Art - Autumn 2022

Cruel Logic: “Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott”

Spike Art Magazine - Colescott’s early years — which are passed over too briefly in the New Museum’s single-floor retrospective — demonstrate his innate sen- sitivity to opacity and color, as well as his fascination with perspectival depth as the primary organizational tool of the painter. He was initially an unsatirical admirer of the European masters; early works include respectful homages to John Singer Sargent and Édouard Manet, including a recreation of Manet’s Olympia (1863) that ignores the racially-charged aspect of the subject’s accompanying maid in ways that the later Colescott would never.︎

Film - 10/07/2022

The Returned Gaze: Ukraine in the Documentaries of Sergei Loznitsa

Film Quarterly - One of the most distinctive elements of Sergei Loznitsa’s films is his treatment of crowds. In extensive, static framing, often from a high angle, Loznitsa’s panoramas absorb dozens or hundreds of people as they pass through public spaces. In long takes, he allows the viewer to distinguish certain subjects and follow them as they blend into or stand out of the teeming masses. Typically eschewing interviews, voiceover, or any other form of individual testimony, Loznitsa’s estranged engagement with his subjects can feel disorienting to an American perspective. Unlike Frederick Wiseman, for example, whose documentaries dissect institutional power by shrewdly highlighting individual operators, Loznitsa films from a distance, capturing patterns of behavior on a grand, collectivist scale. The result is a perspective that enfolds the countless lives affected by events like revolution or war.︎

Film - 10/03/2022

What I Watched This Summer

Spike Art Magazine - In the wake of the great collapse between high and low culture, situational context is the last form of distinction. To its credit, the art world has figured this out far better than the people who program and distribute films, which is why gallery screening rooms are so variable in terms of light, space, and seating arrangements — and almost always allow you the freedom to walk out of something you hate. At their best, films can anticipate and inform their screening environments, and not just in special cases, like Memoria, that depend on a certain level of sensory deprivation to flourish. Here are some of the movies I saw this summer, with my recommendations on the ideal ways to view them.︎

Film - 09/01/2022

Andrew Semans’s Resurrection

The Brooklyn Rail - A powder-keg of a psychological thriller, staging a practically ancient battle between the sexes, there is nothing self-consciously topical about Resurrection. Shot in Albany last summer by director Andrew Semans, and starring Rebecca Hall in an unforgettable performance, little else distinguishes it in terms of time or place. It could have been made in any American city, at any point during the past half-century. Perhaps because of this, the narrative unfolds with a strangely totemic heft: a modern myth about gender and motherhood in the same vein as Jordan Peele’s films have laid bare new truths about race. Inherent in its violence is a kind of catharsis, in which the protagonists shed blood not only to save themselves, but to protect what they signify to the world today.︎

Film - 06/17/2022

7pm in Cannes

Spike Art Magazine - Attending the festival for the fourth time this year, I’ve become obsessed with its little games of exclusivity. I find my own fealty to them both thrilling and perverse. The first time I came here, as a “senior producer” for a company both penniless and microscopically small, I realized the only place I could afford to stay in was a mobile home, situated at a campsite about a forty-minute bus ride from the main festival grounds. I was horrifically embarrassed at the thought of my poverty standing out at what is commonly considered one of the most glamorous events on the planet. I soon realized hardly anyone can actually afford this kind of lifestyle, and it’s only about how far people go towards pretending.︎

Film - 06/01/2022

Audrey Diwan’s Happening

The Brooklyn Rail - Adapted from an autobiographical novel by the French author Annie Ernaux, Happening (2021) is director Audrey Diwan’s second feature. It is rare to see a foreign film emerge with such urgency. In a process which industry insiders know usually takes the better part of a year, the project was picked up by IFC Films following its September debut at Venice and arrived in domestic theaters nationwide less than a month after its American premiere. True to its title, the movie seems to carry with it the urgency of an all-consuming event. A deeply affecting encounter with illegal abortion, this is a story audiences seem capable of paying attention to only selectively, a subject just as likely to be rejected as absorbed.︎

Film - 05/28/2022

Interview: Albert Birney & Kentucker Audley Discuss Strawberry Mansion

Senses of Cinema - Without much help from public funding, the potential impact of independent American cinema hinges on the ability to share resources, creatively collaborate, and design one’s productions with intuitive vigour. Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney embody all these aspects of vanguard independent film. Though each has gained recognition for his own discrete projects, they have come together twice now, as co-directors, to make commercially-minded feature films that satirise commercialism. In Sylvio (2017) and the newly released Strawberry Mansion (2021), nonconformist characters struggle with identity and integrity in hostile environments.

