COLUMNS

  • Music

    Child of Light

    The musical otherworlds of Claude Vivier

    LITTLE ELSE COMPARES to the music of Québécois composer Claude Vivier. His work offers, in the words of composer-conductor Matthias Pintscher, “great brilliance, great severity, great archaism, great emotions”: glimpses of other worlds firmly rooted in our own. Though he was admired by leading composers such as György Ligeti, Gérard Grisey, and Louis Andriessen, Vivier, who was murdered in 1983 at the age of thirty-four, remains regrettably obscure. A three-day Vivier festival at London’s Southbank Centre earlier this month offered a welcome opportunity to redress the balance.

    For the opening

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  • Interviews

    Annette Messager

    Messages from a burning world

    Throughout a formidable career that spans six decades, Annette Messager has reconceived everything things—down puffers, bras, stuffed animals—into ambivalent emblems of collective dysfunction and desire. In her atelier in Malakoff, just south of the Paris perimeter, she toils between the playful and the macabre, between parody and critique, mining personal obsessions and slyly veering into social transgression. Below, the artist—whose latest show, “Comme si” (As If), runs from May 11 to August 21 at the Lille Métropole Musée d'Art Moderne (LaM) in France—discusses coping with angst, the pitfalls

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  • Film

    Descent Proposal

    Anthony Hawley on Michelangelo Frammartino’s Il Buco

    LISTEN CAREFULLY inside the cavernous dark of the theater and you’ll hear the gossamer symphony accompanying the opening sequence of Michelangelo Frammartino’s newest feature, Il Buco: interstitial beads of water echoing softly as they fall into pools; the hushed stridulation of crickets; a crescendo of insects buzzing about as night yields to nautical dawn; and, eventually, a chorus of cowbells, followed by something like a distant cry. Only as the sun rises does it become apparent where the camera rests: nestled inside a hole in the ground, peering up at the sky, rocks, and weeds, and then at

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  • Performance

    Waiting for Argot

    Colin Self puts a secret language on stage

    TIP THE IVY,  the latest stage work by Colin Self, is an opera about language. First performed last year at Halle für Kunst Steiermark in Graz, Austria, it recently had a three-night run at Performance Space New York, which cocommissioned the piece. Like many of Self’s productions, Tip the Ivy is heavily collaborative, this time featuring Bully Fae Collins, Cornelius, Dia Dear, and Geo Wyeth as well as a choir, or “XOIR.”

    More specifically, Ivy is an opera about the sociolect of queers, sex workers, and entertainers in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century England, known as Polari (also spelled

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  • Interviews

    Luce Irigaray

    Shifting the world through breath

    Luce Irigaray is one of the most renowned and polemical philosophers of our time. The author of more than thirty books, she is well known for her critical engagements with canonical figures of psychoanalytic and philosophical traditions through her landmark feminist texts such as Speculum of the Other Woman (1974), which prompted her expulsion from the Lacanian École Freudienne de Paris (EFP) because of its searing depiction of Platonic and Freudian representations of women; This Sex Which Is Not One (1977); Elemental Passions (1982); Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche (1991); and The Forgetting

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  • Diary

    Normal People

    Kristian Vistrup Madsen at Berlin Gallery Weekend

    PEACHES SERENADED HEATHCLIFF from atop a table at the Julia Stoschek Collection last Wednesday after Caique Tizzi’s “singing dinner,” where, in the name of art, I ate a raw leek and was triggered by a live rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Next door at Sweetwater, Luzie Meyer read her Lacanian poetry to hundreds of Städelschule alumni, and across town at CFA, Francesca Facciola distilled all the sex and kitsch of Catholicism into a deranged painting of Jesus certain to appear in my nightmares. As for celebrities, in lieu of Kanye or Keanu, over the weekend someone somewhere spotted Wolfgang

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  • Interviews

    Mounira Al Solh

    Embroidering a monument to women’s stories and sorrow

    Growing up in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war, Mounira Al Solh witnessed firsthand the ways in which war and conflict upend all aspects of life and wrench a region’s sense of history from its own hands. For “A day is as long as a year,” on view from April 9 to October 2 at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England, the Beirut and Netherlands–based artist invited over thirty women to plumb their own personal heritages in order to collaborate on a prismatic display of their own traditions and contemporary realities. History may be written by the victors, but its most powerful

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  • Film

    PLEASURES OF THE TEXT

    Erika Balsom on Ruth Beckermann’s MUTZENBACHER

    AT THE START of Ruth Beckermann’s MUTZENBACHER (2022), text appears over an image of the repurposed industrial space that will serve as the film’s sole setting. It announces a casting call: The director seeks men in Vienna between the ages of sixteen and ninety-nine to participate in a film about Josefine Mutzenbacher, no previous acting experience required.

    But who is Josefine Mutzenbacher? In the anglophone world, the name is not widely known. For many German speakers, however, it is loaded with cultural significance. Josefine Mutzenbacher, or The Story of a Viennese Whore, as Told by Herself

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  • Slant

    A LANDSCAPE WE ALL HELP TO MAKE

    Barry Schwabsky on Rackstraw Downes

    WHATEVER YOU THINK realism means, Rackstraw Downes is certainly some kind of realist—and, moreover, one whose elective subject matter is landscape. That in itself suggests a quixotic temperament in an artist born in 1939 whose immediate contemporaries include any number of abstract, Conceptual, and performance artists but few realists—at least of his stature.

    And even among painters pursuing realism in his generation, Downes looks like an outsider. Despite the fact that he edited a valuable collection of Fairfield Porter’s writings, there’s nothing in his work of the intimism and subjectivity of

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  • Slant

    LUST FOR LIFE

    Hannah Stamler on Suzanne Valadon

    A SELF-PORTRAIT from 1911 shows Suzanne Valadon at work, presumably creating the image before us. Holding a paint-streaked palette, she turns slightly to the right with lips pursed and eyes narrowed, likely scrutinizing her reflection in a mirror beyond the frame. When Valadon made the portrait, at age forty-six, she would have been quite accustomed to holding a pose. Raised by a single mother in Montmartre, heady epicenter of the Parisian avant-garde, she began working as an artist’s model at the age of fifteen, sitting for the likes of Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec, her friend and lover, who

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  • Film

    Bread and Roses

    Revisiting The Wobblies amid a labor resurgence

    ARE WE TIRED of leftist infighting yet? The revolutionary fervor of two years ago is gradually dissipating into directionless, incessant debate over the correct path forward. Ours is not the first generation of radicals to be divided or silenced by liberal figureheads. A silver lining emerges, however, in the resurgent labor movement taking on Amazon and Starbucks, among other corporate and institutional giants. In recent years, a reawakening of worker militancy has rippled across the art world, resulting in widespread organizing efforts in the museum field.

    New York’s Museum of Modern Art—whose

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