After publishing a breathtaking 123 pieces on issues like corruption, elections, global warming and surveillance, in 42 countries around the world, the Creative Time Reports (CTR) editorial team is taking a moment to reflect and devote an entire edition to our top picks—pieces we feel are exemplary of our mission to amplify artists’ voices in the public discourse on, and interrogation of, contemporary global issues.
Marisa Mazria Katz, Editor
“Kuwait: A Legacy of Corruption Confronted” by Monira Al Qadiri
“Some people say I am corrupt, but I don’t call it corruption, I call it kindness.” So goes the languorous and imaginative Arabic monologue accompanying Monira Al Qadiri’s dispatch detailing her interpretations of how greed and malfeasance pushed Kuwait’s stock market to undergo one of the largest crashes in history. Al Qadiri’s five-minute film, which trains the camera’s eye on a fluorescent-drenched Kuwaiti stock exchange filled with dishdasha-clad men talking with one another while hundreds of numbers hover on screens above, was one of the first on CTR. It was also one of the timeliest, as it made its debut just as the country was dealing with a scandal involving bribery of government MPs—coined the “the Kuwaiti Watergate.” Al Qadiri’s piece articulated the possibilities a site like CTR could have on disrupting an often less-than-nuanced news cycle and proffering a different way to understand crises around the world.
Laura Raicovich, Editorial Director
“Turnkey Tyranny: Surveillance and the Terror State” by Trevor Paglen
The heart of Trevor Paglen’s eloquent argument is simple: When governments are faced with a crisis they look to available tools to end the crisis. While the point of departure for Paglen’s piece may be Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA programs like PRISM and Boundless Informant, the artist incisively connects the dots, showing how inadequate the response of the United States (or any state, for that matter) to economic, environmental, human rights or other crises may be if all it has in its reserve are eavesdropping and war-waging capabilities. As citizens, we must interrogate the instruments our governments deploy in response to each perceived crisis, not just in terms of how they are being used now but also how they may be dispatched in the future. Paglen’s proposition, then, which the Snowden revelations underscore, is that we may, in fact, be too late.
Kareem Estefan, Associate Editor
“Redacted Histories of the Space Race” by Lisi Raskin
What does Star Trek’s Mr. Spock have to do with defense contractor Northrup Grumman, U.S. elections and Nazi rocket scientists? In Lisi Raskin’s “Redacted Histories of the Space Race,” everything is intricately and hilariously connected, recalling the paranoid logic of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. In a monologue narrated by a split persona one might call East and West Raskin, the Cold War’s arms race and space race converge to open a window onto the ideology of “American exceptionalism.” It’s a dizzying whirlpool of historical fact that sounds like conspiracy theory, yet Raskin breaks even the heady concept of “fetishistic disavowal” into a simple paraphrase of the United States’ tragicomic realpolitik: “I know very well that these men are Nazis, but they are also fantastic rocket scientists—and we need fantastic rockets!”
Todd Florio, Social Media Editor
“Going ‘Diplomatical’ at the UN” by Negin Farsad
When the first line of a dispatch called “Going ‘Diplomatical’ at the UN” is: “It’s General Assembly time, bitches!”, you have your first hint it just might be humorous. Standing in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York City, comedienne Negin Farsad does her very own rendition of Jay Leno’s ask-people-questions-on-the-street-and-laugh-at-how-dumb-they-are, yet in this three-minute video we quickly see the people she interviews are comparatively smart, informed and funny. This was one of CTR’s earliest pieces and is still one I recommend to folks I want to impress with how freakin’ hilarious our artists’ views on serious news often can be.