Film - 04/29/2022

“Great Freedom” and the Paradox of Desire and Repression

L.A. Review of Books - In Sebastian Meise’s third feature, fantasy, sexuality, and the state coalesce in disturbing and portentous ways. Set almost entirely inside a West Berlin prison between 1945 and 1969, Sebastian Meise’s film follows Hans Hoffmann (Franz Rogowski) as he serves out several sentences for the crime of “deviant sexual practices” — gay acts criminalized under Paragraph 175 of the West German penal code, and we are shown, time and again, how every part of who he is puts him back inside the cell. If Jean Genet’s Un chant d’amour is a metaphor for queer desire in the 20th century, Great Freedom provides a pernicious update to that parable. ︎

Art - 04/24/2022

Mungo Thomson: Time/Life

Pollinate - Thomson’s show contains a tremendous glut of images, all of which bear traces of their making as printed material. Like Richard Prince, he seeks to document them objectively, cropping and centering the pages of his guide to clearly depict a sole subject, rather than interlocking visual/textual information. The Time/Life guides to food, art, exercise, and travel were attempts to be encyclopedic about the world through pictures. In this way, they predicted the internet—which, as the 21st Century’s repository of visual culture (mainstream and not), dwarfs all its predecessors to an unimaginable degree.︎

Books - 04/21/2022

Diane di Prima’s Autobiographical Work Never Received the Same Attention as Her Poetry

Hyperallergic - On October 27, 1964, Freddie Herko—the Warhol Factory Superstar, inaugural Judson Dance Theater member, and di Prima’s closest friend for over a decade—leapt out of a fifth floor window on Cornelia Street. His dramatic suicide seemed to shake something loose from the poet’s hard-edged austerity. Di Prima began composing a letter to Freddie, which she continued nearly every day for the following year, recording memories of their friendship alongside everything else she had lived though as a struggling artist up to that point︎

Art - 04/18/2022

Gala Porras-Kim: Precipitation for an Arid Landscape

Pollinate - Colonialism, collecting, and the hegemony of the archive are the subjects of Porras-Kim’s solo exhibition at Amant. Born in Bogotá, Colombia and currently based in Los Angeles, much of her work can be understood as a research of research: delving into the minutia of museum practices, storage management, and preservation techniques to get at the assumptions which undergird our institutional archives. As she deftly demonstrates here, such anthropological practices form the bedrock of the West’s self-ascribed dominance regarding the way it relates to other cultures, both living and dead.︎

Art - 04/02/2022

The Films of Jonas Mekas Are More Often Discussed Than Seen

Hyperallergic - Jonas Mekas is best known today for his tireless advocacy for the aesthetic possibilities of the motion picture. He also practiced what he preached, producing hundreds of films, which range in length from mere seconds to five-hour epics, and which subsume his relentless practice of recording daily activity and observations into a cinematic form he basically invented: the film diary. The Jewish Museum’s retrospective, The Camera Was Always Running, is the first U.S. survey organized around his many miles of footage︎

Art - 04/01/2022

Interview: Extended Reality Onsemble on Gender Equity and Representation in Public Space

Pollinate - The Extended Reality Ensemble (XRE) is a collaborative network of artists, programmers, and curators working to change the way we encounter and engage with these monuments with a revisionary lens. March marked the launch of their #MakeUsVisible art campaign, which uses Augmented Reality (AR) to digitally impose new statues honoring women and non-binary people into the overwhelmingly masculine space of public statues and memorial squares in New York City. By connecting 31 emerging and established digital artists with specific memorial sites in New York City, XRE has reimagined the environment around us and the ingrained truths we are often told about men, history, and culture.︎

Film - 03/09/2022

Iuli Gerbase’s The Pink Cloud

The Brooklyn Rail - Brazilian auteur Iuli Gerbase’s directorial debut will forever be known as the prophetic apogee of quarantine cinema—for those who have the stomach to get to know it in the first place. As we are still living through a pandemic, the film cannot be covered right now the way most movies are in most outlets—that is, through the scrim of its entertainment value.︎

Books - 03/09/2022

Wolfgang Hilbig’s The Interim

The Brooklyn Rail - In 1985, Wolfgang Hilbig was granted a yearlong visa to West Germany thanks to his status as an author—which he promptly overstayed, not returning east to his native GDR until after the fall of the Wall. A version of what happened in between is captured in his hectic and festering Interim, and in the plight of its pathetic author-protagonist C.

