COLUMNS

  • Books

    Gayle Salamon

    In this memoir about love, stepparenthood, loss, grief, sex, friendship, and music, Peter Coviello explores how we create worlds with others and how we lose them, making vivid the vertiginous feeling of falling out of one’s own life. He captures with descriptive precision the kinds of love for which there are no proper descriptors. Long Players: A Love Story in Eighteen Songs (Penguin) is a story about being decimated by a lover’s betrayal that simultaneously unpeels that story. He leans with equal rapture into subjects as disparate as the National and Charles Dickens, about whom Coviello writes:

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  • Books

    Simone White

    Inside the chaos of late September, when “we” received the sneering physiognomy of Brett Kavanaugh into “our” homes with varying degrees of grief and cynicism, I became even more sure that Lost Empress by Sergio de la Pava (Pantheon) (a public defender by day who became a literary legend before you could buy his work) was the best book I read this year. Here converge a superrich and unlikable woman-football-baron and her factotum-slash-mentee (both booty-trance-inducing Brown grads) between whom Joni Mitchell’s music stands in for actual tenderness; a criminal genius who may or may not lose his

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  • Interviews

    Dayanita Singh

    The Delhi-born photographer Dayanita Singh published her first book, Zakir Hussain, in 1986. The eleven books that followed, including Museum Bhavan (2017), document and form the bedrock for Singh’s observational and omnivorous photography. Interested in the photobook’s relationship to other objects and infrastructures, Singh has increasingly drafted custom objects—from bespoke cabinets, cases, and desks to bookshelves and beds—to serve as mechanisms of display and logical extensions of her project. Her work is currently featured in the Fifty-Seventh Carnegie International at the

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  • Books

    Gone Guy

    Chalk: The Art and Erasure of Cy Twombly by Joshua Rivkin. Melville House, 2018. 478 pages.

    SINCE HIS DEATH IN 2011, there have been whispers of a Cy Twombly biography. A book that might, finally, through impeccable research—a thorough examination of the artist’s life and times, not to mention the literary, historical, and artistic references endowing his oeuvre with a dense texturality—shed light on the enigma of Twombly, slashing through the cliché portrayals of a Jamesian aristocrat abroad to reveal the fertile creative psyche of the man who broke all the rules, who overwrote all

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  • Film

    Home Truths

    I KNOW MONEY IS TIGHT, and given your $10.99 monthly Netflix bill, why should you pay for a movie theater ticket to see Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, a movie shot digitally that isn’t even in color, when you’ll be able to stream it any time you like, beginning December 14? Trust me, if it’s at all possible, get to a theater. Financed independently and then sold to Netflix, Roma plays for three weeks in art cinemas worldwide before it begins its streaming life. Well, half-life. Some of you may know this writer as the fanatic who insists that Warhol’s 16-mm celluloid movies become “nothing at all”—thanks,

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  • Passages

    Ntozake Shange (1948–2018)

    her / page

    / was it leaning or pushing / resting or hurrying /

    along did / it slic/e / did it su/tu/re / how are /

    w/e / blackened by col/onial modern/it/y to wor/k in /

    and / with / and against / and a/longs/ide this

    motion / this wav/e thi/s hi/sto/ry moving in / us

    as / us / move/ing / us

    what / she asked / did words / do / when we use/d

    them and they / in turn / used us / what did they /

    demand as / sacrifice / what did the/y seve/r what /

    did t/hey j/oin / and how / did w/e sal/vage

    some/thing in the / j/oin/t / som/e/thing w/e might

    su/rviv/e

    when I first encou/ntered Ntozake Shange’s slashes

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  • Interviews

    Lawrence Abu Hamdan

    As many as thirteen thousand people have been executed at the Saydnaya Military Prison in Syria since 2011, a number that remains an estimate as the site is inaccessible to independent monitors. The prisoners are mostly kept in the dark or blindfolded and thus develop a sharp awareness of sounds. Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s current exhibition in London details the experiences of former Saydnaya detainees through an extensive sound library and a listening room, with an audio essay charting the subtle transformations of their voices within Saydnaya following the 2011 uprising in Syria. “Earwitness

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  • Diary

    Happy Birthday, Zayed!

    THE SAME DAY Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan aggressively implicated the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his royal highness was busy headlining the second annual Future Investment Initiative—dubbed “Davos in the Desert” for its congregation of mega-executives and heads of state—at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton. Despite cautious last-minute cancellations from many, the prince appeared ebullient and pithily announced the success of the conference: “More people, more money.”

    The inverse—“more money, more people”—is true

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  • Diary

    Rush Hour

    FOR THE NINTH EDITION of the annual Lagos Photo Festival, “Time Has Gone,” twenty-three artists hailing from Myanmar to Madagascar displayed their works across ten venues in Nigeria’s commercial capital. The four curators—Eva Barois De Caevel, Charlotte Langhorst, Wunika Mukan, and Valentine Umansky—invited participants to take up the idea of nostalgia, reinterpret the past, investigate archival practices, and, essentially, try to slow down time: an impossible twist on the festival’s themes. To my mind, the show primarily offered one thing: uncertainty.

    It all started out promisingly

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  • Interviews

    Hank Willis Thomas

    Why do we believe the stories we’re told? The artist Hank Willis Thomas recasts pop culture iconography to foreground the ways that representation dissembles. His recently published monograph, All Things Being Equal... (Aperture, 2018), is a comprehensive survey of his photographic approaches. The book is also a prelude to his first solo museum show, which debuts in October 2019 at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon.

    I’D BEEN TALKING WITH APERTURE about doing another book since 2008, after publishing my first monograph, Pitch Blackness. Over the past couple of years the conversation

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  • Film

    Snide and Petulance

    THE FAVOURITE MAY BE MARKED AS A DEPARTURE for director Yorgos Lanthimos but, unusual among his peers in a film festival circuit that often rewards familiarity, his recent work has comprised a series of such departures, this following an English-language debut with The Lobster (2015) and an American excursion in The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017). Now we have Lanthimos’s first period film, set at the beginning of the eighteenth century during the reign of Queen Anne, though a particularly irreverent and tawdry approach to the hallowed tradition of the English heritage film, with four-letter

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  • Passages

    Takehisa Kosugi (1938–2018)

    IN HIS FORMATIVE YEARS as an ethnomusicology student in the Tokyo of the late 1950s, Takehisa Kosugi’s artistic field of reference included Luigi Russolo, Michel Leiris, and Pierre Schaeffer. If the first and the last are not surprising as musical models—the Futurist’s “noise” instrumentation, and the founder of musique concrète’s concern with the “variation of matter” to be derived from alternative sound sources—looking to Leiris and the Collège de Sociologie as a model for research set Kosugi’s circle apart from their artist peers and the late Surrealism that held sway in the 1950s.

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