COLUMNS

  • Slant

    Notre Dame of Ruins

    “IT’S A SPACESHIP,” the artist Alejandro Jodorowsky told me long ago. “An astronomical technology designed to measure the power of light and of darkness. An architectural machine made to take off, destined to fly and to take our souls and our dreams beyond the Earth.” He was speaking about Notre Dame. Looking at the cathedral from its rear, Jodorowsky compared the stone buttresses to the arms that attach to a shuttle on its launchpad, meant to open one day to let the ship rise into the sky. I had a hard time understanding his theory then. But suddenly we were there, together with hundreds of

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  • Music

    Master Blaster

    WHEN APHEX TWIN played Brooklyn’s Avant Gardner earlier this month, it was his first New York appearance in at least twenty-two years. From day one, Richard D. James has used live appearances as DJing opportunities, focusing heavily on the ragey, detailed tracks he and his cohort favor. But these tracks are, and have always been, a fairly narrow tranche cut from his larger body of work. Don’t flip out if you miss his recent shows and are a lifelong fan of Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1992)—that show can happen any time, in your house.

    The sound was clear and not too loud. The big ass, windy

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  • Performance

    Cher and Cher Alike

    IT WAS EITHER SCOTT’S IDEA, or Maddie’s idea. Or it was Dave’s idea, but then Dave couldn’t come. He’d already seen it anyway and told me that it was like nothing that should be allowed onstage, but there it was. We gave his ticket to Jennifer, and the four of us made our way to the Neil Simon Theater to see The Cher Show, which—playing right across the way from Mean Girls—made a neat little homo alley out of Fifty-Second Street.

    Sitting way up in the $69 “cheap seats” on an undersold Wednesday night, I marveled at how beat up the stage floor was. This is Broadway, I thought, those words hovering

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  • Film

    Leaven Learn

    “THE JUSTIFICATION FOR [A] PRETENSE TO DISENGAGEMENT,” writes Dave Hickey in Air Guitar, “derives from our Victorian habit of marginalizing the experience of art, of treating it as if it were somehow ‘special’—and, lately, as if it were somehow curable. This is a preposterous assumption to make in a culture that is irrevocably saturated with pictures and music, in which every elevator serves as a combination picture gallery and concert hall . . . All we do by ignoring the live effects of art is suppress the fact that these experiences, in one way or another, inform our every waking hour.”

    To some

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  • Diary

    Just Dessert

    THESE DAYS, Milano Art Week lasts for about a month. By Monday, April 1—when Fondazione Adolfo Pini hosted the kickoff event for this year’s edition—my yesterdays had already been filled with dozens of openings. Indeed, the density of programs by the art fair Miart is pushing many institutions and galleries to advance their events in order to take better advantage of the wealth of excitement (and simply wealth) in the city.

    A very Milanese sense of discretion emerged from this year’s Art Week. A quiet Marco Tronchetti Provera was seen alongside Sheela Gowda at the presentations at Pirelli Hangar

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  • Diary

    Chillida Session

    “WE ARE always returning to the House of the Father.” This verse of Novalis, the über-romantic German poet, haunted me as I approached Chillida-Leku, the sixteenth-century caserío, or farmhouse, on the leafy outskirts of San Sebastián/Donostia, in Spain’s Basque Country. This is where the now-legendary Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida (1924–2002) made his dream of finding a permanent home for his works from 1983 onwards. His ashes rest there as well. Chillida may well be considered as the great father figure of Basque art during the twentieth century: After the Spanish Civil War, the man and

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  • Interviews

    Patty Chang

    Well known for her fearless performances and wildly inventive narratives, the Los Angeles–based artist Patty Chang recently began listing her fears. This led to her soliciting other people’s lists of fears as well, which are related to other lists: One explores the range of a mother’s heightened sense of empathy; another imagines useful mechanisms designed to address, among other things, mental illness, existential distress, fear, and individual agency. These lists set the parameters for a new project that departs from Chang’s solo exhibition “The Wandering Lake, 2009–2017,” which was originally

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  • Film

    All the Rage

    THE CURRENT MINING OF FILM HISTORY for overlooked women directors has unearthed the confrontational oeuvre of the brilliant outsider Nelly Kaplan. An abbreviated retrospective of the Argentinian-born, French-language filmmaker—she’s made fiction features, documentaries, and shorts—is playing at the Quad in New York through April 25. “Wild Things: The Ferocious Films of Nelly Kaplan” kicks off with a weeklong run of her best-known movie, the newly restored A Very Curious Girl (aka La Fiancee du Pirate) from 1969, followed by more limited showings of six later features, among them 1976’s softcore

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  • Books

    Hand in Glove

    LIKE WRITING, fisting is both a replicable skill and a rarefied art form. Performance improves with practice; preparation is necessary; and the deeper you go, the closer you get to the heart of the matter. “The movements of manipulating a pen were not so different from what I did to manipulate a man’s innards. One activity made the other possible,” says the nimble, perspicacious narrator of I’m Open to Anything, the first novel by the artist, filmmaker, and writer William E. Jones. The protagonist comes to this realization near the end of the book, finally learning something useful about himself

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  • Diary

    Funeral Parade of Roses

    BACK IN THE 1980s, drag queens worldwide were stuck in a time warp, impersonating all the familiar divas in dowdy gowns. One major exception to this sorry situation was the counterculture of Manhattan’s East Village, where drag was being wildly reinvented. Outfits were pieced together at Salvation Army, and nobody cared if your wig was askew or your lipsynch, imprecise. What mattered was unleashing your eccentricities and raw talent.

    Among the prominent personalities to emerge during this liberating era was Hattie Hathaway. Tall as a basketball player and with a wry sense of humor, she often

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  • Diary

    Animal Collective

    WHEN I ATTENDED THE AWP WRITERS’ CONFERENCE recently in Portland, my thoughts turned to H. P. Lovecraft. Perhaps it was the clammy, fertile, haunted quality of the Pacific Northwest; perhaps it was the unearthly horror of having no agent and few prospects. Really though, I blame Jeff VanderMeer, whose Annihilation (2014) I had bought for the airplane. While the justly praised novel is typically described as ecological sci-fi, VanderMeer pulls a classic trick at its climax that I associate with Lovecraft: In a scene taking place deep in the bowels of the earth, he confronts us with a creature,

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  • Interviews

    Zalika Azim

    In Zalika Azim’s recent work, layering is less an act of concealment than one of exposure. Her first solo exhibition, “In case you should forget to sweep before sunset,” features images that are physically placed atop one another or are superimposed to unlock manifold associations. Broader themes of dispersion, kinship, and survival are interleaved with intimate family histories. Below, the artist discusses images in the home and the limits and leverages of storytelling through photography. The show is on view at Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York through April 13, 2019.

    I READ SPECULATIVE

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