COLUMNS

  • Slant

    As Above, So Below

    THIS VIRAL PHOTOGRAPH by AFP’s Anas Baba—published on May 14, about four days after the start of the Israeli military’s “Operation Guardian of Walls” in Gaza—has already been crowned by the local and international media as the definitive image of this latest wave of suffering, which continues despite the “cease-fire” announced on Friday. As Israeli TV news broadcasters went on about the search for a “victory photo” to mark the end of the fighting, Baba’s photograph, shot from inside the prison of Gaza, offered a depiction of spectacular deadlock.

    Each of the parties (there are of course more than

    Read more
  • Film

    Track Changes

    CALL ME A KNEE-JERK PESSIMIST, but I can’t help but feel that America’s about as ready to embrace an emotionally and intellectually challenging art movie in ten parts as it is to come to a full reckoning with slavery and its stubborn, protracted legacy—which is to say, I don’t think it’s ready for Barry Jenkins’s The Underground Railroad.

    As I’m writing this, Jenkins’s adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s cunning and stormy antebellum picaresque is only beginning to stream its way through Amazon Prime. In the first couple days, I’ve sensed initial confusion from some in the viewing public who may

    Read more
  • Music

    Hearing Voices

    FROM THE EARLY TO MID-1990s, the Brooklyn-based installation artist Kristin Oppenheim made hushed, hypnotic, almost impossibly minimal recordings, singing with herself, by herself. At the time, visitors to galleries in New York, Nice, or Milan might have stumbled upon them playing from a tape deck displayed on a plinth, or perhaps hidden from view. The first of these recordings she considered finished, 1992’s “Shake Me,” is a loop of roughly twenty-two seconds, repeated some twenty times, of Oppenheim softly warbling the title. Yet the track sounds massive, at least emotionally. With each

    Read more
  • Interviews

    Christopher K. Ho and Daisy Nam

    In January 2020, shortly before they went into lockdown, artist Christopher K. Ho and curator Daisy Nam realized that they were both independently pursuing projects related to letters: Ho a letter of apology to his former RISD students, whom he felt he had failed as an Asian American mentor, and Nam a program of live readings of existing letters of redress, including ones penned by Sylvia Wynter, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and Angela Davis. The pair had met through a leadership group at Asia Art Archive in America focused on the model-minority myth and ways of dismantling it and were now turning to

    Read more
  • Slant

    Tour de Bourse

    MAY 19 WAS A HISTORIC DAY IN FRANCE. After six months of Covid-19 lockdown, restaurants, cinemas, theaters, and museums finally reopened to the public. In Paris, a hub for fine dining and fine art, this major step toward normalcy was feted like a national holiday as institutions including the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, and Musée d’Art Moderne welcomed back visitors. Adding to the excitement, the city will gain a brand-new shrine to contemporary art on May 22: François Pinault’s collection at the Bourse de Commerce.

    The Bourse seems uniquely well suited to house works acquired by the

    Read more
  • Slant

    Looking at Gaza

    IN 2005, a group of photographers took a stand alongside the people of the small Palestinian town of Bil’in, and documented their fight to stop the Israeli government’s construction of the infamous separation wall in the occupied West Bank. Inspired by the possibility of co-resisting the occupation, the group went on to form Activestills, a collective of Palestinian, Israeli, and international photographers whose work has become vital in picturing the struggle against Israel’s colonial policies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Activestills’s photographs are not meant to create

    Read more
  • Books

    Face Value

    Isabelle Graw, Three Cases of Value Reflection: Ponge, Whitten, Banksy. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2021. 64 pages.

    ISABELLE GRAW’S oft-cited 2009 book, High Price, which explores art’s economy of fame and prestige as the prototype for creative labor under capitalism, was published just after the collapse of a speculative bubble in the market for contemporary art. Now, roughly a decade later, Three Cases of Value Reflection: Ponge, Whitten, Banksy arrives contemporaneously with a series of meteoric high-dollar sales of NFTs (“nonfungible tokens”), a class of digital nonobjects that seems to reduce

    Read more
  • Interviews

    Night Watch

    A BELATED BREAKTHROUGH, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s mid-career survey “Fly in League with the Night” is the first solo exhibition devoted to a Black British woman artist in the Tate’s history. It’s an appropriate backdrop for the painter’s body of work, whose entrancing portraits of imagined characters, painted from memory, meditate deeply on how history is made and unmade. Below, Yiadom-Boakye discusses her path as an artist and writer, the need to build new places of belonging, and the divine powers of watchfulness.

    — Rianna Jade Parker

    Rianna Jade Parker: I’ve told everybody that visiting your

    Read more
  • Interviews

    Rindon Johnson

    Visitors to Rindon Johnson’s “The Law of Large Numbers: Our Bodies” at New York’s SculptureCenter (March 25–August 2, 2021) pass first under the drawn whole hide of a cow. On damp days, the skin droops; in the rain, it holds water; the sun bakes it solid. It also gathers more than moisture. Before being hung, the rawhide spent six months in the museum courtyard, cooking and flexing, adding marks to those accumulated during the cow’s life. The piece is a harbinger—for the stained-glass courtyard door depicting New York City’s watershed; for the continuous rendering of an edgeless Atlantic Ocean;

    Read more
  • Slant

    Exclusion Acts

    #STOPASIANHATE HAS BECOME a rallying cry in response to the surge in anti-Asian violence since the beginning of the pandemic, from random, brutal attacks on the elderly to a white gunman’s murder of six Asian women as well as two others in Atlanta in March. As incidents of anti-Asian violence have accumulated alongside a continuous stream of viral videos of police officers killing Black people, there has been a tendency to collapse all forms of anti-Asian and anti-Black racial violence into an amorphous framework of “white supremacy.” At the same time, videos of Black men attacking Asians have

    Read more
  • Diary

    Yard Sale

    FRIEZE’S LITTLE CARNIVAL SNUCK UP ON US, much like Andrew Yang’s mayoral campaign. Fellow New Yorkers, I implore you, do not space on the primary election (June 22), and do not vote for this jovial empty suit. Perhaps his support for the recent Israeli violence in Palestine will have gotten your attention? The motherfucker will trade affordable housing for the Olympics or an Iron Dome. It will just be Bloomberg 2.0, which resulted in criminal offenses like Hudson Yards.

    Hudson Yards, coincidentally, was the site of this year’s Frieze art fair, which abandoned Randall’s Island for the first time

    Read more
  • Film

    Pain Quotidian

    RIGID, ASHEN, AND CAMOUFLAGED against backgrounds intricately rendered in fifty shades of greige, characters throughout Roy Andersson’s 2014 A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence repeat the line “I’m happy to hear you’re doing fine.” Paired with the likes of a tortured, electrode-bound lab monkey and a man in an office on the brink of suicide—not to mention the entire film’s haunting by one Boschian vision of colonial terror—this recurring utterance becomes a searingly insipid punch line. Andersson, in Pigeon and the other two films in his “Living Trilogy,” depicts the symbiosis of

    Read more