Books - 02/08/2024

The Writer Who Made Movies to “Get Out of the House”




Hyperallergic - Reading My Cinema in chronological order, it’s possible to witness the development of one of the 20th century’s greatest minds in the warm waters of a new artistic medium. At first, Duras’s hope for her cinematic adaptations is to “see beyond, to understand further, what I saw and understood when I wrote [the books they were based on].” Soon, however, the temporal nature of film, and the power of the image to allure without explanation, captivated her.
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Film - 01/20/2024

Steve Doughton and Jon Raymond On Earthlings




Senses of Cinema - Earthlings, Doughton’s latest feature, adapted by the director from a short story by Raymond, played at Portland’s historic Cinema 21 theater this past November as part of a celebration of Doughton’s work by the local gallery and performance space ILY2. The film tells the story of Javier (Luis Chavez) a Mexican day laborer who, alongside his friend Diego (Daniel Mora), find themselves at the dinner party of their employer (Kelvin Han Yee) whose incipient loneliness seems matched only by his self-assured paternalism. As the night drags on, all the guests reach unexpected insights brought on by mixed company.
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Film - 12/20/2023

After-Memories of the Shoah in The Zone of Interest




Spike Art Magazine - I walked out of The Zone of Interest feeling horrified and also vaguely proud of myself. “That Jonathan Glazer is sure going to have a lot of angry mobs to contend with when this reaches theaters,” I thought. And, satisfied by my analysis, I took the train home and tried to forget the whole ordeal. But I could not forget. And, after spending enough time haunted by it, I realized I didn’t want to. This is because The Zone of Interest only pretends to care about the lives of the Nazis it forces us to spend time with. Really, it’s a movie about the politics of memory.
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Film - 12/15/2023

Wim Wenders’s Perfect Days




The Brooklyn Rail - In its unabashed desire to center the life of a person whose status typically renders them invisible, Perfect Days appears to offer a lesson in class consciousness not seen since the days of De Sica. Italian neorealism, which flourished after the collapse of Mussolini’s government, was a sensitive response to the destruction and immiseration the country was then facing. Though it was certainly born out of a fidelity to national interests, it helped revive a more positive, sympathetic sense of Italian identity in the wake of fascism. Today, Japan might boast the luxuriant trappings of a well-oiled economic machine, but it’s a machine that requires a large portion of the populace to submit themselves as cogs for the benefit of a plutocratic few. A cinema that could return our collective solidarity toward the marginal and vulnerable feels long overdue.
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Books - 10/01/2023

Geoffrey O’Brien’s Arabian Nights of 1934




The Brooklyn Rail - Between 1927 and 1934, Hollywood underwent a strange golden age. Motion pictures, which had seemed like a baroquely technical hobby at the start of the twentieth century, became one of the most popular pastimes for a rapidly urbanizing, industrialized and self-interested middle class. Cinema idealized such innovations, epitomizing the newly available possibilities of an interlocking world. The movies were a beacon of hope and a symbol of modern progress. Their attributes, and the collective attitudes that informed them, are the subject of Geoffrey O’Brien’s Arabian Nights of 1934.
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Books - 09/05/2023

Anne Truitt’s Journals Strike a Proustian Note




Hyperallergic - The intensely productive period leading up to Truitt’s first show is understood today as a central part of a major art-historic upheaval, in which the Abstract Expressionist paintings of the 1950s virtually leapt off the wall, becoming the “specific objects” of 1960s Minimalism. Though Truitt never identified herself with that movement, it’s easy to see how she got grouped in with it: her sculptures generally lack adornment or representative form, with sharp blocks of color bisecting clean shapes. As a body of work, they are demanding, precise and ambiguous. Their regal simplicity calls for heightened attention. And their titles — “Hardcastle,” “Summer Child,” “Insurrection,” “Bloomsday” — confirm the impression that they have stories to tell.
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Film - 07/27/2023

The Barbenheimer Phenomenon




Spike Art Magazine - Women create; men destroy. If the future is female (which we know from Dior T-shirts) and the past extremely male (which we know from world history), we can contextualize the awfulness of the present while still holding out hope for a more tolerable tomorrow. It will take a strong, brave, impossibly perfect woman to crawl out of the wreckage and put things back in order, but she can do it – she can do anything. This is the teleology of Barbenheimer, a presently unavoidable internet phenomenon inspired by the odd bedfellows Greta Gerwig’s Barbie (2023) and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer (2023) made when they shared a U.S. premiere date.
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Film - 07/20/2023

Giving Up the Ghost




Spike Art Magazine - Under the sway of the enfant terrible and emptied of drama in their stories’ happy endings (spoiler) in museum collections, biopics too often lose sight of what is individual in their great-artist subjects. What sets apart the genre’s best films from so much over-stylized bluster is their clarity about the fact that art-making is work and that certain economic conditions produce artists’ myths.
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Art - 06/16/2023

