COLUMNS

  • Diary

    On and On and On

    ERIK MET ME for dinner in Stockholm, where I had a few hours to kill before my night train north. We sat alone in the large and self-consciously old-fashioned restaurant in the central station while a second wave of Covid-19 ravaged the Swedish capital. Unlike in Germany, establishments—and, crucially for my visit, exhibitions—remain open here. Throughout the pandemic, the state has declined to enforce the use of masks and social distancing, appealing instead to people’s sense of civic responsibility to control the virus, though the government is now reconsidering this strategy. “It sounded

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  • Film

    John Waters

    Film director John Waters is working on a novel titled Liarmouth. His last book Mr. Know-It-All (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019), was just released in paperback.

    1

    BUTT BOY
    (Tyler Cornack)

    A jaw-dropping, deadpan, bowel-bonkers thriller about a heterosexual dad who after a routine visit to his proctologist becomes a serial killer and inhales his victims up his ass, I kid you not. First a dog, then a child, and finally the very cop who pursues him. The finale takes place inside Dad’s rectum. Ah, they don’t make ’em like they used to!

    2

    SWALLOW
    (Carlo Mirabella-Davis)

    What can I say? I love movies

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  • Film

    Amy Taubin

    Amy Taubin is a contributing editor of Artforum.

    1

    THE HANDY, AFFORDABLE-TO-EVERYONE, MOVING-IMAGE CAMERA

    Dziga Vertov’s idea that the motion-picture camera could speak truth to power and therefore was essential to democratic social and cultural aspiration found ample traction in the 1960s, when an army of filmmakers waged resistance with 16-mm and analog video newsreels. This tradition today manifests in the countless nonfiction works largely shot with small video and cellphone cameras, among them two of the great movies of the year, Garrett Bradley’s Time, which focuses on activist Fox Rich

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  • Film

    James Quandt

    James Quandt, Senior Programmer at TIFF Cinematheque in Toronto, is the editor of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Austrian Film Museum, 2009) and Robert Bresson (Revised) (Indiana University Press, 2012).

    Of the hundreds of films I have watched during the coronavirus lockdown, most were classics on the Criterion Channel or Kanopy, so my pandemic Top Ten is culled exclusively from the superbly curated 2020 New York Film Festival.

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    1

    THE WOMAN WHO RAN (Hong Sang-soo)

    Hong’s brisk, bucolic social comedy comprises a series of seemingly equable conversations that are inevitably invaded by neighborly dispute,

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  • Film

    Erika Balsom

    Erika Balsom is a reader in film studies at King’s College London. Most recently, she is the coeditor of Artists’ Moving Image in Britain Since 1989 (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art/Yale University Press, 2019).

    1

    “DEFIANT MUSES: DELPHINE SEYRIG AND THE FEMINIST VIDEO COLLECTIVES IN FRANCE IN THE 1970S AND 1980S” (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; curated by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez and Giovanna Zapperi) and “OUT OF THE SHADOWS: THE PIONEERING WORK OF ATTEYAT AL-ABNOUDY, ASSIA DJEBAR, JOCELYNE SAAB, HEINY SROUR” (Courtisane Festival, Ghent, Belgium)

    In this strange

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  • Music

    David Grubbs

    David Grubbs is a Brooklyn-based musician and writer. His most recent book is The Voice in the Headphones (Duke University Press, 2020). His album with The Underflow, Instant Opaque Evening (Blue Chopsticks), is forthcoming.

    1

    OKKYUNG LEE, YEO-NEUN (Shelter Press)

    I spent much of the year grateful for the steady stream of new music, but daily dread made it difficult to connect with much of it. Yeo-Neun is the rare album that drew me close in any setting, and in a season of indecision, Lee’s compositions for cello, piano, bass, and harp rewarded every listen.

    2

    SPEAKER MUSIC, BLACK NATIONALIST

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  • Music

    Perfume Genius

    Mike Hadreas, AKA Perfume Genius, is a musician from Seattle. His most recent album is Set My Heart On Fire Immediately (Matador, 2020).

    **

    1

    WESTERMAN, YOUR HERO IS NOT DEAD (Partisan)

    Somehow strange, inventive, and forward-thinking—but still warm and familiar. My favorite cocktail.

    2

    JULIANNA BARWICK, HEALING IS A MIRACLE (Ninja Tune)

    Barwick’s musical salve truly slows down time, making you feel held. After a song is over, you feel like you’ve been recalibrated.

    3

    NINA SIMONE, “MY WAY” (RCA Victor)

    I want this cover to be played at my funeral. This is well known by those around me, so I might as

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  • Books

    Marguerite Duras's Me & Other Writing and Duras/Godard Dialogues

    A certain scene between Marguerite Duras and Susan Sontag, told to me by someone who was friends with both and seated between them while Susan was visiting Paris, goes like this: Duras had just made a new film, and, in keeping with her character, she spoke at Susan in a monologic séance, going on and on about herself, her new film, and critical reactions to her new film. After speaking for most of the occasion they were together, Duras suddenly quieted and seemed to notice Sontag qua Sontag, and not just any old audience to her tirade. “Susan! My goodness. I have only talked and talked, and I

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  • Books

    Yvonne Rainer's Work 1961–73

    A big black-and-white book, first published in 1973 and prettily reissued by Primary Information, Work 1961–73 collects screenplays, photographs, flyers, and essays, which comprise an odd monument to thirteen years of scrupulous, self-inflicted, paradoxically rebellious discipline that took the form, for Yvonne Rainer, of dances and films. Devotees will find much to relish: Loaded with documentation and reflections, the book gives a sinuous and often funny account of the first stirrings of Judson Dance Theater, breathing life into an avant-garde now hardened into history. But it’s also a tour

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  • Books

    Ciaran Carson's Still Life

    The poet Ciaran Carson, who died of lung cancer in October 2019, was master of the long line, and chronicler of his hometown’s civil war. Books like Belfast Confetti (1989) will survive. Still Life, whose title is similarly painful, was published in Ireland in the month of Carson’s death, and in the US this past February (Wake Forest). It bids farewell to life in a sequence of seventeen poems about paintings and prints, all of them treasured, one or two of them—a still life of a bowl by Jeffrey Morgan, a print by James Allen—in the poet’s possession.

    Many poets write poems about paintings; few,

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  • Books

    Gene Youngblood's Expanded Cinema

    Stan VanDerBeek coined the phrase “expanded cinema.” But it was Gene Youngblood who put it on the cover of a book, filled it with rocket fuel, and sent it buzzing through the late-1960s art world like a heat-seeking missile. For its fiftieth anniversary, Expanded Cinema has been lovingly reissued by Fordham University Press with a substantial new memoir-ish introduction by the author. The volume reminds us to locate the techno-anarchic edge of what became “new media” on the left coast, where filmmakers, psychedelic engineers, and intermedia practitioners wrested cybernetics from its military

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  • Books

    Suzanne Preston Blier's Picasso’s Demoiselles: The Untold Origins of a Modern Masterpiece

    In Picasso’s Demoiselles: The Untold Origins of a Modern Masterpiece (Duke), Suzanne Preston Blier presents a deeply nuanced investigation into the mysteries of the links between Pablo Picasso’s Les demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907, and African art and the African presence in Europe. Weaving together an intricate tapestry (genealogy?) composed of the works of other artists (André Derain, Henri Matisse) and writers (Gertrude Stein) in Picasso’s circle; the scene at his studio, Le Bateau-Lavoir, in Montmartre; then-extant collections of ethnographic photographs of nude women of color; and the African

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