For those of you who don't know the term NewSpeak let RK enlighten you.
In George Orwell's most famous, and highly prophetic work "1984", he described the central authorities revisionist philosophy, which affected all spheres of human existence, as NewSpeak. For instance Peace is War, Love is Hate, Beauty is Ugliness, Truth is Falsehood, guess you get the picture.
Reading the announcement published on the hali website concerning dan walker's assumption of the Textile Museum director's job we couldn't help remembering Orwell’s NewSpeak.
Here's what hali has to say about walker's career:
"Dan Walker brings to the TM job an appropriate record as a diligent, level-headed, hands-on academic expert on oriental carpets and textiles, in particular those from the Mughal, Safavid and Ottoman realms. Educated at Bowdoin College and Harvard, as well as in the US Military, where he served learned Farsi and served in Iran, he was first Associate Curator and the Curator of Ancient, Near Eastern and Far Eastern Art at the Cincinnati Museum of Art from 1975 to 1988, and since then has served for almost two decades as the Patti Cadby-Birch Curator of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, effectively the most senior curator in the Islamic art field in the USA, if not the world.
In Cincinnati, Walker curated and authored catalogues for exhibitions of 'Oriental Carpets from Cincinnati Collections' (1976), and 'Pride of the Princes: Indian Art of the Mughal Era' (1985, with Ellen Smart). He also curated and catalogued the 1982 Asia Society exhibition in New York of 'Oriental Rugs of the Hajji Babas'. While at the Met, in addition to being responsible for the museum's acquisition of their early Anatolian animal carpet in 1990 (see HALI 52) and for overseeing the safe hand-over in 1994 of the famous Sanguszko carpet to Japan's Miho Museum (HALI 74), his most impressive achievement has been the wonderful 1997 exhibition and catalogue, 'Flowers Underfoot. Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era'.
In addition to articles in HALI about Indian classical carpets (1982, 1997) and small-silk Kashan rugs (1994), he is also the author of an important essay on Ottoman prayer rugs focusing on the example from the Markarian Collection at the CAM (The Markarian Album, 1985), as well as an account of the Turkish rugs (mainly Ballard Collection) at the St Louis Art Museum, in a special 1988 edition of the St Louis Museum's Bulletin.
Walker has some daunting challenges to meet in Washington, not least of which is to provide the solutions demanded by the 'new-broom' attitudes of Baganz and his fellow trustees, whose stated aim is to make the TM more relevant to the wider public appreciation of carpets and textiles, especially among a younger generation of potential enthusiasts. As for the Met, his departure opens up one of the plum jobs in the Islamic art world, and we can probably expect to see a highly competitive selection process completed in time for the reopening of the Met's Islamic Galleries after renovation."
For someone who has been involved in the 'academic' side of the rug world for decades the amount of original 'scholarship' he produced is almost laughable. To ignore this paltry output, which is visible proof of walker's capability or is it incapability to prove himself as a scholar and leader, typifies Orwell's NewSpeak.
This is nothing new as hali and the rug world has long been NewSpeaking and the rug world is now conditioned and, in common parlance, so brain-dead it accepts NewSpeak as fact.
We mention this not to put walker or those who chose him down, and we hope our rational on that point is very clear. But we are not going to swallow this NewSpeak version that pictures walker as anything other than the affable, chair-warmer museum functionary he is. He surely hasn’t proved himself, in ours or any other rug-world savants eyes, as anything else. And hali resuscitation of his ‘achievements’ does nothing to prove otherwise – that is unless you subscribe to NewSpeak.
About the only point we do find consensus with concerning the hali blurb, which is nothing more than a pile of totally transparent NewSpeak, is the need for change at the textile museum and the need to broaden the public's awareness of the history and beauty of woven art.
With that as the central issue we are aghast anyone could believe an old-school broom like walker could do anything other than further the status quo or at best put a new ‘face’ on it.
His past performance displays no brilliance at doing anything other than that.
So as the old saying goes " Hope for the best, expect the worst" and RK.com is doing just that, expecting the worse.
There are a number of other examples of NewSpeak in that announcement but RK grows weary of dealing with the rug world acceptance of NewSpeak revisionist philosophy - after all the bottom line in the LACMA/dodds fiasco is the seller's NewSpeak claims about his rug. And since RK.com has proven them all to be as specious as Saddam's WMD, we are beginning to realize the 'rug public' is so indoctrinated and afraid to think for themselves we are, again as the old saying goes, "spilling pearls before swine".