COLUMNS

  • Interviews

    Elias Sime

    Elias Sime is best known for creating scrupulous, large-scale abstractions out of motherboards, keyboards, and circuitry. He acquires much of his material at open-air markets in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he is based and where he cofounded ZOMA Contemporary Art Center in 2002 and Zoma Museum earlier this year with Meskerem Assegued, who has curated many of his exhibitions. (Assegued acted as interpreter for this interview.) “Tightrope,” Sime’s first major museum survey, was organized by Hamilton College’s Wellin Museum of Art in Clinton, New York, and will run through December 8, 2019. It

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  • Film

    LAUGH IN, LAUGH OUT

    WHEN LILY TOMLIN’S FIRST FILM, Robert Altman’s Nashville, was released in June 1975, the actress and comedian had been a star for at least five years, celebrated for her array of voluble characters. Some of these personae—Ernestine, the floridly passive-aggressive telephone operator; Edith Ann, an uninhibited five-year-old emotional savant—made their debut during her 1969–73 tenure on NBC’s Laugh-In. Others, like Bobbi Jeanine, a bromide-dispensing lounge-circuit organist, premiered on The Lily Tomlin Show (1973), the first of her four eponymous TV specials from the ’70s. These personalities

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  • Passages

    LUTZ BACHER

    UNTIL 2010, Lutz lived with her husband, the astronomer Donald C. Backer, in Berkeley, California. Lutz and Don were in love. Don was recognized internationally for his PAPER (Precision Array to Probe the Epoch of Reionization) project and for advancing the understanding of the history of the universe; Lutz was recognized internationally for advancing the understanding of the readymade. In her cosmology, everything was always already in the depths of the surface of the found object. Lutz died of a massive heart attack, exactly the same way Donald did nine years prior. She believed that there

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  • Passages

    LUTZ BACHER

    The whole useless body was invaded by transparency. Little by little the body turned to light. . . . And the person was no longer anything but a sign among the constellations.1

    THIS EPIGRAPH, taken from Louis Aragon, appears twice in Lutz Bacher’s handwritten notes from the period during which Closed Circuit, 1997–2000, was being edited. As she described it,

    Closed Circuit is the 40 minute digital animation of video stills taken from a year of time lapse video recordings which show a fixed camera perspective of the office of my NY art dealer, Pat Hearn. In the autumn of the year 1997 the animation
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  • Books

    ODE INFINITUM

    Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons, by Hannah Frank. Oakland: University of California Press, 2019. 256 pages.

    IT’S NOT EVERY DAY that a posthumously published Ph.D. thesis nudges the world of cinema studies off its axis. All hail Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons (2019), by Hannah Frank, who completed the book shortly before her tragic death in 2017, at age thirty-two, from an illness believed to have been pneumococcal meningitis.

    Frank is not the first theory-minded cine-historian to suggest that with the advent of CGI the history of motion

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  • Top Ten

    Institute of Queer Ecology

    Nicolas Baird, Lee Pivnik, and Jake Sillen write on behalf of the Institute of Queer Ecology (IQECO), a collaborative, decentralized organism that works to imagine and realize an equitable multispecies future. With programming that ranges from exhibitions, artwork, and publications to direct community actions, IQECO lays the groundwork for a (bio)diverse utopia.

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  • Film

    Hot Seat

    THE SERBIAN WRITER AND DIRECTOR Ognjen Glavonić introduces Vlada (Leon Lučev), the terse, determined protagonist of Teret (The Load), in a rare moment of inattentiveness, dozing off in the back seat of a van meandering across the Balkan countryside. Flames dotting the road and reflecting off the vehicle’s window catch Vlada’s momentary attention but barely rouse him from his slumber. As an intertitle indicates, the setting, now an accustomed daily reality for the characters on-screen, is wartime: the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, 1999, when Serbian state forces and Kosovo-Albanian

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  • Interviews

    Xandra Ibarra

    Kill your darlings: This perennial piece of writerly advice—as dramatic and violent in its associative logic as it is lazy in its deployment by workaday writing instructors and superstar seminar leaders—points to the challenges of revision and, by implication, the supposed hazards of attachment. The idiom implies that you wouldn’t have to kill your darlings (a certain haughtiness creeps in here) if you hadn’t let them wheedle their way into your emotional core in the first place. So: Don’t get attached.

    The work of Xandra Ibarra (AKA La Chica Boom) suggests that our darlings and s/heroes might

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  • Slant

    Letter from Beijing

    A FEW WEEKS AGO, MY WECHAT FEED was flooded by the same message: Pace is closing its Beijing outpost. In an interview with Artnews, the gallery’s founder, Arne Glimcher, observed, “It’s impossible to do business in mainland China right now and it has been for a while.” Glimcher attributed this stagnation of business, on the one hand, to the recent rise in trade tariffs and, on the other, to China’s economic slowdown. As a former associate director of Pace Beijing, I cannot help but reminisce about that summer evening eleven years ago—a week before the start of the Beijing Olympics—at the opening

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  • Passages

    Carlos Cruz-Diez (1923–2019)

    THE TASK SEEMED EXCITING ENOUGH: conduct research on a generation of Latin American artists who had moved to Paris after World War II. Back in 2002, when snail mail was still my primary means of communication, the process was slow and often painful. You’d find a number or address in the phone book, write them a letter, and then give them a blind call. Responses varied. Most artists eventually agreed to my insistent requests for interviews, but after decades of neglect or absence from American institutions, some were skeptical that a Ph.D. student from the United States would be interested in

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  • Film

    Fear of Fear

    TWO ENTWINED VIGNETTES open Roberto Minervini’s What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?, a documentary shot among black communities in New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi. The first shows a child, brandishing a prop machete, strutting down the middle of a city street, howling challenges into the night in one of the peacockish costumes of the Mardi Gras Indians. The second shows two brothers, one seemingly just into his teenage years, the other a few years younger, cautiously walking the corridors of a strobe-lighted haunted house, the smaller whimpering and begging to leave while the older

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  • Interviews

    Terry Allen

    Although Terry Allen attended the Chouinard Art Institute during the heyday of left-coast Conceptualism, his fame arose from the 1975 song cycle Juarez, a landmark album of outlaw country. Allen’s latest record, Just Like Moby Dick, is due for release early next year, and a cassette tape of rarities, Cowboy and the Stranger, has been released on the occasion of his retrospective at L.A. Louver, on view through September 28. The show skirts classification, combining fifty years of drawings, paintings, audio works, and sculptures, all with interlocking themes. In the three-channel MemWars, 2016,

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