COLUMNS

  • Film

    Stage Coach

    Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s dramas of disconnection

    IN THEIR EARLY DAYS, films weren’t as concerned with the realistic elaboration of action as with the various devices writers, directors, cinematographers, and production artists used to convey ideas and emotion through moving images. Theatricality—what Roland Barthes called a “sensuous artifice”—was at the basis of these movies, tasked not with recreating verité on screen but with artfully construing the psyche. Shadows and bursts of light, recurring objects, long takes, static camerawork, expressive acting, and striking (though not necessarily beautiful) faces seared images into a viewer’s

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  • Performance

    Test and Trace

    On the evanescent poetry of Performa 2021

    STRANGE THAT IT'S BEEN years since I last saw live performance. But everyone was exclaiming this now-familiar platitude as they busily embraced on the sidewalk at the intersection of Rivington and Orchard the past October, during the collective reunion which took as its backdrop and pretext Kevin Beasley’s The Sound of Morning. The first of eight commissions realized for this year’s Performa Biennial, the performance began almost unnoticeably. One of Beasley’s collaborators flung a deflated basketball into the air; another began methodically disassembling a black metal barrier that had been

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  • Interviews

    Willie Birch

    Willie Birch on making art a neighborhood affair

    Throughout his multifarious six-decade career, Willie Birch has mined creative traditions ranging from European painting to Yoruba spirituality to conjure visions of the rich culture of New Orleans, as in the series of charcoal-and-acrylic grisaille streetscapes on view through January 23, 2022, at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art as part of “Prospect.5: Yesterday We Said Tomorrow.” Additionally, an exhibition devoted to new paintings and sculptures by the artist is on display at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts until January 7, 2022. In his Seventh Ward studio, Birch and I spoke about the

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  • Slant

    Safe Harbor

    What story will Hong Kong’s M+ museum tell?

    AT A SPECIAL PREVIEW EVENING FOR M+, local artists and patrons—and some internationals who had abided Hong Kong’s rigorous quarantine measures—cautiously entered the Brutalist-style building, at 700,000 square feet one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world.

    The museum has weathered criticism from its inception, dating back to a 1998 proposal for a cultural district complete with sites dedicated to visual and performing arts. In the 2000s, Hong Kong was unfairly stuck with the label of “cultural desert” despite the presence of a robust modern art scene there since the 1960s, and

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  • Performance

    Party Foul

    A post-pandemic play unravels fact and fiction

    NEARLY THREE YEARS AGO, the collaborators Julia Mounsey and Peter Mills Weiss (along with Mo Fry Pasic and Sophie Weisskoff) presented [50/50] Old School Animation at the Under the Radar Festival at the Public Theatre in New York. The show tapped into a sense of paralyzing apprehension—the overwhelming, awful feeling that something very bad was about to happen, and there was little we could do to stop it.

    While You Were Partying marks the furious return of Mounsey and Mills Weiss, this time in collaboration with Brian Fiddyment (all three of whom also perform in the piece). The show, now at Soho

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  • Film

    Dog Eat Dog

    Jane Campion makes a western

    “FOR WHAT KIND OF MAN would I be if I didn’t help my mother, if I didn’t save her?” Jane Campion’s unsparing The Power of the Dog opens with this question, spoken in voice-over by teenaged Peter Gordon (Kodi Smit-McPhee), one in the film’s principal-character quartet. Something in the words and the timbre of Peter’s voice instantly called up a memory of Psycho’s Norman Bates and his affectless “A boy’s best friend is his mother,” an association confirmed by the first sight of Codi—tall and skinny, with gestures that are blatantly femme, or in the lingo of the times (1925), a Nancy boy. But if

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  • Interviews

    Helen Pashgian

    Helen Pashgian on her visionary life in color

    At New York’s Lehmann Maupin, Helen Pashgian showed me around “Spheres and Lenses”—her first exhibition in the city since 1971—while mesmerizing me with her eyes, as glowing and multihued as the prismatic orbs on display. Though Pashgian has been making art since the late ’50s, her moment is now: On November 19, SITE Santa Fe will open the fifty-year retrospective “Helen Pashgian: Presences”; six days later, her work will be featured in Copenhagen Contemporary’s “Light and Space,” a survey of the titular California-based movement Pashgian was instrumental in defining. 

    I GOT INTO ART KIND OF

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  • Diary

    Time After Time

    Artissima’s divine comedies

    ONE MUST BE PRETTY DETERMINED to make it all the way to Castello di Rivoli by public transport. An elderly gentleman who offered to be my guide from the Paradiso metro station strongly advised me against doing the last leg of the journey on foot. “I used to do it regularly when the museum first opened, but I’m no longer twenty-five,” he said. “The final ascent is a killer.”

    Located some twenty kilometers from Turin’s city center, the formidable structure that has housed the contemporary art museum since 1984 sits atop a hill overlooking the Susa valley and the jagged peaks of the Alps. My reason

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  • Books

    Surface Zero

    Another view of Kikuji Kawada’s Hiroshima

    KIKUJI KAWADA, CHIZU (MAQUETTE EDITION). London and New York, New York: MACK and The New York Public Library, 2021. 272 pages.

    EARLY IN JULY 1958, the Japanese photographer Kikuji Kawada, then aged twenty-five and a staffer at the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho, visited Hiroshima for a cover story to run in the month following. He was there to photograph another photographer, Ken Domon, whose book Hiroshima had been published in the spring. Among Domon’s subjects: the scarred bodies of survivors of the atomic-bomb attack of August 6, 1945, and the skeletal dome of the city’s riverside industrial

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  • Music

    Scream Queen

    FT on Diamanda Galás

    DIAMANDA GALÁS’s FIRST ALBUM, The Litanies of Satan (1982), was reissued last year, and now her second LP, Diamanda Galás (1984), is finally available again after being out of print for thirty-seven years. In high school, I traded a pen pal an Einstürzende Neubauten concert bootleg for a hissy nth generation cassette copy of the two albums, one on each side; these vital reissues, beautifully remastered by Heba Kadry, restore the recordings to crystal clarity. Both albums are a testament to how fully formed and relentlessly radical the American singer’s creative approach and vision were from the

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  • Interviews

    Candice Lin

    Candice Lin on collective grief and the consolation of cats

    Candice Lin made Seeping, Rotting, Resting, Weeping, 2021, in the isolation and inertia of the coronavirus pandemic. The installation, which also marks her first solo museum show, strains against that sadness. Centered in and around a collapsible, movable, wearable tent, Lin’s latest work draws on the ways she found connection over the last eighteen months, and creates a setting where others might find the same. But connection is double-edged: The installation references the sometimes gradual, often violent ways cultures meet and intermingle, creating new hybrids and then moving on. The exhibition

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  • Performance

    TAKING STALK

    Piper Marshall on Ericka Beckman

    FOR MORE THAN FORTY YEARS, Ericka Beckman has coaxed viewers to assume the perspective of a child. Her earliest films, in 8 and 16 mm, featured simple performances, bright geometric shapes, and crude computer graphics layered into staccato vignettes. (Critics such as Sally Banes have likened their looping, repetitive structure to children’s songs.) The camera was her editing tool: Beckman double-exposed the film to alter the tempo and animate the tableau. Rehearsing the dynamic between caregiver and ward, teacher and student, these early, small-gauge works complement pieces such as Joan Jonas’s

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