COLUMNS

  • Interviews

    Lonnie Holley

    Lonnie Holley emerged as part of the American art world of the 1980s as a sculptor of evocative sandstone carvings and elaborate found object assemblage. More recently, Holley has expanded into sound with his albums Just Before Music (2012), Keeping a Record of It (2013), and Mith (2018). Below, on the occasion of a performance at the Dallas Museum of Art, as part of Soluna 2019, Holley explains the process of research and meditation that informs all of his creative work. Holley’s art is currently on view as part of “America Will Be at the DMA through September 15, 2019, and he continues to

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  • Diary

    Mixed Emotions

    FOR TEENAGERS, there is no such thing as too much angst, too much pain, too much love. No emotion is ever enough. This is what made the Norwegian web series Skam (2015–17) such a sensation: It illustrated perfectly the simultaneous intensity and mundanity of adolescence. Most of the time you’re torrenting Romeo + Juliet in bed and shedding a single tear. At some point life stops being (as) boring, emotions become burdens, and we cordon them off somewhere. I met Isak from Skam, in real life known as Tarjei Sandvik Moe, at Kunstnernes Hus, and momentarily returned to a pubescent state of elation.

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  • Film

    Pretty Pictures

    THE BROOKLYN ACADEMY OF MUSIC’S film programming department remains one of the few institutions that has responded empathetically and responsibly in light of the increasing conversation about representation in the medium. Their year-round programs have consistently highlighted underseen female directors, should-be-canon entries from black filmmakers, foreign delights, and more. Their annual BAMcinemaFest, now in its eleventh year, is no different in range and spirit, showcasing festival favorites (fresh from Sundance and elsewhere) and ripe-for-discovery underdogs to a New York audience. All

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  • Film

    Hope Against Hope

    LINCOLN CENTER’S ANNUAL “OPEN ROADS” SERIES, now in its nineteenth edition, is a precious opportunity for New Yorkers to see new Italian cinema. Over the years, my experience has been that, even when the quality varies, this national cinema rarely avoids pertinent subject matter, and in the case of narrative films, consistently provides stellar performances. One anxiety that emerges loud and clear this year is the lack of hope and dismal future faced by working-class Italian youth. Given the conviction and heart of these films, it’s hard to conclude that the concern is the obsession of just one

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  • Interviews

    Sheila Hicks

    For over seven decades, Sheila Hicks has devised a diversity of forms in fiber from the perspective of painting and photography, including weavings, sculptures, architectural commissions, and monumental installations. Her abstractions triumph and transcend hierarchies of medium, gender, and geography. Pioneering contemporary art’s global turn, Hicks embraced opportunities in novel exhibition, manufacturing, and design contexts in Latin America, Africa, India, Japan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, well before such engagement became the norm. Below, she reflects on her upbringing in the American Midwest

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  • Passages

    BARBARA HAMMER

    OF THE MORE THAN EIGHTY moving-image works that Barbara Hammer created, her 1974 film Dyketactics remains her most iconic. A four-minute paean to lesbian sexuality, Dyketactics publicly announced Hammer’s blossoming sexual identity after the end of her heterosexual marriage and testified to the visionary power of a woman with a movie camera. The film is a revolutionary call for recognition, a how-to guide to sensuality, and a reflection of the utopian spirit that animated a generation of women in search of sexual pleasure and empowerment beyond heterosexuality. It is also one of the most joyful

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  • Passages

    BARBARA HAMMER

    Sisteresister

    . . . the audacity of fabricating a pre- or ahistoric foundation for one’s contemporary thoughts and actions; the righteousness of claiming truths at the level of the body; the thrill of accessing magical realms hitherto cloaked by rationality and the oppressive world of appearances; and the presumptuousness of going off to live entirely as one chooses, beyond the range and influence of heteropatriarchal media, culture, and ideology. 

    —Greg Youmans

    BARBARA HAMMER’S DEATH was a finale, an ode to a courageous, inspiring, influential, and illustrious life of wonder, achievement, and

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  • Passages

    AGNÈS VARDA

    IN THE SPRING OF 2017, I accompanied two friends on a visit to Agnès Varda’s home on the rue Daguerre, in Paris, where she lived from the early 1950s until her death on March 29 at age ninety. In 1954, Varda mounted her first photography exhibition in the narrow, light-filled courtyard that bisects this house on a street named for the pioneering nineteenth-century French photographer. You may have seen the space in one of her documentaries: Varda seated on a plant-lined stone stairway with a cat nearby, talking to the camera, drawing us into her cinematic world. The house was filled with images

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  • Performance

    VEILED MEANING

    SINGULAR BEINGS LIKE THE DANCER, artist, and poet Paul Swan (1883–1972) are best approached with curiosity rather than a firm thesis. Those whose work has fallen out of favor—or whose tastes were out of step with their times—are often burdened with narratives of failure, of irrelevance, which anyone who understands the unpredictable values of art should dismiss outright. As Jack Smith, one of the great reader-recuperators of culture, wrote in his bravura encomium “The Perfect Filmic Appositeness of Maria Montez” (1962–63): “A highly charged idiosyncratic person (in films) is a rare phenomenon

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  • Performance

    CROWD CONTROL

    IN 1792, Robert Barker, the Irish painter and inventor, exhibited a 360-degree view of London as seen from the roof of Albion Mills, a flour mill roughly five hundred feet west of where Tate Modern now stands. His “panorama” and others like it were technological marvels, popular attractions that rendered sweeping landscapes—both foreign and domestic, historical and contemporary—from the standpoint of an all-seeing visitor, the sublimity of the ungraspable world translated for ready capture by the centered individual. London from the Roof of the Albion Mills triumphed in Leicester Square before

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  • Film

    WET DREAM

    SEXY. David Hockney luxuriates in the word, adding extra sibilance to the adjective, one he applies to a friend, the American model Joe MacDonald, who sits with him in a hotel room in Geneva in June 1973. Their flirty conversation occurs early on in Jack Hazan’s A Bigger Splash (1974), a partly scripted, partly improvised quasi documentary about the English painter, then at the height of his fame and recently broken up with Peter Schlesinger, the subject of some of Hockney’s best-known works. Fact embellished by fiction (and vice versa), A Bigger Splash, protean in structure, explores fluid

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  • Film

    Cannes of the Dead

    TYPICALLY A PRESSURE COOKER of divided interests and divergent opinions, the Cannes Film Festival concluded its seventy-second edition last Saturday on a rare note of unanimity: a Palme d’Or for the film that happened also to be the critical and popular favorite. The South Korean director Bong Joon-ho took the festival’s top prize for his virtuosic social satire Gisaengchung (Parasite), greeted across the board as a return to form and perhaps even a career peak after a pair of conceptually elaborate if somewhat unwieldy international coproductions, Snowpiercer (2014) and Okja (2017). Parasite

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