COLUMNS

  • Diary

    Meet Me Halfway

    “YOU FEEL GEOLOGIC TIME IN SHARJAH,” Eungie Joo said at the March Meeting 2021, the annual three-day convening of globe-trotting art professionals hosted by the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) in the United Arab Emirates. This year’s program, “Unravelling the Present,” was staged as a ten-day series of virtual roundtable discussions and solo presentations as part of a thirtieth-anniversary reflection on the Sharjah Biennial. In her presentation, Joo, who curated the biennial’s twelfth edition in 2015, spoke of seeing seashells in the desert during an on-site research trip in Sharjah and realizing

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  • Diary

    Cool Intentions

    LAST SEPTEMBER, when Artnet published a sweeping account of the dramatic ascent of Amoako Boafo, whose fingerpainted portraits of Black people had apparently cast a spell over the market, it read like the script of a Hollywood blockbuster. Replete with eye-popping prices, secret deals, greedy collectors and curators, and a ballsy move by Boafo himself to seize control of his own work, the profile laid bare the inner workings of a rapacious art market. It also sharply framed the increasing international hunger for contemporary African portraiture and the surge of pressure it creates for the

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  • Interviews

    Lucy Raven

    Lucy Raven has dedicated much of her work to the revisualization of the American West, both in its literal, topographic emplacement and within a historical imaginary. Between film, light sculptures, installation, and stereoscopic animation, her examinations of terrestrial surveying and digital visualities, as well as the spectacular constructions and everyday mundanities of the built landscape, offer a fascinating peek into a postindustrial frontier and its extractive economies. Raven’s newest exhibition continues her work with light installation and includes the forty-five-minute film Ready

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  • Slant

    On the Tuileries Slave Memorial Jury “Impasse”

    I WAS ONE OF FIVE ARTISTS shortlisted for the competition to create the Memorial in the Tuileries to the Victims of Slavery. I write to correct some of the factual misrepresentations of this process that have recently appeared in the international press.1 The French Culture Ministry’s Call for Applications for that commission required the following materials from the artist applicants: (1) an artistic document of no more than 15 pages, (2) a portfolio presentation of five recently realized works, (3) a letter of motivation, and (4) a curriculum vitae of no more than two pages.2 In this first

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  • Music

    Taylor Made

    SPRING IS IN THE AIR, and with it the buzz of a new work by that most accomplished execrator of man-children, a musical artist who penetrates deep into the American psyche with ballads of love and loss: That’s right, Taylor Swift is dropping an album. Yes, there is that other icon with a record out, nostalgiste de la boue Lana del Rey, the voice that launched a thousand think pieces, but now is the time to give the author of “Dear John” the intellectual consideration she so richly deserves. It’s a love story—just say yes.

    Swift’s newest venture is to revisit an old one: a rerecording of her

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  • Slant

    Gray Eminence

    ON THE FACE OF IT, the reinstallation of selected works of art from the Frick Collection in the Breuer building at 875 Madison Avenue provides a refreshing change. After as much as a century in the same setting, masterpieces once embedded in a Gilded Age mansion are now out on their own. Hung on the plain walls of a concrete Brutalist icon, spaced apart from each other, paintings, sculptures, porcelains, two rugs, and some great eighteenth-century French furniture have temporarily jettisoned the ornate wood paneling, lavish curtain window treatments, and decorous fountain courtyard of what was

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  • Slant

    Royalty Check

    THE CONFOUNDING PRICES realized by cyptoart sales recently have overshadowed another extraordinary aspect of these transactions. Many NFT “smart contracts” include an embedded resale royalty—often 10 percent—that flows back to the artist every time the work is resold. Better yet for the creators, when used, this NFT technology distributes those royalties automatically upon any change of ownership registered on the blockchain (without the need for lawyers and letters). Beeple himself, maker of this year’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days, has benefited from this income stream. When an earlier work,

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  • Music

    Pluck, House, and Float

    For this playlist, I decided to focus on the three fundamentals of music: Pluck, House, and Float.

    Pluck: A spiky attack followed by a slow decay. Nearly all that we understand as the character of any given sound happens in its first milliseconds. And the noises that stay with us keep reverberating long after they're no longer heard. Chiweshe's mbira, guitars of The Ex and A. Kostis, Colleen's viola da gamba, Sudan Archives' violin.

    House: Sweat stains the difference between repeatability and desire. Clubs resist abstraction: Every night is the only night. Octo Octa's blush, Ngly's mumble, Sofia

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  • Passages

    Barbara Rose (1936–2021)

    I MET BARBARA ROSE in early 1969 in Minneapolis, where I was living for a year with my husband, the French painter Georges Noël. Barbara came out to give a lecture. She was already a well-known New York art critic with a definite aura, so expectations were high. She stepped up to the podium and, as a preface to her presentation, unfolded a chain of cutout paper dolls. She began: “Well, I’m going to have to ad-lib my talk this afternoon because when I got up this morning to take the plane, this is what my daughter Rachel had done to my lecture.” (Much later, Rachel told me that this was probably

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  • Passages

    SOPHIE (1986–2021)

    SOPHIE BELONGED TO THE FUTURE. At the last SOPHIE concert I attended, the central item on the merch table was a black T-shirt with white lettering. LIVE IN PERSON! SOPHIE LA000010302017, it announced. Four zeroes ahead of the date, four powers of ten for us to expand into, millennia upon millennia still unwritten. That was the music’s promise—that we would all make it out, that we would spill not just past this present moment, but into the untold expanses of time yet to come. Now those of us who loved what SOPHIE did must chart a future without SOPHIE, reconstructing our worlds around an abyssal

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  • Books

    Automatic Writing

    Deep Scroll, edited by Anne de Vries. Eindhoven, the Netherlands: Onomatopee, 2020. 380 pages.

    DEEP SCROLL is a book for this precise mediated moment. It’s a chaotic journey in which the reader walks a tightrope between the real and the simulated, in which the old is repackaged as the new and we are driven to furious speculation over a multitude of speakers’ intents and ideologies. Artist Anne de Vries offers a mad pastiche of dense theory layered atop digital collages of his installation work from the past two decades. He sourced classic writings by Hannah Arendt, Alain Badiou, Manuel DeLanda,

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  • Books

    Occult Classic

    The Tarot of Leonora Carrington, by Susan Aberth and Tere Arcq with an introduction by Gabriel Weisz Carrington. Lopen, UK: Fulgur Press, 2020. 120 pages.

    THE VOICE OF ART EDUCATOR Jackie Armstrong emanates from my MacBook, guiding me through the vaulted chamber of Leonora Carrington’s painting And Then We Saw the Daughter of the Minotaur, 1953, acquired by New York’s Museum of Modern Art in advance of their 2019 expansion. The track is part of the museum’s Covid-era playlist “Artful Practices for Well-Being,” a series of audio tours that forgo didactic synopsis in favor of visualization and

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