• Summer Reading


    Stuart Hall (1932–2014), the Jamaican-born British theorist who was one of the founders of the field of cultural studies, gave a series of talks at Harvard in 1994. The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation (Harvard University Press), edited and introduced by Kobena Mercer with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr., draws from those lectures and promises to be essential reading for those seeking to understand Hall’s tremendous impact on scholars, artists, and filmmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Glenn Ligon is a New York–based artist.


    Because of Deepak Unnikrishnan’s

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  • Jean Louis Schefer’s Ordinary Man of Cinema

    The Ordinary Man of Cinema, by Jean Louis Schefer, translated by Max Cavitch, Paul Grant, and Noura Wedell. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2016. 224 pages.

    CINEMA IS THE SOLE EXPERIENCE where time is given to me as a perception.” This statement, cited by Gilles Deleuze in the second chapter of Cinema 2: The Time-Image (1985), seems to clarify and crystallize the thesis of his book: Cinema does not just represent time but can allow us to perceive a direct presentation of time—in Proust’s words, “a little bit of time in a pure state.”

    The films that have watched our childhood.” In an essay written

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  • Lisa Robertson’s 3 Summers

    3 Summers, by Lisa Robertson, with artwork by Hadley+Maxwell. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2016. 120 pages.

    THE BOOK’S pink-and-yellow ombré cover—depicting that dazzling moment of the sky at sunrise or sunset—offsets a pair of white-framed spectacles with rose-colored lenses. The air here is so smooth and flat that the title can be scribbled onto it with a broad-tipped blue marker. In “Rose,” the final poem of Lisa Robertson’s newest collection, we learn that the speaker dons such glasses to an ambivalent outcome: “Yet after a full week of rosy vision, I remained surly and withdrawn as

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  • the collected essays of Luigi Ghirri

    The Complete Essays 1973–1991, by Luigi Ghirri; edited by Michael Mack and Izabella Scott; translated by Ben Bazalgette and Marguerite Shore. London: MACK, 2016. 239 pages.

    IS IT PARADOXICAL for a photographer to resent modernity? Perhaps, and yet the late Italian marvel Luigi Ghirri (1943–1992) sometimes did, or so he implied. In a newspaper column from 1989, he recounts one of his frequent driving excursions in Emilia-Romagna, a region thick with the then rapidly industrializing rural vistas that populate many of his images. He ruminates on the high-tension wires threading the roads between

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  • Peter Gidal and the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative

    Shoot Shoot Shoot: The First Decade of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative 1966–76, edited by Mark Webber. London: LUX, 2016. 288 pages.

    Flare Out: Aesthetics 1966–2016, by Peter Gidal; edited by Mark Webber and Peter Gidal. London: The Visible Press, 2016. 288 pages.

    IT WAS NOT a shot heard round the world. It was more like a birth announcement, couched in playfully telegraphic syntax and supposedly cabled to Jonas Mekas, a founder of the New York Film-Makers’ Cooperative, in 1966: LONDON FILM-MAKERS COOP ABOUT TO BE LEGALLY ESTABLISHED STOP PURPOSE TO SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT STOP NEVER

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  • Jonas Mekas’s Movie Journal

    Movie Journal: The Rise of the New American Cinema, 1959–1971, by Jonas Mekas. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. 496 pages.

    I BEGAN READING Jonas Mekas’s Movie Journal column in the Village Voice in 1961, three years after it first appeared and roughly around the time I saw his first feature film, Guns of the Trees (1961), at the eclectic New York film showcase Cinema 16. Chalk it up to callow youth and an inchoate sense that women were most valued as muses or if they filmed flowers, but I was not receptive to the emerging movement that Mekas would dub the New American Cinema and certainly

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  • D. A. Miller’s Hidden Hitchcock

    Hidden Hitchcock, by D. A. Miller. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. 208 pages.

    ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S FILMS have always invited what Freud called “wild analysis.” (“You Freud, me Jane?” Tippi Hedren’s character says to Sean Connery in Marnie [1964], as he forces her to free-associate.) Indeed, it’s hard to think of any other filmmaker who has been called on to prove so many points by so many critics. And it’s hard to think of any other filmmaker who has embarrassed us quite so thoroughly, by showing us, time and again, that we aren’t nearly as clever as we thought we were. “The New Yorker

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  • Douglas Crimp’s Before Pictures

    Before Pictures, by Douglas Crimp. New York: Dancing Foxes Press; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. 308 pages.

    IT STARTS LIKE a classic bildungsroman from the mighty island-city: It’s 1967, and a young writer from a beautiful, bigoted town called Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, escapes to Manhattan to find himself. A decade later, he’s made his mark: It’s called “Pictures,” and it alters the course of art and its discourses.

    What makes Douglas Crimp’s Before Pictures so remarkable is not just its subject—the art historian and AIDS activist’s early years leading up to the epoch-defining 1977

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  • Charles Musser’s Politicking and Emergent Media

    Charles Musser, Politicking and Emergent Media: US Presidential Elections of the 1890s. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2016. 288 pages.

    EVERY FOUR YEARS, the world gets hooked on two competitive extravaganzas—the Summer Olympic Games and the US presidential elections. The similarities are obvious; in fact, the only real difference is size. The elections take place on a larger scale: They go on for longer, their two displays of stadium-based pageantry last a week rather than a night, they are even more dominated by Americans, and their television coverage is even more dismal.

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  • Peter Eisenman’s Palladio Virtuel

    Palladio Virtuel, by Peter Eisenman, with Matt Roman. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 288 pages.

    PETER EISENMAN’S LATEST BOOK offers a provocative interpretation of Andrea Palladio’s reinvention of classical order that has as much to say about the present predicament of architectural practice as it does about the sixteenth century Veneto in which the celebrated Renaissance architect lived and worked. Eisenman’s analysis of this “virtual” Palladio—which, as the author explained in a recent lecture about the project, reflects the virtu (power of invention) of the humanist architect

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  • Brian Chippendale’s Puke Force

    Puke Force, by Brian Chippendale. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2015. 120 pages.

    NOISE IS IN THE EAR OF THE BEHOLDER—a “catchall phrase for overwhelming stuff with abstract elements or ‘energy,’ elements involving harsher tendencies,” as Brian Chippendale said in a 2012 interview with The Believer. Noise, as a category and a descriptor, is frequently used to characterize Chippendale’s music: the pummeling drum lines and incoherent vocals of the two-man band Lightning Bolt. But it’s in the eye of the beholder, too: The term is often deployed as a shorthand description of the style of his

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  • Aidan Koch’s After Nothing Comes

    After Nothing Comes, by Aidan Koch. Toronto: Koyama Press, 2016. 112 pages.

    AIDAN KOCH’S exquisitely drawn comics in this collected volume of six zines exist in the space between the seen and the obscured, memory and amnesia, speech and silence, comics and “fine art.” Koch’s visual and textual vocabulary is full of palimpsests, fragments, snippets of conversation, and partial landscapes. Her experimental pieces can be called comics insofar as they are contained by a grid on the page (usually) and combine text with images. But their sequential structure is harder to pin down, and the stories do

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