Nicholas Krebs

I passed by the Hans Haacke diptych for years as an undergrad at Eugene Lang College and never paid it any meaningful attention. It wasn't until I attended Milano that it stood out a lot more. During my time at Milano, you could walk around 72 Fifth Ave and find the building full of notepads from the Altria Group (formerly Phillip Morris) and I didn't know why.

It was later that I learned that 72 Fifth Ave itself used to be known as the Phillip Morris building and served as its early 20th century headquarters. The Altria Group has also been a major donor to Milano as recently as 2008 (hence the notepads floating about).

When I encounter this art now, I'm reminded of the tension often brought up at the school that we present a very socially just image to the world, but often engage in morally conflicted behavior. I feel a desire for the university to uphold or at least engage with the values expressed through the various art collections it displays and holds. A hope that the art that remains here for so long could offer guiding principles in a way that our changing mission statements and governing structures could not.

In conversation with our current divestment efforts, should art like this diptych have accompanying text that describes our efforts to improve our social responsibility or times we have failed?

Given that we have taken the Altria Group's money, should we display art that criticizes a donor?

What other pieces of art around the university illustrate similar tensions between social critique and The New School's actions?