COLUMNS

  • Film

    Ada, and Ardor

    MATI DIOP’S ATLANTICS is a girl’s coming-of-age story wrapped in a magical realism thriller, edged with an unsparing depiction of economic exploitation in a rapidly modernizing Senegal. It’s a lot to handle in a debut feature but thanks to ambition, intelligence, and the desire to relate a story that is seldom told from the inside, Diop—aided by Claire Mathon’s hauntingly shadowed cinematography and composer Fatima Al Qadiri’s sinuous, dissonant score—pulls it off almost without a hitch. The influence of Claire Denis, who gave Diop her first screen role in 35 Shots of Rum (2008), is clear here,

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  • Diary

    Basic Extinct

    I SPENT THE WEEKEND IN A FORMER CREMATORIUM thinking about death. The occasion was a two-day symposium organized by SAVVY Contemporary as part of their exhibition “The Long Term You Cannot Afford. On the Distribution of the Toxic.” The colloquium coincided with the thirtieth anniversary of the Berlin wall’s collapse, and though it had already been a month since David Hasselhoff made his traditional appearance for the official reunification day, a kind of kitsch-comedown still weighed on the festivities. I’ll admit that I hadn’t exactly looked forward to contemplating the apocalypse over a

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  • Books

    Notes on Cant

    Composed over the past decade, Masha Tupitsyn’s Picture Cycle (2019) is a book of essays that considers the shift from analog to digital as an analogy for the psychic turn to binary, reactive, accelerated, and impatient spectatorship. Expanding the style of her 2007 book, Beauty Talk & Monsters, Tupitsyn combines criticism, philosophy, and autobiography to create pathways out of our current melancholic replay and media narcissism. Deftly recording the cultural loss of the cinematic sensibility in culture, she simultaneously confronts lost time, lost desire, and lost love. Tupitsyn’s singular

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  • Diary

    Love, Lagos

    LAST WEEKEND, Ahmadu Bello Way was without chaos, surprising for a road routinely choked with bumper-to-bumper congestion. The facilitators of this calm were none other than the Nigerian army and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, deployed to ensure that everything remained smooth on the thoroughfare for the fourth Art X Lagos, West Africa’s preeminent art fair, now doubled in size from previous editions. For a private art event, the muscle was surprising. Or maybe not. Past iterations of the event have aspired to and often achieved organizational excellence—in the scale of their

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  • Music

    Audience of One

    THE MAJOR LABEL SOLO MUSIC CAREER OF PETER IVERS, a figure defined in the popular imagination less by his personal achievements than by his proximities to stardom, has largely been eclipsed by his participation in two prototypical documents of the West Coast underground-gone-chic. The first is his song “In Heaven,” penned in 1974 for then American Film Institute student David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977) and lip-synched in the film by a disfigured-cheeked Laurel Near; the second, his role as the host of New Wave Theatre, a short-lived cable-access variety show centered around live performances from

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  • Performance

    Kosmic Inflation

    “YOU HAVEN’T GIVEN UP / ON A WORLD HAVE YOU?” asked Bernadette Mayer in the epilogue to a slim volume of poems titled Utopia (1984). “You know traditional utopias are no place / as ours will ever be,” she continued, entreating whomever so wished to “add all you would to / what is already here / together we will put / things on paper that / ‘ve never been there.” Mayer found utopia in social formations, love, and friendship, playfully staging its trials and tribulations in the pages of her book. Utopian thinking, both as narrative conceit and as practice of social imagination, similarly informs

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  • Diary

    Gulf Clap

    “THIS CAMEL, we waited a long time for it to be born,” museum development specialist Karen Exell told members of the press one morning at the stunning new National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), which opened this March. We were touring an installation on traditional Bedouin life, watching footage of the fuzzy creature lurch itself onto its feet for the first time. The same might be said for the long-awaited museum, superbly designed by Jean Nouvel to mimic the angular planes of a gypsum rosette, or desert rose crystal, small specimens of which are available in one of two gift shops. Some of the floors

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  • Diary

    Seoul Cycle

    ARRIVING OFF A FOURTEEN-HOUR FLIGHT from New York, I couldn’t remember the code to my grandmother’s apartment, until it came back like a muscle memory: 1945, the year of national liberation for my grandparents, who were in middle school when the Japanese occupation ended. The persistence of the country’s ancient Confucian moral codes are refracted and jumbled through memories of imperial rule and aspirational neoliberalism in modern Seoul, and compounding deep-rooted hostilities against our former colonizer are the recent trade standoffs; the astonishing sense of kinship among Koreans manifests

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  • Interviews

    Annie-B Parson

    Choreographer and director Annie-B Parson is a force of nature who’s having quite the season. She created the elegant, joyous numbers that propel the great David Byrne and his vibrant cohort of musicians and singers through his rock-show-cum-Broadway-musical, American Utopia, on at the Hudson Theater through February 16. Her company Big Dance Theater, which she cofounded with actor/director Paul Lazar and performer Molly Hickok almost thirty years ago, will present a trio of recent works under the title The Road Awaits Us at NYU’s Skirball Center on November 8 and 9. And last month, Parson

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  • Performance

    Beyond These Kastle Walls

    “LET THE LIGHT FROM YOUR CUNT AND ASSHOLE lead you to the promised land!” shrieked a zombified Valerie Solanas last Thursday night at Icebox Project Space as she shepherded me and a group of undergraduates toward the dulcet tones of singer Gretchen Phillips, who offered a “didactic stroll down the beautiful repertoire of lesbian folk songs,” immediately breaking out in a rendition of Britney Spears’s “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” The undead Solanas was one of several characters who occupied North Philadelphia’s Icebox Project Space for three weeks in October as part of Killjoy’s Kastle, a roving

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  • Slant

    Lightning Rods

    IT’S THE SEASON OF FIRE, but you don’t need me to tell you that. It’s the season of electric, abyssal love, but you know that too. Since the sun’s ingress into Scorpio hit the Promethean lightning of the New Moon opposite Uranus in Taurus, the pit has opened, and the yawning abyss of true democracy beckons like a confusing form of lust. You can feel it pulling on you, like gravity itself. As things collapse we will be able to right some things while others, like what has happened—for now—to the bright career of Katie Hill, will be temporarily, and apparently, very wrong.

    Imagine yourself as Alice.

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  • Passages

    KAMAL BOULLATA

    GRANADA STILL BEARS WITNESS to the golden age of Islamic culture in the palaces of its Alhambra, in the gardens of Generalife, and in the neighborhood of Albaicín, which grew across the Alhambra hills right before the fall. Inscribed in our collective memory as the last Andalusian city to be conquered by the Catholic kings in 1492, it is the perfect place for an Arab or a Muslim to meditate on exile. For centuries, poets, essayists, and moralists recalled Granada as our paradise lost—that is, until the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) sank in. Then Palestine became the fresh wound, the last loss,

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