COLUMNS

  • Passages

    Carlos Cruz-Diez (1923–2019)

    THE TASK SEEMED EXCITING ENOUGH: conduct research on a generation of Latin American artists who had moved to Paris after World War II. Back in 2002, when snail mail was still my primary means of communication, the process was slow and often painful. You’d find a number or address in the phone book, write them a letter, and then give them a blind call. Responses varied. Most artists eventually agreed to my insistent requests for interviews, but after decades of neglect or absence from American institutions, some were skeptical that a Ph.D. student from the United States would be interested in

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  • Film

    Fear of Fear

    TWO ENTWINED VIGNETTES open Roberto Minervini’s What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?, a documentary shot among Black communities in New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi. The first shows a child, brandishing a prop machete, strutting down the middle of a city street, howling challenges into the night in one of the peacockish costumes of the Mardi Gras Indians. The second shows two brothers, one seemingly just into his teenage years, the other a few years younger, cautiously walking the corridors of a strobe-lit haunted house, the smaller whimpering and begging to leave while the older

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  • Interviews

    Terry Allen

    Although Terry Allen attended the Chouinard Art Institute during the heyday of left-coast Conceptualism, his fame arose from the 1975 song cycle Juarez, a landmark album of outlaw country. Allen’s latest record, Just Like Moby Dick, is due for release early next year, and a cassette tape of rarities, Cowboy and the Stranger, has been released on the occasion of his retrospective at L.A. Louver, on view through September 28. The show skirts classification, combining fifty years of drawings, paintings, audio works, and sculptures, all with interlocking themes. In the three-channel MemWars, 2016,

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  • Film

    Parental Controls

    IT WAS NOT UNTIL the documentary filmmaker Nanfu Wang had been living in the United States for several years and was pregnant with her first child that she began to think about China’s one-child policy. “The personal is political” was an axiom of the US women’s liberation movement, invoked most powerfully in relation to the rights of women to control their own bodies, particularly their reproductive rights. Just six years after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision made abortion a fundamental right in the United States—one never as endangered as it is today—China instituted a policy prohibiting a woman

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  • Film

    The Sound of Violence

    IN THE 1820s, British colonizers nearly exterminated Tasmania’s Aboriginal population during the Black War, a genocidal conflict still unacknowledged by many Australians. That any film set during this period would feature scenes of carnage and horror should surprise no one. Yet The Nightingale, Jennifer Kent’s nuanced followup to The Babadook (2014), has ignited controversy regarding the violence she asks audiences to endure. (One aggrieved journalist lashed out in a misogynist attack, calling the director a “whore” at last year’s Venice Film Festival.) But even more striking is how little the

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  • Architecture

    Living With Water

    CRISP, LOW-LYING, AND QUIETLY BEAUTIFUL, the Art Deco boulevards of Miami Beach constitute what the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) calls an “Open Air Museum of 20th Century Architecture,” driving tourism and the city’s economy. The modernist curves and stacked ziggurats—designed to catch the breeze in each hotel room—suit a landscape built at the mercy of water. The white-and-pink, peach-and-aqua exteriors balance out the deep blue of the Florida sky. Walking down Collins Avenue with its oceanfront hotels, or the side streets with their three-story Moderne apartment buildings, the

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  • Interviews

    Juliana Cerqueira Leite

    To make her sculptures, Juliana Cerqueira Leite often crawls inside large mounds of clay, casting the imprints of her body. By prioritizing touch and spatial orientation, her research has led her across different disciplines to explore gestures both physical and psychic. In her latest show, “Orogenesis,” Leite links space travel to the archaeological remains of Pompeii though anatomical postures of vulnerability in the face of vast environmental extremes. Installed in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples through September 23, the exhibition speaks to the endless possibilities for embodiment

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  • Passages

    Katharine Mulherin (1964–2019)

    KM WAS ALL OF THE THINGS. She was perceptive and talented. Committed and enthusiastic. Essential and legendary. And funny. She had a very unique way of bringing people toward art that they wouldn’t think of as refined or sellable. Through mere presentation, she posed the question: “Don’t you want to have fun?” For Canadians, that’s a hard question to answer, because of course they do, but is it allowed? By having multiple spaces so close together, she could open two entirely different shows—on one side a magnificent starkness, and on the other a full-tilt party of garbage art. And it worked.

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  • Books

    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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  • Passages

    David Koloane (1938–2019)

    I LOVED DAVID KOLOANE. He was kind and decent and an excellent, multifaceted artist.

    On a number of occasions David plainly said to me that contemporary artists should actively participate in the broader world of art by writing, curating, and advocating for art. This he did perhaps most concretely by cofounding the Bag Factory Artist Studios in 1991, in Johannesburg. The Bag Factory was the first space in South Africa where black and white artists could work together on equal footing. It was also there that I first met David after I joined the organization as a studio artist roundabout mid-2006.

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  • Interviews

    Matthew Angelo Harrison

    Matthew Angelo Harrison creates technically precise sculptures rich with art-historical allusion, mixing and interrogating touchstones as diverse as 1970s American Minimalism, Benin bronzes, and Adolf Loos. His work is currently on view as part of the Whitney Biennial at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art through September 22 and “Colored People Time: Mundane Futures” at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art through August 11. Below, Harrison discusses his sculpture Dark Povera: Manufactured Primitives, 2019, which is included in the Cranbrook Art Museum’s “Landlord Colors: On Art,

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  • Film

    Swarm and Tender

    HATIDZE MURATOVA, THE HERO of Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska’s Honeyland, is believed to be the last female wild honey gatherer in Europe. A tall, slim, agile woman in her early fifties with a hawklike nose, a snaggletooth, weathered skin, and extremely kind eyes, she is not merely charismatic, but a radiant being. When the filmmakers first encountered Hatidze, she and Nazife, her frail eighty-five-year-old mother, were the sole inhabitants of a centuries-old stone village in an arid region of Macedonia. She told them that she had long dreamed of someone making a movie about her method

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