadequate and inconsequential as the textile museum’s potpourri exhibition.
All this is laughable but the following statement by evans is a major belly-laugh:
”This (icoc) helped to underline the importance and potential reach of such conferences in engaging museum and collectors, researchers and curators, all of whom have the shared goal of furthering the appreciation of antique carpets.”
These are nothing but the same trite hollow words RK has heard uttered by turko-poseurs like evans for the past 30 years and still not even an inkling of them has become apparent. In fact, oriental rug interest, research and studies is on a declining slope thanks to such worthless homilies.
As equally fit for a stand-up comedian’s rap is another article “Get weaving on the web” authored by francesca fiorintino, whose name is probably familiar to RK’s readers thanks to our exposing her plagiarizing an article we wrote and her using a copyright image of RK’s without consent or approval.
Worse yet fiorintino denied reading our article and using our picture until RK sent her 100 percent positive proof. She then said she ‘forgot’ she had seen it.
Yeah right, some honest broker of information this woman is, huh?
Her article, and it is no wonder that rag hali published because it begins
“Rug information is now available to the largest audience ever (thanks to the internet). Indeed, this could surpass the two other groundbreaking events in the history of rug studies: the launch of the International Conference on Oriental Carpets (ICOC) in 1976 and the founding of the specialized magazine Hali.”
For God’s sake who could possibly scribble a more brown-nosed comment, one that is about as valid as saying Donald Trump is the first presidential candidate to tell it like it is.
Please now RK could name far more significant ‘ground breaking events’ like the publication of Joseph McMullan’s eponymous publication of his collection or how about the publication of “The Bosphorus to Samarkand”, which put kelim and soumak flatweaves on the map.
Obvious plagiarist fiorintino’s head ain’t screwed on straight, and the rest of her paean to the glory of the internet is equally flawed.
The fact much of what appears on the internet concerning antique oriental rugs is far from accurate and often unreliable is acknowledged by fiorintino, who compares this problem with information was in the past conveyed in books.
Frankly, though RK knows how often old rug books presented inaccurate information, this pales compared to the wild-west character of the internet and the immediate ability of anyone, no matter how ignorant, to present themselves as a pundit or worse a rug expert. Give RK the old books any day.
“Then we have social media” fiorintino says “where mobile and web-based technologies are used to create instant forums through which individuals and communities can share and discuss user-generated content.”
Calling this a major new and significant development could only be done by someone who has never even once ventured into the steaming morass of bickering, back-biting, food fight mentality which not only characterizes but actually exemplifies the facebook and other website sponsored forums RK has seen and heard about.
And the “profound effects” web technologies can have in allowing anyone to voice his or her opinion online is surely no virtue to bray about, as most of those who are brave enough to post their opinions online are far less reliable than those who in former times wrote and published books.
Regardless of francesca fiorintino and others like that rag hali who are expecting the internet to improve things in RugDUMB the past 5 years of what has happened online portend this is highly unlikely.
While RK agrees the internet has the potential to enlarge the dissemination of information and find new audiences for it fact remains the same obstacles that have always been there will still be there.
And those like fiorintino who believe “…online information may become a fresh driving force for rug studies…” are, in our opinion, nothing but hopium smokers.
The last sentence she wrote makes this conclusion abundantly clear:
“But considering the quicksilver nature of the medium, any new findings should undergo a serious evaluation to avoid undermining the reputation of rug scholarship”.
Methinks ms fiorintino needs not only to gaze into a different window on the future but also to gaze into her dressing-table mirror today.
After all how reliable can someone, who plagiarizes and then absolutely refuses to admit it until 100 percent proof is produced and then uses the lame excuse she ‘forgot’, ever be considered?
The internet’s chances of becoming a viable and valuable tool for oriental carpet research are about as bleak as big mouth baganz and the textile museum’s hype that the textile museum is “new and improved”. Sorry, fans, it surely ain’t improved.
Then, RK can’t avoid mentioning an advertisement by moshe tabibnia appears in this issue of that rag hali on pages 52/53.
We cannot help but remember tabibnia telling us he ‘doesn’t need to advertise’.
Well, that was a few years ago and we can only interpret his doing so now implies business at 3 via Brera ain’t so great.
This couldn’t happen to a nicer more deserving guy!
BTW: RK knows tabibnia’s acquiring the collection of Marino Dell’Oglio(aka the Wher collection) might be his swan song as finding buyers for Marino’s pieces is never going to be as easy as it was for tabibnia to steal the collection away from michael franses, who bought many of them for Dell’Oglio for little to no commission/profit after being promised the chance to resell them when Marino decided it was time to sell.
Again, in our opinion, the screw-job tabibnia engineered in franses’s direction couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.
The main article in this issue is “Variety and Virtuosity”, written by Rosemary Crill curator of the Victoria and Albert Indian department.
RK knows Crill and she is a genuine scholar whose work, like this article, is on a high standard.
It is by far the most significant piece in issue 185 and we will let readers see for themselves the difference between it and the rest of the pabulum printed between its not so glossy covers.
The runner-up to Crill’s piece immediately follows it. Entitled “The Best Kept Secrets of Budapest” it, too, is on a high standard and presents a very worthwhile overall survey of the Budapest Museum of Applied Arts large carpet and textile collection.
The last article RK will swing our bat at is the ‘survey’ of Caucasian embroideries that rag hali claims will “…reveal their true worth”.
That rag hali’s “…partial records from 1989 to the present show about forty (such) items, including a handful of repeat appearances. However, it is hard to detect any statistical pattern in the results over time”.
What else is new?
First off since these embroideries are of greatly varying ages and quality it would be impossible to make any judgments based on so few examples from so many divergent groups and clusters.
Then of course is the fact auction prices are never reliable to show anything other than what a specific piece was worth on a specific day.
There is no other statistical or monetary import to auction results…period …end of discussion.
The tres obvious comments author Daniel Shaffer interspersed between the prices certain examples made at auction falls far short of fulfilling the article’s declaration it would “reveal their true worth”.
This is typical presumptive hali-hype…any further questions?
PS: The continued repetitious mention of that rag hali morphing itself into a ‘tour group operator’ running through this issue is droll and boring, not the least being the final article (page 136) titled “Hallowed Holbein”.
Again this article is nothing but a masquerade charade to one last time hyperventilate the worth of hali tours.
That is until the next issue, watch and see.