Books - 03/04/2022

Interview: Missouri Williams’s Philosophical Novel of Postapocalyptic Survival

Bookforum - Missouri Williams is an author, editor, and playwright currently living in Prague.
Her first novel, The Doloriad, is an apocalypse narrative of biblical proportions which l boldly engages theological questions about humanity’s will to live and right to survive. I spoke with Williams recently on the eve of The Doloriad’s release.︎

Books - 01/06/2022

Searching for (Artificially) Intelligent Life

Hyperallergic - Anarchic in tone and structured like a Mobius strip, Eugene Lim’s new novel Search History explores mortality by way of Buddhism, cybernetics, and cinematic concept of the “MacGuffin”.

Art - 12/20/2021

Assemblage Art for the Age of the Online Shopper

Hyperallergic - In his solo exhibition at Harkawik, Darren Bader brings a conceptual playfulness to found-object assemblage, updating Marcel Duchamp’s concept of the assisted readymade for the digital age. ︎

Books - 11/03/2021

A Freewheeling Translation of Dante’s Purgatory

Hyperallergic - By almost any standard, Bang’s translation is the most liberal interpretation of Dante available in English. But there moments in Purgatorio where she seems to improve the text beyond its original constraints, expanding its meanings with the help of several hundred years of history. ︎

Film - 10/05/2021

Embarrassment Of Riches: The 59th New York Film Festival

Senses of Cinema - This was a remarkable year for Lincoln Center’s renowned New York Film Festival - not just by shambolic pandemic standards, but by any standard. The festival’s program, both its Main Slate and more experimental Currents, was one of the strongest in recent history – a revelation and a comfort to those of us whose favourite pastime has been hollowed out by theatre closures, postponed releases, and the pittance of virtual links. ︎

Books - 09/01/2021

Motor City Underground: Leni Sinclair Photographs 1963–1978

The Brooklyn Rail - Unlike so many other exhibition monographs — which are often treated as something between a program guide and show souvenir —Motor City Underground presents detailed reproductions of Sinclair’s photographs, alongside a wide variety of testimony about her revolutionarily antiracist White Panther Party. ︎

Books - 08/21/2021

A World Made of Words

Hyperallergic - Garielle Lutz is an author who makes at least part of her living writing and editing grammar textbooks. In her new collection of stories, Worsted, Lutz’s sentences are among the most original in modern English, their linguistic specificity making them virtually untranslatable. ︎

Art - 08/07/2021

Plum Cloutman: Emergency

Pollinate - Each of the sixteen paintings in “Emergency,” Cloutman’s first show in the United States, depicts a private scene with beguiling intensity. The spatial configuration is tight, as if seen through a keyhole. These glimpses are more complex than they initially appear, with little games of perspective and arrangement playing out inside whorls of paint. ︎

Books - 05/24/2021

André Gide’s Pioneering Autofiction

Hyperallergic - Intended as a satire of the Parisian Symbolist milieu, Gide’s first novel Marshlands is a sendup of the misery and transcendence of writing itself. ︎

Fiction - 05/22/2021

Every Day is Like Sunday

12th Street - The back tire of Caleb’s bike was softer than he would have liked. It had been a little underinflated on his last trip as well, a ride across the Manhattan Bridge several days ago to water Ally’s plants. Ally was an architect enrolled at Cooper Union. They had met at a bar near the college and things had moved somewhat quickly since then. That was back when bars were still open, before she had fled the city to ride out the pandemic at her parents’ place. He was the first person she had asked when her plants needed watering, and so he had gone and done it. ︎

Books - 04/02/2021

Stories of Memory, Loss, and Paranoia

Hyperallergic - The short stories of the contemporary Danish author Dorthe Nors are a masterclass in minimalism — and an opportunity to ponder what remains in texts so stripped bare. In her new collection Wild Swims, other people present both an opportunity and a threat. ︎

Technology - 04/02/2021

Escape Velocity: NFTs and the Promise of Utopia

Pollinate - In the infancy of the internet, it was thought by some that we were on the brink of a global communist revolution, as new technologies for sharing would obviate the need for private property. In this context, the raging phenomenon of the non-fungible token, or NFTs, sounds like a bad joke. ︎

Books - 04/01/2021

Maria Stepanova’s In Memory of Memory

The Brooklyn Rail - The 20th century was filled with world-historical events of such magnitude that they seemed to promise an end to history itself. This sense of bewilderment is the real subject of Maria Stepanova’s In Memory of Memory, which tracks own genealogy, going back through four generations of Russian Jews, and presents it to the reader like a cadaver on a table. ︎

Books - 02/06/2021

The Last of the Storytellers

Hyperallergic - In his essay on Nikolai Leskov, the German literary theorist Walter Benjamin writes that “the art of storytelling is dying out. Encounters with people who know how to tell a story properly are becoming ever rarer. […] It’s as if a capacity we had considered inalienable, the most reliable of all our capacities, has been taken from us: the ability to share experiences.” ︎

