COLUMNS

  • Books

    COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS

    Expanded Cinema, by Gene Youngblood. New York: Fordham University Press, 2020. 464 pages.

    WHAT IF FILM CRITICISM could be read as science fiction? The thought crossed my mind as I was revisiting Gene Youngblood’s influential 1970 survey, Expanded Cinema. Republished by Fordham University Press on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary after decades out of print, it’s a book that functions as history and augury at once. Youngblood offers, as the title suggests, an integrative approach to some of the most radical nodes of moviemaking in the 1960s, bringing together bodies of work that might

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  • Architecture

    MISSED CONNECTIONS

    THE COLD WAR is not remembered as a love story. More frequently recounted as a cautionary tale of mutual distrust, antagonism, and the looming specter of global nuclear annihilation, the era has been memorialized in literature, art, and cinema—think Dr. Strangelove or From Russia with Love—through caricatures that capitalize on fears of evil Russian ambitions to undermine American sovereignty. 

    “Building a new New World: Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture,” at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, plumbs architectural history to suggest an alternative reading of the bilateral

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  • Top Ten

    Jaimie Warren

    Jaimie Warren is a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist and a cocreator of the community arts project Whoop Dee Doo. “The Miracle,” her first institutional solo show in New York, is currently on view at Pioneer Works and will culminate in a large-scale Exorcist-themed musical on April 4 and 11.

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  • Diary

    X-Files

    “MASHA’ALLAH,” exclaimed my fellow travelers upon learning that I was headed from Jeddah to the holy city of Medina: the Pakistani driver, the jolly Saudi desk agent, my Sudanese seatmate with bloodshot eyes. When I explained, in broken Arabic, that I would continue on to Al ‘Ula, a speck of a town more than a hundred miles away, they were less impressed. In 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman set up the royal commission of Al ‘Ula (RCU) to develop the backwater’s breathtakingly preserved, UNESCO-anointed carved rock art of the ancient Lihyan and Nabatean kingdoms into a premier tourist

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  • Music

    Old Friends

    ANTHONY BRAXTON HAS TACKLED JAZZ STANDARDS throughout his career: from an unexpected mid-’70s appearance alongside his hero Lee Konitz on an obscure Dave Brubeck record, to outstanding recordings with Hank Jones and Mal Waldron, to a hefty eleven disc box set of sixty-eight Charlie Parker pieces. “I did the music because I love that music, I love that period, that is my lineage,” he told Graham Lock in 1985. Standards, for Braxton, are not some sort of side project or way of proving himself as a “legitimate” jazz musician. Instead, they are tools for responding to the history of the diverse

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  • Diary

    Pleasure Dome

    SMASHED BETWEEN adult-film star Sasha Grey, filmmaker-artist Miranda July, and underground legend Ian Svenonius in the space of Wolfgang Puck’s original Spago on the Sunset Strip, a weird claustrophobia set in. So I skipped outside to watch magickian-artist Brian Butler, sword in hand, hollering Luciferean incantations in a bloodred glow as the moon rose above him. I half expected a demon to leap out from the Hollywood sign and eat us all in a single, wet gulp. The second edition of Frieze Los Angeles launched last week, along with cluster of ride-along art fairs, from the long-standing Art Los

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  • Music

    Ambient Conditions

    TUCKED BETWEEN the few discrete layers of indeterminate guitar phrases that make up “It’s Late,” the fifth track on Santa Fe–based musician Theodore Cale Schafer’s latest album, Patience (2019), is a nonmusical rustling, like a phone recording of someone walking outside: boots on gravel or dry leaves, keys clanking, some laughter. These details stand out for the degree to which they’re effective, but not useful; of a place, but not a place the listener quite has access to; personal and intimate, but without the attendant narrative dramas.

    Schafer has a dry way of arranging sounds. In his music,

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  • Music

    Love Streams

    HAVING MOVED TO BERLIN from New York last September, I was dismayed to learn that Valentine’s Day is also a thing in Germany. It’s not just that the holiday tends to endorse a set of normative conventions around love (heterosexuality, monogamy, consumerism); it also reminds me that I might want parts of these normative conventions (despite—or because of—my usual queer predilections, which tend towards non-monogamy, long-distance, etc.). In preparation for this piece, I read Dodie Bellamy’s Valentine’s Day essay in this magazine: to my horror, Bellamy confessed her own attachment to February

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  • Diary

    Continental Drift

    A CLOUD OF SMOKE rippled around Dhaka’s Shilpakala Academy late in the afternoon. Through it, we could see the occasional flame. Everyone continued chatting, unsure of what we were looking at, until a group in silver hazmat suits ascended a mound of dirt. We watched as the moonmen tended to the fires, part of a smelting performance by Swiss artist Raphael Hefti. Originally commissioned for a volcano in Milan, the heavy-metal presentation was meant to convey “part of the epic story of human civilization,” per the exhibition notes. Unluckily for me, it only prompted platitudes and non sequiturs

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  • Film

    Baroque Faith

    THE FIRST IMAGE in Pedro Costa’s Vitalina Varela is an empty street at night, from which a few headstones marking a cemetery are visible. It’s a grisaille, so denuded of color that you process the image as monochrome, and as such it’s a little disconcerting when a cortege passes through and a few hints of pigment—skin, a brown knit cap—become visible among the mourners, all black, all middle-aged or older, some walking with difficulty.

    I thought I recognized the street, hemmed in by high walls of concrete, though I’ve never been to Portugal. I thought, perhaps, it was one of those corridor-like

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  • Diary

    Friend Zona

    “IS SOMETHING SPECIAL HAPPENING in Mexico City this week?” Rachel Kushner asked. I introduced myself to her during Laura Owens’s opening at House of Gaga, a day before Material and Zona Maco began. Kushner, in town to support her friend, was somewhat surprised to be running into so many other Angelenos. Owens’s dreamy abstractions, atypically small, hung well in the modest gallery—paintings and watercolors the size you’d hang in a breakfast nook, set off by custom wallpapers bearing cartoonish lemons and stripes in rogue geometries. A tiny rat in a hat and coat was painted in the corner. “It’s

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  • Interviews

    Kim Westfall

    The New York–based artist Kim Westfall’s cheeky compositions of tufted yarn contend with the banality of selfhood. Her works find humor in the insatiable human ambitions for uniqueness and authenticity, but also manifest real longing for deeper meaning and social cohesion. Her latest tapestries draw connections between human reproduction, the mechanical reproduction inherent in her medium, and ideologies of the ego that keep us stuck on repeat. “Splendid Bitch” opened on January 23, 2020, and runs through March 7, 2020, at White Columns in New York.

    THE THING ABOUT TEXTILES IS IT’S THE FREAK

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