COLUMNS

  • Diary

    Remember The Time

    TAXI DRIVERS IN KOREA DON’T TALK MUCH, and with the fear of confusing them even further, I’ve learned to just hand them my phone and help as they put on their reading glasses and try to zoom to my destination. While being transported around Gwangju and Seoul earlier this month, I thought of last year’s hugely popular South Korean film A Taxi Driver and Chia-En Jao’s 2016 video Taxi—but, really, the first thing you notice in those cities is that Google Maps does not work. You can search for your destination and see your position, but the App cannot provide you a route. This, upon further research,

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  • Music

    The World On Six Strings

    A SUMMER OF MARY HALVORSON will tell you anything you want to know about the guitar. Her sound is as clean and strong as water, sustaining everything around it. She plays an electric archtop guitar, a Guild Artist Award issued in 1970, which is essentially an acoustic guitar with a pickup installed near the neck, where the strings sway and the body sings. The Artist Award, as Halvorson plays it, is a guide into the line and the note. Her tone serves her ideas, not the reverse. Halvorson doesn’t often distort her signal or blur what she’s presenting. She doesn’t go for clouds and sheets. If her

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  • Diary

    Apocalypstick!

    FIRST CAME WOODSTOCK, the legendary 1969 hippie festival. Then came Wigstock, the world’s foremost drag queen festival, which reigned annually in New York City from 1984 to 2003. A few small-scale revivals have followed, but it wasn’t until September 1 that the event got the spectacular comeback it deserved. The seven-hour extravaganza, dubbed Wigstock H.20, was held on the sprawling rooftop of Pier 17, a five-story complex jutting out on the East River and featuring stunning cityscape views.

    As always, the format was a marathon variety show hosted and curated by Wigstock’s figurehead, Lady Bunny,

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  • Film

    Day Shifts

    RAMELL ROSS’S FEATURE DOCUMENTARY DEBUT Hale County This Morning, This Evening isn’t a character study in the usually understood sense, though it does single out two principal characters, both young Black men living in a low-income area of rural Alabama, for nametag identification. Daniel is an incoming freshman joining the basketball team at tiny HBCU Selma University; Quincy, though seemingly around the same age, has already begun shouldering adult responsibilities, raising a son, Kyrie, with his wife Boosie, who is expecting twins. We get to see a little into the lives of both young men, and

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  • Passages

    The Village Voice (1955–2018)

    THE DESTRUCTION OF THE VILLAGE VOICE—in the spirit of the paper itself, let’s not mince words about the nature of its ending—may not have been a surprise, but it was still a shock to the system. I myself was a latecomer to the publication, first hired as a pinch-hitter art critic in 2014, and then bumped up to art columnist in 2016. At that time, a new owner promised a new era, vowing to make the Voice great again, and we who worked there believed him. Few of us trusted the self-proclaimed savior, but we did somehow, perhaps a bit dumbly, have faith that the phoenix would inevitably rise from

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  • Interviews

    Maria Gaspar

    Over the past year, artist Maria Gaspar has been leading workshops with a group of men at the Cook County Department of Corrections in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. Together, they have produced audio recordings and visual artworks that will be compiled into a digital animation and radio broadcast titled Radioactive: Stories from Beyond the Wall, 2018, which will be projected onto the compound’s north-facing wall for three hours after sundown on September 15 and September 16, 2018. Here, Gaspar discusses her related and ongoing 96 Acres Project, 2012–, and this new work.

    WE WILL USE THE

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  • Slant

    Days of Awe

    ONE TIME WHEN I WAS ON MUSHROOMS Richard Pryor took possession of my body and proceeded to give a lecture to me and my friends on the origins of hot peppers and the true meaning of wheat.

    He explained that how hot peppers got hot was terrible things were done to them, especially with fire—they were horrifically burned, in sick and twisted ways—which led to great strife and suffering on the part of the peppers. He continued that indeed the only way for a piece of matter to transmit heat and energy is for great heat and energy to have been transmitted into it. All of this was communicated not the

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  • Interviews

    Deborah Hay

    Deborah Hay is a pioneering choreographer in the field of experimental dance and one of the founding members of the Judson Dance Theater. Below, Hay describes her work in the 1960s with the Cunningham Dance Company as well as with Judson—a moment that signaled for her both a departure from her formal training and a movement toward what would later become her signature practice. These words are reprinted from artforum.com’s 2012 package of interviews celebrating Judson’s fiftieth anniversary. For more from Hay and other participants in the revolutionary dance movement, visit the Judson feature

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  • Passages

    Cecil Taylor

    IN THE MID-1990S, I moved from Houston, Texas, to New York to study at the Manhattan School of Music. I routinely walked from Harlem to SoHo, walks that would basically take all day, and I’d make unplanned pit stops while learning the city. One of these walks was specific: Someone told me about a Cecil Taylor performance downtown. When I arrived at the intersection of Houston and Mercer, I saw a piano on a small stage in the middle of the street. An audience of about three hundred lined the sidewalk. I found are hydrant to stand on. Cecil began playing, growling and crying his way through the

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  • Books

    Cult Classics

    Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968, by Ryan H. Walsh. New York: Penguin Press, 2018. 368 pages.

    WHEN MY FRIENDS and I started a band in 1980s Boston, we weren’t just influenced by the Velvet Underground—we studied their first three albums like a code to be cracked. (The fourth album, Loaded, served to separate true acolytes from false. Bands covering “Sweet Jane” might as well have been shouting “I don’t get it!” into the mic.)

    What I didn’t know then was that our liturgical attitude toward the Velvets was rooted firmly in a local tradition. As Ryan H. Walsh points out in his excellent new

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  • Books

    ROAD TO NOWHERE

    Downward Spiral: El Helicoide’s Descent from Mall to Prison, edited by Celeste Olalquiaga and Lisa Blackmore. New York: Terreform, 2018. 255 pages.

    By 1957, Caracas was among the most cosmopolitan urban centers in all of the Americas. The discovery of massive oil wealth in 1922 had jump-started Venezuela’s modernization, and, by the 1950s, the economy was booming. Large infrastructure projects went to famous European engineers such as Riccardo Morandi and Eugène Freyssinet. An emerging middle class decorated their homes with modern furniture from Italy and Scandinavia, and automobiles from the

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  • Film

    LADIES OF THE LAKE

    THE STATUS OF female filmmakers in the twenty-first century remains grim. In 2016, two federal agencies began an investigation into discrimination against women directors in Hollywood, prompted by the ACLU’s abysmal findings on sexism in the industry. In June of this year, the Directors Guild of America published a report on the 651 films released theatrically in the US in 2017—from the microbudgeted to the big-studio-backed—which found that women accounted for only 16 percent of directors.

    Against this bleak data, several initiatives from the past five years have reminded us of the

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