Eden in the Concrete Jungle 




New York Review of Architecture - If you consider the recent spate of luxury development on Manhattan’s West Side as billionaires building themselves an Eden within the concrete jungle, then the arrival of CHARLES RAY’s Adam and Eve on the corner of 31st and Ninth, bears interesting fruit. The two-figure solid stainless-steel sculpture depicts the biblical couple in their dotage, dressed in modern attire. Adam stands tall, rumpled, and rather proud, as though he’s about to begin monologuing. Eve sits on a stump and looks past him, as though she’s long ago stopped listening. The pair, whose feet nearly touch, leans away from each other in a manner that parallels the dancing tilt of the two SOM-designed Manhattan West towers overhead, while at the same time seeming to disavow any special kinship with these blue-tinted echelons of power. Actually, our oldest putative ancestors look rather cast out, as though they might be preparing to hail a taxi.
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Film - 06/08/2023

Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City




Spike Art Magazine - If he hadn’t become a film director, Anderson would’ve made an excellent watchmaker. Everything he does now has the feeling of clockwork – from his steady, roughly triannual output of new movies to his mechanically precise manner of shooting, the camera always firmly strapped into place. His scripts, dependably co-written with Roman Coppola, likewise contain a panoply of tropes and characters that have become clichés of his own making, which he neither seems to want to abandon nor expand much beyond. The only thing that changes from one film to the next is the scale at which these gear-like motifs fit together and the speed of their churn, as we wind our way toward a credits sequence stacked with household names.
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Art - 06/01/2023

Interview: Ann Hamilton




November - I first met Ann in late 2022 when I attended the opening of her solo exhibition Sense at Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon. The exhibition contained tapestry-like images of birds, rocks and everyday objects captured myopically by a retrograde scanner and printed on lightweight gampi paper. Endpaper collages of fabric and text complemented these works, as well as a subtle audio component of whistling. I was struck by an awareness of my body in space, the tactility of the wall works driving a yearning for touch. A rare gallery exhibition for Ann, the show situated works and themes she has been exploring for decades and served as a compendium for her recent artist book, also called Sense, which is out now from Radius Books.
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Film - 06/01/2023

Cristian Mungiu’s R.M.N.




The Brooklyn Rail - R.M.N. is one of the most honest depictions of xenophobia and tribalism in recent cinema, as well as—perhaps fittingly—one of the least satisfying. Romania is quite the staging ground for such an ordeal: following its 2007 induction into the European Union, the country’s workforce has increasingly left to serve as menial labor for more developed nations therein—leaving its own towns and cities in search of outside labor in turn. It also represents a complex ethnic mélange, with large numbers of Hungarians and Germans in addition to over a million Romani. Talk of ethno-nationalism pervades all corners of this film, though no one can seem to decide who exactly is Romanian enough for it.
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Art - 05/30/2023

At the Cost of Ambiguity: Wangechi Mutu’s “Intertwined”




Spike Art Magazine - Wangechi Mutu’s early work showcases her intuitive command of found objects, whose allegorical context she rigorously assesses and playfully remixes into a fusion of religious, Pop, and Afrofuturist stylings. Throughout “Intertwined,” there’s a sense of effortlessness to Mutu’s critique of Western culture’s most basic signifiers, as though the artist could instantly détourn and refashion the most anodyne of objects into totems
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Film - 03/01/2023

Daniel Antebi’s God’s Time




The Brooklyn Rail - The most memorable scene of God’s Time happens near the start, when the film’s hero, Dev (Ben Groh), bombs down a SoHo street on his bike, grooving to a gospel song in his headphones. It’s telling how simple this moment was to shoot. The main points of interest here are Dev’s outfit, Groh’s ability to ride a bike with no hands, and the scale of New York City behind him—which does a splendid job throughout God’s Time of playing itself. What more does one need beyond Dev’s easy balance to tell us about the way he inhabits this place? Budgetarily spare and narratively abundant, Antebi’s film is a reminder that, while it might be easier to make movies (or live) in this city with unlimited cash, it’s often more fun working out of a sense of resourceful constraint—aiming high and seeing what you can get away with.
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Film - 02/03/2023

Avatar: The Way of Water 


New York Review of Architecture - As astute critics have noted, Avatar is basically just Dances with Wolves in space. In the future, a white man sees things from an Indigenous perspective, turning the tide in a settler-colonial conquest. For The Way of Water, director James Cameron revamps this trite story with tidbits from his other hit films, including revenant bad guys and a giant sinking ship. He compensates for narrative laziness with the best visual effects yet seen in cinema. There's something astoundingly ironic about using cutting-edge technology to tell a story of native wisdom triumphing over technoindustrial will. This movie convinced me that we've finally bridged the uncanny valley of digital world-building. Now, as we float on the cusp of a singularity that would allow us to upload our consciousness, all we want is for it to feel wholesome, natural: like swimming with whales. Only the natural now looks alien to us, and the whales look like equal parts lobster and turtle.
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Film - 01/31/2023

World Cinema Poll 2022


Senses of Cinema - 2022 was a year for rebels, or at least my cinematic viewing practices reflect my interest in them. The old ways aren’t working anymore, and any sense of satisfaction left with the status quo teeters precariously. The ten new films I loved most this year all deal, in one way or another, with the fate of being cast out, and in turn ask important questions about the nature and possibilities of the social contract. Some of them were, on top of this, made with an anarchic or contagiously subversive spirit, and reflect the fact that some of the best creative minds of our age are also fervid, seething sensibilities.
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Technology - 01/23/2023

