COLUMNS

  • Interviews

    Alan Ruiz

    Premier among the fabled artist-run institutions of the 1970s, the Kitchen stands today on New York’s West Nineteenth Street, its home since 1986, now hemmed in by blue-chip galleries, luxury boutiques, a starchitect office tower, and outrageous pieds-à-terre for the jet-setting elite. On a recent visit, Alan Ruiz’s elegant but spartan installation there—uncharacteristically sited in the building’s ground level theater space, rather than its second-floor gallery—suddenly erupted in sound and reflected light as a composition by Philip Glass, a veteran affiliate of the Kitchen who now serves on

    Read more
  • Diary

    Starry Nights

    SHE WANTED IT to be a lighthouse for the Mediterranean and an archipelago of activities. Maja Hoffmann, the Swiss pharmaceutical heiress and art patron, achieved as much with the Luma Foundation’s Parc des Ateliers in Arles, which after thirteen years of development and construction was unveiled to the public at the end of June. For many of us, this was the first major opening after lockdown, with nearly everybody fully vaccinated and ready to start the season in the south of France.

    I arrived the day before the press opening and headed first to “Laura Owens & Vincent van Gogh,” cocurated by Bice

    Read more
  • Music

    House of Mirrors

    IN THE FIRST OF TWO VIDEOS for her song “Transparent Soul,” Willow thrashes in a featureless white room flooded bluntly with light. The song’s lyrics are full of barbs launched at a disappointing “you,” but Willow is alone in this visual capsule. She sings into and kicks at the fish-eye lens set on the ground, then backs herself into a corner of the claustrophobic box, whose walls have suddenly sprouted security cameras. She aims one at the viewer, threatening us with a reciprocal gaze. 

    The low vantage and ultrawide-angle lens draw a clean line back to the ’90s, when director Hype Williams used

    Read more
  • Music

    Into the Groove

    These songs were the inspiration for my new album, Unbelievable Animals. I wanted to feel happy and energized, so I went back to music that I listened to as a kid, when the radio hits were somewhere between electronic and adult contemporary. Their sounds are groovy, space age, and clean, like the sixties via Y2K. A familiar chaos for our current moment.

    Madonna, “Candy Perfume Girl”

    The Chemical Brothers, “Hey Boy Hey Girl”

    Felix, “Tiger Stripes”

    Magda, “Naomi Campbell”

    New Order, “Bizarre Love Triangle”

    Towa Tei, Kylie Minogue, and Haruomi Hosono, “GBI (German Bold Italic)”

    Janet Jackson, “So Much

    Read more
  • Slant

    Looking After

    THIS APRIL, the University of Pennsylvania admitted to the public that human remains from the charred rubble of the devastating May 13, 1985, police bombing of the MOVE complex in West Philadelphia had been given to Alan Mann, an anthropologist on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania from 1969 to 2001. He was asked to provide forensic analysis of the bones; they are now believed to belong to either or both Tree and Delisha Africa, thirteen and twelve years old, respectively, at the time of their death. Mann took the bones with him when he moved to Princeton University, but they were

    Read more
  • Film

    Sound and Fury

    LEOS CARAX’S ANNETTE IS A MONSTER, a misery, an astoundingly raw movie/musical theater hybrid. It was the first film I saw in a screening room after fourteen months of pandemic isolation so circumstances may have played a part in my being so bouleversé. Also, I was sitting in the first row, the screen was very wide, and Carax doesn’t stint on close-ups. In any case, this is a film about a man who is fucking angry, and his anger went straight to my solar plexus, shaking me around for two hours. It also unleashed a torrent of associations, most of them cued by the director. In the end titles,

    Read more
  • Passages

    Frederic Rzewski (1938–2021)

    “MUSIC PROBABLY CANNOT CHANGE THE WORLD,” wrote composer Frederic Rzewski. “But it is a good idea to act as if it could.” Born to parents of Polish descent in Westfield, Massachusetts, he studied music in a series of elite institutions, from the Phillips Academy to Harvard and Princeton. Attending the Darmstadt Summer School in 1956, Rzewski was exposed to serial composition, as well as the more anarchic work of composer-performers John Cage, David Tudor, and Christian Wolff. Studying with Luigi Dallapicolla in Italy (1960–61) and Elliott Carter in Berlin (1963–65), he established an early

    Read more
  • Diary

    Stolen Moments

    IN ONLY A MATTER OF YEARS, decolonization has leapt from the radical imagination, to the seminar room, to the personalized mugs and bumper stickers of Etsy. An unruly cousin of the placated “postcolonial,” decolonization has temporarily displaced the Anthropocene as the discerning institution’s lost cause of choice, launching a thousand Zoom panels in the process, but rarely does it actually breach the inner sancta of the art institution (i.e., the collections and the boards).

    There are glimmers of hope, though. While France has led the charge on repatriation for a few years now, in April, Germany

    Read more
  • Diary

    Montauk Cowboy

    “I WAS LAYING STONE this morning with the guys, so it’s been a dogfight,” Max Levai said on Saturday afternoon in Montauk at the debut of The Ranch, his next act following some ugly business and back-and-forth litigiousness that saw him and Levai père Pierre part ways with Marlborough Gallery. Anyway, all that seemed to be in the past, or under gag order. The oysters were on ice and the mignonette was glistening. Levai picked up the property last summer and had been renovating until about an hour before guests arrived. Save for some exposed wiring, it was mostly ready. “It was, as you know, a

    Read more
  • Interviews

    Yael Bartana

    Since the early 2000s, Yael Bartana has brought the remnants of the “Jewish question” into sharp relief. “Redemption Now,” a survey at Berlin’s Jewish Museum on through October 10, includes early videos that simultaneously detail and estrange the rituals of Israeli Orthodox Jewish and settler communities. In recent years, her work has grown more formally elaborate—and provocative—in its choreographies and “pre-enactments.” Her trilogy And Europe Will Be Stunned, 2007–11, staged the dramatic genesis of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland, while the Philadelphia-set The Undertaker, 2019,

    Read more
  • Architecture

    Building Blocs

    THE CROWD AT THE SMOLNY INSTITUTE had only just stopped applauding, the minority delegates having reluctantly ceded the floor, when the leader of the revolutionary congress grasped the sides of the podium and spoke the first words of a new era. “We shall now proceed to construct the socialist order,” Vladimir Lenin said: In Russian, the verb he used was stroit (строить), literally “to build”; in time, versions of the phrase would become a rhetorical rallying cry throughout the Soviet Union and its allied states, adorning the overpass of a dam on the Volga River, for example, and the side of an

    Read more
  • Diary

    Greek Revival

    THE MAD FLURRY of art openings in the wake of Greece’s six-month lockdown began with a showdown: an exhibition of sculptures by Blind Adam (Thanos Kyriakidis) in the catacombs of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity was shut down at the last minute by the head priest, Father Synesius Victoratos. “I do not know much about art, but all the works are black and look like pagan talismans,” he reasoned. “We apologize for the inconvenience, but our patrons are conservative.” Funded by the NEON Organization, the show, titled “The End. After Before,” had already wended through a rigorous

    Read more