COLUMNS

  • ODE INFINITUM

    Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons, by Hannah Frank. Oakland: University of California Press, 2019. 256 pages.

    IT’S NOT EVERY DAY that a posthumously published Ph.D. thesis nudges the world of cinema studies off its axis. All hail Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons (2019), by Hannah Frank, who completed the book shortly before her tragic death in 2017, at age thirty-two, from an illness believed to have been pneumococcal meningitis.

    Frank is not the first theory-minded cine-historian to suggest that with the advent of CGI the history of motion

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  • Strange States

    AMERICA: FILMS FROM ELSEWHERE, EDITED BY SHANAY JHAVERI. The Shoestring Publisher, 2019. 616 pages.

    THE IMAGES DRIFT BY: water coursing under ice, steam rising from rapids, a herd of antelope running in the cold, rivers so blue they seem electric, an “orange splash on the sagebrush.” In voice-over, Babette Mangolte—the French-born filmmaker responsible for this radiant footage of the American Southwest—takes turns reading a dense, digressive text with her collaborators Bruce Boston and Honora Ferguson. With some interruptions, she had spent the better part of a decade in the United States by the

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  • Speak, Vivian

    VIVIAN, BY CHRISTINA HESSELHOLDT, translated by Paul Russell Garrett. Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2019. 186 pages.

    SHE SHOT FROM THE HIP—or the heart, or the gut. From a child’s vantage, most often: the better to go unspotted. For Vivian Maier, whose status as one of the twentieth century’s foremost photographers was only recognized a decade ago, the desire for privacy was bound up with the yearning for information: visual, journalistic, human. Or was it? Our knowledge of Maier is patchy. We know that she split her adolescence between France and her native Manhattan, then spent most of her life working

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  • Ask Me, Ask Me, Ask Me

    The vibrant Toronto-based magazine Impulse ran from 1971 to 1990 and focused on primary texts from cultural creators, such as Kathy Acker, Patti Smith, Joyce Wieland, and Dennis Oppenheim. In the case of nonvisual artists, these appeared in the form of interviews. Impulse[b]—a publishing house that serves as a conceptual continuation of Impulse—recently published a facsimile anthology of Impulse interviews, including discussions with Sylvère Lotringer, Blondie, Paul Virilio, Michel Foucault, and Wim Wenders. Below, Tatum Dooley speaks with Eldon Garnet—the former editor of Impulse—about the art

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  • URBAN LEGENDS

    Tales of the Floating Class: Writings, 1982–2017, by Norman M. Klein. Valencia, CA: Golden Spike Press, 2019. 303 pages.

    IS IT POSSIBLE for critical theory to be anachronistic and prophetic at the same time? Norman M. Klein’s Tales of the Floating Class: Writings, 1982–2017, a compendium recently rereleased by tiny Los Angeles–based publisher Golden Spike Press, compels an affirmative answer, with the ongoing duel—the small initial 2018 printing quickly sold out—between cultural memory and its constant erasure acting as a perpetual catalyst. In other words, the future would be clear enough if we

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  • Hand in Glove

    LIKE WRITING, fisting is both a replicable skill and a rarefied art form. Performance improves with practice; preparation is necessary; and the deeper you go, the closer you get to the heart of the matter. “The movements of manipulating a pen were not so different from what I did to manipulate a man’s innards. One activity made the other possible,” says the nimble, perspicacious narrator of I’m Open to Anything, the first novel by the artist, filmmaker, and writer William E. Jones. The protagonist comes to this realization near the end of the book, finally learning something useful about himself

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  • After Life

    Rotimi Fani-Kayode, the protean “contemporary Yoruban artist,” is known for his photographs—approximately one hundred of them, taken over a mere six years—investigating queerness and the African diaspora. Born in Nigeria, he traveled to Washington, DC, New York, and London, where he participated in the sexual and punk subcultures of the 1980s before his death in 1989 at the age of thirty-four from AIDS-related complications. Here, Grant Johnson talks about the artist with Ian Bourland, whose Bloodflowers: Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Photography, and the 1980s is the first monograph dedicated to the

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  • STET! IN THE NAME OF LOVE

    Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, by Benjamin Dreyer. New York: Random House, 2019. 278 pages

    I DIDN’T TAKE ENGLISH IN COLLEGE. I tested out of it. And I was stoked. Filling out financial-aid forms, backing into a cop car, and getting ringworm all seemed infinitely preferable to reading about how to parse a sentence, and thus I did all of the former and none of the latter. Eventually I landed a series of jobs that required me to at least be able to explain what a dangling participle was; still, every time I look at a style book, I do so through wrath-narrowed eyes.

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  • GHOST IMAGE

    Nearly twenty years ago, artist Adam Putnam came across the photographs of Alfred Cook in the archives of the Frick Collection. Recently, he edited together a selection of Cook’s images for ASMR4, a publishing project Putnam launched in collaboration with fellow artists Dan Torop, Victoria Sambunaris, and Katie Murray. Here, Putnam and Jennifer Krasinski discuss the mysterious Cook, and why these photographs have haunted him for so long.  

    JK: What is known about Alfred Cook?

    AP: Almost nothing. Susan Chore, an archivist at the Frick Collection, sent me as much information as she could find, but

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  • CRITICAL MASS

    Vile Days: The Village Voice Art Columns 1985–1988, by Gary Indiana, edited by Bruce Hainley. New York: Semiotext(e). 600 pages.

    THE FIRST THING to say about Gary Indiana as an art critic is that he was humane. His harshest judgments were arrayed against various forms of cruelty, lifelessness, and greed. That cruelty might be found in the glib sadism of a work like Tom Otterness’s Shot Dog Film, 1977, in which the artist executed an animal he got from a shelter; lifelessness, in the practice of exhibiting art in bank lobbies in the manner of a Chanel display (even if no fault of the work itself),

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  • ALTERNATIVE MATH

    IN HER 1979 TREATISE on language’s limited capacity for communication, “An Inscription / / / A Work in Progress,” Swedish-American polymath Catherine Christer Hennix invokes Sylvia Plath’s radio play Three Women: “It is these men I mind. They are so flat that they want the whole earth flat.” Such resistance might well characterize Hennix herself, whose work, spanning mathematics, music, sculpture, and poetry, is anything but one-dimensional. Though she played a central role in the development of minimalist music in the late 1960s, Hennix has neither performed nor exhibited much since 1976, when

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  • Jeaneology of Morals

    THE JEAN FREEMAN GALLERY DOES NOT EXIST, BY CHRISTOPHER HOWARD. MIT Press, 2018. 416 pages.  

    FOR SEVEN MONTHS IN 1970–71, a young artist named Terry Fugate-Wilcox promulgated the existence of a fake art gallery at a nonexistent address on Fifty-Seventh Street, then the main drag of the New York art world. Fake artists, fake works, a fake director with a Pynchonesque name: You get the gist. He promoted this enterprise, the Jean Freeman Gallery, by purchasing space in a few art magazines for seven ads featuring images of Earthworks-y pastiche; sending out press releases to luminaries such as Lucy

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