COLUMNS

  • Slant

    Anniversary

    MONDAY, JUNE 15, is the anniversary of the death of writer Kevin Killian, who was my husband for thirty-three years. The thought of spending it alone during San Francisco’s shelter-in-place both terrifies and numbs me. I have discovered that I have an enormous capacity for numbness, which continues to surprise me. Before Kevin’s death, I couldn’t bear to think about the horrors of widowhood. Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking seemed like the most dangerous book in the world; I wouldn’t touch it. After he died, I read it compulsively.

    For all other anniversaries this past year, I went to

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  • Slant

    Teach-Out

    THIS PAST APRIL, during a fractious Zoom meeting between the faculty and trustees of the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), the phrase “the house is on fire” was uttered multiple times. SFAI has faced existential threats more than once in its 149-year history: In the fires that ravaged San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake, the school literally burned to the ground. Although no act of God, the slow-moving crisis that has left the college too precarious to weather the current pandemic is no less intractable. At an institution where tuition and student fees reportedly account for 85 percent

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  • Interviews

    Alicja Kwade

    Guided by scientific principles, Alicja Kwade breaks complex structures into comprehensible segments while shrouding her art in a mystery both cosmic and human. Last spring, she installed two large-scale sculptures modeling the solar system on top of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for its Roof Garden Commission series. Comprised of heavy, delicately suspended stones from around the world, the abstract orrery encouraged viewers to reflect on their own position within a massive yet fragile universe. Working under partial lockdown in Berlin, the artist discusses the nature of time under

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  • Passages

    Susan Rothenberg (1945–2020)

    PERHAPS BECAUSE THE MOMENTUM OF THE ART WORLD thrusts us all into constantly changing relationships, long friendships between artists and curators are, in my experience, surprisingly rare. But when they do develop, they can be very special. I was fortunate to have had such a friendship with Susan Rothenberg.

    I first met Susan in 1978, when I was a young curator at the University Art Museum, Berkeley (now the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive), where I did her first museum exhibition the same year. It was an important moment for both of us, but more so for me. I was in need of knowledge

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  • Passages

    Susan Rothenberg (1945–2020)

    SUSAN ROTHENBERG was a visionary artist. We met around 1969 in New York and became friends. I asked her to work with me. Working together brings closeness.

    Susan made a beautiful contribution to one of my catalogues in 1994. Reading it now reminds me of the wonderful times we shared. “I wandered into one of the richest periods of the avant-garde music/sculpture/dance/performance/theater, separate and combined, that New York has ever known,” she wrote. “#10 Chatham Square. We ate at Tina Girouard’s and Dickie Landry’s kitchen on the second floor, or Mary Heilmann’s on six. We were Sonnier, Smithson,

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  • Diary

    Signs Are Everywhere

    BEFORE ANYONE GOT STARVED ENOUGH to sneak out for a fuck or a socially distanced porch hang, we took drives. On a recent Saturday, I visited the Westside edition of “Drive-By-Art,” an outdoor exhibition billed as “public art in this moment of social distancing” and organized by Warren Neidich, Renee Petropoulos, Michael Slenske, and Anuradha Vikram. On the way, I passed through Silver Lake and Echo Park, where a number of Artemisa Clark’s replicas of posters from New York in 1987—when Carl Andre was on trial for second-degree murder of his wife, Ana Mendieta—remained stapled to telephone poles

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  • Slant

    The Wheels of Joey

    AS I WAS BIKING TO MY FRIEND REL’S to retrieve a needle and some fresh material to read during quarantine, I saw an ominous calling card casually hanging from a door on Onderdonk Street. It read ROMAN EMPIRE LOGISTICS LLC, conjuring in my mind the image of flimsy gladiator breastplates being fed to lions. I presumed it was a realtor’s moniker, but later discovered it was a “fleet logistics company” contracted by Amazon to deliver packages during the pandemic. I even learned that this small enterprise was ahead of the socially responsible curve, requiring employees to wear face masks as early as

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  • Slant

    An Interview with Jabari Brisport

    This interview was conducted before the insurgency in New York City that began on May 28; in a brief update on June 4, Jabari added: “This is the city of Amadou Diallo, the city of Sean Bell, the city of Eric Garner. We’ve been pushing to defund the NYPD by $1 billion over four years, out of their total budget of $6 billion, but the situation is now moving so fast that it feels like maybe we should go further than that. I saw the proposal to dismantle the police department in Minneapolis; why not in New York?”



    ABOUT A THOUSAND YEARS AGO in experiential time, Bernie Sanders ended his bid for

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  • Film

    Bonded Debt

    “I WANT HOT PINK GLITTER IN MY ASHES,” a redheaded, middle-aged woman quips, triggering nervous, scandalized laughter in a scene that evokes cinema verité as much as a home movie. Around a Thanksgiving table in Mississippi, gallows humor is a family affair, animated by tongue-in-cheek speculations about dismemberment, double indemnity, and itemized funeral budgets. At this point in Shared Resources, a feature-length work in progress by Jordan Lord, we know that Albert Lord (the filmmaker’s father, a graying man who observes this conversation with jaded reserve) is a former debt collector, or “

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  • Film

    Ready, Willem and Abel

    THERE IS A CERTAIN SPECIES of fecund artist from whom work seems to flow in abundance, like a natural byproduct of their existence. In literature there are the Simenons and Honoré de Balzacs; in pop music, the Chief Keefs and Mark E. Smiths. Various popular cinemas through the years have supported such prolificity—think ’30s Hollywood or ’80s Hong Kong—though as the mechanisms of production became more onerous in America, it became the provenance of independents and experimental filmmakers, from Stan Brakhage to Kevin Jerome Everson. In the latter-day commercial cinema, a business of house-of-cards

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  • Interviews

    Dread Scott

    For over three decades, Dread Scott has made art that confronts state-sanctioned brutality and racial injustice while imagining revolution. His 2015 flag, A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday—a declaration of memorial immensity and stark prolepsis—remains an emblem of the United States’ foundational and ongoing violence against Black people: violence now being challenged as millions take to the streets nationwide in a staggering response to George Floyd’s killing. Below, Scott discusses his past and recent work, art institutions’ response to the current uprisings, and the radical possibility

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  • Slant

    Daily Drawings: Week Seven

    As people around the world stay indoors to curb the spread of Covid-19, Artforum has invited artists to share a drawing—however they would like to define the word—made in self-isolation. Check back each day this week for a new work by a different artist.

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