COLUMNS

  • Architecture

    HOUSES OF THE HOLY

    Kate Sutton on Jože Plečnik

    WHAT IS IMPRACTICAL can never be beautiful,” architect Otto Wagner, one of the guiding forces of the Vienna Secession, wrote in his 1896 book Modern Architecture. And yet it’s hard to apply the rubric of practicality to the triple bridge at the heart of Ljubljana. The unconventional arrangement—a more traditional central thoroughfare flanked on either side by a scrawnier, slightly askew counterpart, like a blue whale and her two calves—was designed by Wagner’s Slovenian protégé Jože Plečnik (1872–1957), who used what he learned in Vienna to breathe new life into the Slovenian capital’s urban

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  • Passages

    SILKE OTTO-KNAPP (1970–2022)

    Sharon Lockhart on Silke Otto-Knapp

    OUR DEAR FRIEND Silke Otto-Knapp left us on the full moon of October 9. Silke was unprepared to go, and we were unprepared for her to leave. In the studio she had recently built in her garden were preparatory sketches, models, one finished work, one incomplete work, and several primed canvases she had been working on. The title “Versammlung,” roughly meaning a gathering or assembly, was fitting for the group of paintings that made it to Galerie Buchholz in New York for the opening of her show there on October 28. They depicted groups of figures (women) gathered in sets on folding screens. But

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  • Passages

    JEAN-LUC GODARD (1930–2022)

    James Quandt on Jean-Luc Godard

    IN HIS FINAL YEARS, Jean-Luc Godard repeatedly pronounced his latest film his last, then made another. He had bidden farewell to cinema countless times throughout his career—famously proclaiming his Week-end the “fin du cinéma” in 1967—even as he fed rumors of new works, including, most recently, films titled Drôles de guerres (Funny Wars) and Scénario (Script), one of them consisting of still images in the manner of Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962).

    At the end of what was truly his terminal feature, Le livre d’image (The Image Book, 2018), a surging requiem for a world addicted to its own extinction,

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  • Passages

    JEAN-LUC GODARD (1930–2022)

    Yvonne Rainer on Jean-Luc Godard

    OY, I THOUGHT Godard would live forever, at least till the end of my own life. Early on, in my youthful arrogance, I had quibbles with some of his films—too arch at times, too arrogant at others—but I have since had to admit that without his brilliance and daring, many of us in the US avant-garde would have missed out on his challenge. At some point, on one of the director’s visits to New York, his agent had asked me for copies of several of my films for Godard to view. I complied, and though subsequently I never heard from the master himself, I felt deeply honored. I have no doubt that Godard’s

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  • Passages

    JEAN-LUC GODARD (1930–2022)

    Amy Taubin on Jean-Luc Godard

    QU’EST-CE QUE LE CINEMA? Posed in the title of André Bazin’s multivolume collection of essays, this question guided Jean-Luc Godard through more than sixty years of filmmaking, yielding the most beautiful, provocative, tender, irritating, glamourous, exhilarating, and emotionally and intellectually complicated works in the history of motion pictures, supreme among them the wildly personal, decade-in-the-making Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988–98).

    To ask “What is cinema?” is to focus attention—perceptual, kinetic, associative—on the object in question rather than on peripheral considerations such as

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  • Performance

    Live Stream

    Tere O’Connor’s unwavering vision of togetherness apart

    LEAVING THE THEATER after Tere O’Connor’s Rivulets, I distinctly felt that I had just seen a dance by Tere O’Connor. That might sound obvious, but it’s not something you can say about every choreographer—that their work feels unmistakably theirs. With the rupture of the pandemic between O’Connor’s last major project (Long Run, 2017) and this one, the continuity of his aesthetic struck me as both reassuring and surreal, a reminder that while so much has changed, some people, somehow, have managed to keep doing their thing.

    When I think of a Tere O’Connor dance, I think of multiplicity, flourishing,

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  • Film

    Ecce PoMo

    The depthless hyperreality of Noah Baumbach’s White Noise

    EARLY IN NOAH BAUMBACH'S ADAPTATION of Don DeLillo’s White Noise, Murray Siskind (Don Cheadle), a college professor with ambitions to build a career in the academic study of Elvis Presley, asks his colleague Jack Gladney (Adam Driver) to attend his next lecture on the King. In the sixteen years since Jack founded the college’s Hitler Studies department, he has become one of the world’s preeminent scholars of the Führer, and Murray hopes his presence might lend some much-needed prestige to the Elvis project. Jack drops by the lecture, and the two professors have a good-natured verbal duel on the

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  • Interviews

    Martha Rosler

    Martha Rosler on the changing face of feminism

    In the mid-1960s, Martha Rosler began creating photomontages exploring women’s material and psychic subjugation, manipulating popular advertisements from news, fashion, and home magazines to unearth their nefarious ideological operations. Rosler made this body of work, “Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows No Pain,” (1966–72) alongside painting, sculpture, photography, video, and performance, stitching together a variable array of Conceptual art practices attuned to feminist politics. This set of critical tools informs “martha rosler: changing the subject…in the company of others,” a survey of the

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  • Music

    Footsteps in the Snow

    Unraveling a Christmas music mystery

    A FEW YEARS AGO, while flipping through the new arrivals crate at Nice Price Records in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I was visiting family over the holidays, I became transfixed by what I heard playing on the store’s stereo system. It was immediately recognizable as Christmas music: A jubilant, resonant male baritone implored the listener to “let me hang my mistletoe over your head / and let me love you.” But the voice, landing somewhere between the velvet burliness of Teddy Pendergrass and the genteel phrasing of Lou Rawls, like the lustrous production and extravagant, modern R&B arrangement,

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  • Slant

    The Difficulty of Black Women (A Response)

    what I write and how I write is done in order to save my own life.

    —Barbara Christian, “The Race for Theory”

    IN AN ESSAY on the uncompromising brilliance of Toni Morrison’s oeuvre, published just months before the passing of this inimitable writer, Namwali Serpell observes: “There are many ways to be ‘difficult’ in this world: stubborn, demanding, inconvenient, complex, troublesome, baffling, illegible. Black womanhood is where they overlap.” Black women have always been difficult for the world, which relentlessly demands their labors, but disdains the exorbitance their labors bring forth.

    This

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  • Film

    Entre Nous

    In search of Annie Ernaux

    IN THE WINTER OF 1972, around the time Manhattan gallerygoers were immersing themselves in Memory—a sprawling installation comprising over a thousand tiled photographs and several hours of tape-recorded text amassed by the American poet Bernadette Mayer—the French writer of memory Annie Ernaux and her then-husband, Philippe, bought a Bell and Howell Super 8 camera. Mayer, who died this year and who in life seemed ahead of the future, once imagined “a computer or device that could record everything you think or see, even for a single day”—a thought Ernaux would echo across space and time: “Someday,

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  • Music

    Hooked on Phonetics

    A festival at the borderlands of music and language

    “WHAT CAN A BODY DO?” Gilles Deleuze names this as the central question of Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics, which places the body at the center of a philosophy of expression. The inquiry was motivated in part by Spinoza’s commitment to radical contingency—Deleuze goes on to suggest that “We do not even know of what a body is capable”—but it’s a question that feels broadly in tune with the artistic form known as sound poetry, which harnesses human vocality to newly expressive ends. Taken up throughout much of the twentieth century, with precedents dating as far back as humankind has been mouthing syllables,

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