Comfort Noise




Spike Art Magazine - The world that once incorporated CDs and cassettes – discrete pieces of information that could only be accessed when slotted into the right portals – has disappeared, eaten from the inside by the ever-present web.  Instead of whatever stoner-creep-frat contingent that had once defined Skrillex’s early output as “brostep,” the crowd at Rash was queer, diverse, and self-consciously alt, with hand-knitted hats and buttons pinned to bondage harnesses. They reminded me of the kids I’d hung out with in my hometown’s DIY scene – people who used Modest Mouse lyrics for Tumblr URLs and reveled in being misunderstood. Had this crowd really followed me along the same trajectory, from self-important angst to smooth-brained ebullience? How did we all end up here, listening to hyperpop on the precipice of a new landmark in time?
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Art - 12/14/2022

Ann Hamilton: Sense




The Brooklyn Rail - For much of her career, Ann Hamilton has focused on cultivating environments that reorient the attentions of the people inside of them, providing sensual, probing focus to the textures of everyday life. But the tragedy of installation art is that it does not last. These problematics of iteration go beyond simple logistics of site-specificity, or even the marketability of conceptual art, to the heart of human attention and its capacity for embodied presence. Still working entirely with everyday objects, Hamilton’s recent work has seemed less interested in exuberant combinations than in quiet contemplation, a way of winnowing a transcendental experience down to its core details.
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Film - 12/14/2022

Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All




The Brooklyn Rail - Luca Guadagnino’s films are characterized by tenderness, violence, and attention to detail. Those who, upon hearing that his new project Bones and All (2022) was about cannibalism, assumed it was conceived in light of the actor Armie Hammer’s sadistic sexual allegations will be surprised by this film’s intensity and specificity of vision. Adapted from Camille DeAngelis’s 2015 young adult novel by the same name, in Bones and All, a hunger for flesh manages to transcend its own implications of cruelty. Through Guadagnino’s attentive work, cannibalism becomes a metaphor for closeted queerness: a way of dramatizing both the consummate longing and consonant shame of wanting something you shouldn’t.
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Film - 12/14/2022

The Greatest Films You’ll Never See: Stop!


The Brooklyn Rail - A true creative visionary, Bill Gunn was never given his due in his lifetime. Best known today for his independently-produced Personal Problems (1980) and implacable Ganja & Hess (1973), Gunn’s first foray into filmmaking was actually with Warner Bros., where he was given a surprising level of artistic freedom before doom. Stop! was only the second film by a Black director to be made under the studio system. His hopes of making an au courant sexpot social commentary project were dashed when Stop! was slapped with an X Rating by the MPAA board and shelved. Today, the film has been viewed exactly once on its intended 35mm—at a Whitney Museum screening honoring Gunn’s death, in 1989. But the film was finished, and bootleg copies (digitizations of an execrable VHS version) float about. Reportedly, Warner Bros. still has the original prints, but says it can’t release them due to lost royalties paperwork for the actors or musicians. Watching Stop! in the bootleg format is like looking at a Van Gogh through a keyhole. It may well be a masterpiece, but it’s not like you can tell.︎


Technology - 12/09/2022

Dispatch: Redesigning the New School


New York Review of Architecture - Despite the dozens tuning into the New School Part Time Faculty Union’s Strike School on Monday, there was an air of uncertainty about proceeding as planned. The university, which has been fending off a fair contract with the union since early November, had just announced its intentions to start withholding pay. Against this backdrop, anthropology professor SHANNON MATTERN began her explication of the university’s design ethos and the neoliberal vision it embodies. Reviewing various technologies employed by the New School, from their accordion-style web design (which discourages open access) to their infamous Pentagram-designed typeface (which algorithmically emphasizes flexibility and modularity—qualities the adjunct staff say have been excessively required of them since the pandemic)—Mattern left open the question of which was better: the power of small, course-correcting interventions or a more holistic “raze and rebuild” strategy. For a striking faculty of thousands now facing down the prospect of unemployment, the latter option felt like a breath of fresh air. As one adjunct put it: “The university believes it will be fine without faculty, so maybe faculty [should] ask ourselves if we can be fine without the university.”︎


Film - 10/30/2022

NYFF 60: Hide and Seek




Senses of Cinema - In an age that increasingly relies on visualisation to communicate, we come up constantly against a strict grammar, both in cinema and across other media, dictating what kinds of images are shown in which context. In the free-expressionist West, which lacks official censorship but is lately culturally obsessed over self-censorship and mass censure, these rules can feel ironclad despite being implicit. As an artistic medium, the imperative of cinema is to question this grammar, to employ it but also to subvert it when needed, in favour of the specific messages the filmmaker hopes to convey. Conventionality is often the enemy of these messages – and it was the antagonist of this year’s anniversary slate.︎


Art - 10/14/2022

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.
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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.
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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 Ensemble (XRE)




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.
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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”.
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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. 
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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. ︎