Books - 01/30/2021

Fernando Pessoa and His Fictional Coterie of Poets

Hyperallergic - The Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa concealed his identity behind aliases, called heteronyms, who served as guides to living. His master heteronym, Alberto Caeiro, a pastoralist, is perfect in ways Pessoa never can be, and in ways that his readers can only aspire to. ︎

Film - 12/29/2020

Malina: Film as Ashtray

No. 3 - Ingeborg Bachmann’s life was a Molotov cocktail of philosophy and violence.  In Werner Schroeter’s adaptation of Malina, a book which she considered her “imaginary autobiography,” a woman has an affair with a man she can barely understand, all the while negotiating a troubled relationship with her lover, who seems to know her so well he practically owns her. ︎

Books - 09/17/2020

A Brief History of Private Expression

Public Parking - All my life, I have been compelled to write my way through stretches of time alone, and I have never spent so much time journaling alone as I do lately. Examining Sei Shonagōn’s remarkable Pillow Book, written in Japan circa 996 C.E., for continuity in a sense of candid self-regard. ︎

Books - 09/05/2020

César Aira Portrays Artforum as an Object of Desire

Hyperallergic - The novelist transforms the renowned art magazine into an ambiguous symbol of everything its reader might lack. To stumble onto Aira’s book while searching for the periodical might feel a little eerie, like entering a vortex into which your very understanding of Artforum capsizes in the wake of an author at the height of his autofictional powers. ︎

Books - 09/01/2020

Andrei Monastyrski’s Elementary Poetry

The Brooklyn Rail - Monastyrski, scarcely known in this country but influential in Russia since the days of the Soviet Union, is a founding member of the Collective Actions group, largely credited with the advent of contemporary Russian performance art. His anthology, originally distributed samizdat, lives in the boundaries between the written work and its imperative, attempting to craft objects of all sorts that activate when looked upon. ︎

Books - 08/01/2020

Climbing a Symbolic Mountain With a Surrealist Writer

Hyperallergic - Long out of print, Mount Analogue, René Daumal’s cult classic, offers a tale of renunciation and self-acceptance. Our hero’s quest to arrive at the pinnacle of human enlightenment begins with a work of criticism he doesn’t remember writing. ︎

Technology - 06/21/2020

Humanizing the Machine: Selection and Synthesis in New Media

Journal of Art Criticism - In the past century, apparatus-based art forms have moved toward modes of production that foreground selection as a textural quality. In a world that now accommodates and archives everything under the sun, these modes of artistic craft have only a passing preoccupation with the myth of inspired originality, yet they represent an organic form of derivative production, one which still places an individual in the role of producer — an original and unitary artist-subject as opposed to, say, a neural network. ︎

Film - 05/31/2020

In La Chinoise, Jean-Luc Godard Attempts to Revolutionize Himself

No. 3La Chinoise presents the inflection point in Godard’s career, from New Wave darling to alienated Commie radical, and for a brief moment we are able to watch where these impulses overlap, and relish the sumptuous stylism of their fusion. The iconoclast was always itching to deconstruct the artifice of cinema — the rules he broke, such as showing the camera in mirrors or cutting sound altogether, still shock after some sixty years. ︎

Film - 05/15/2020

Ema and the Next Chapter of Movie-Watching

No. 3 -  As theaters go dark across the globe, and film festivals from Tribeca to Cannes postpone their selection indefinitely, one wonders where to set our sights in hopes of seeing cinema reemerge. The next great surge of films may be in danger of getting lost or forgotten in the midst of a crisis which, ironically, has produced a greater demand than ever for revelatory storytelling. ︎

Books - 04/04/2020

Jonas Mekas’s Diary Reveals His Uncertain Sense of Self

Hyperallergic - “Why do we read a writer’s journal?” asks Susan Sontag in her 1962 essay “The Artist as Exemplary Sufferer.” A half-century later, instead of catching our authors naked, unawares, we now find them dressed and ready to greet us in the sketched-out corners of their mind, caught up in the work of self-preservation.︎

Books - 02/08/2020

Raymond Roussel’s Stories Are Based on Complex Word Games

Hyperallergic - A precursor to literary surrealism, Roussel employed pastiche and mathematics to prioritize form over content. He was hailed as a pioneer and genius by André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, and Jean Cocteau, and had a formative influence on American poet John Ashbery. ︎

Art - 11/01/2019

Janine Antoni: I am fertile ground

The Brooklyn Rail - Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery has experienced renewed vigor as a site of artistic presentation. The latest addition is I am fertile ground, a site-specific project by the Bahamian-American sculptor and performance artist Janine Antoni, located in Green-Wood’s catacombs. ︎