COLUMNS

  • Slant

    Photo Op

    I FLASH my SFMOMA lifetime artist membership card, and the woman at the counter asks me, “What do you have in the collection?” Her question gets me tense. A few months after the museum sent me the card in the mail—a total surprise—some brainiac in acquisitions questioned my eligibility, and they threatened to revoke my membership. See me on the phone, shouting at a museum bureaucrat, “You’ve got to be kidding me! This is beyond tacky.” I do not know if this cheerful woman now is just being chatty or if this is a test. I tell her my husband has a piece in the Kikibox. She looks confused and asks,

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  • Music

    Stream Logic

    ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR, if we are lucky, the corporations that stockpile and sell data generated by our digital habits share a glimpse of it with us. For Spotify, this happens in December. “You listened to 3,436 different songs on Spotify this year,” ran the Swedish streaming company’s automatically personalized email to me (and roughly two-hundred million other users)—“but which will be your #1?” I clicked through, certain that Carl Stone’s 1986 “Shing Kee” was top of my list.

    Carl Stone has been cutting music into very small pieces for a very long time. His oeuvre constitutes a powerful investigation

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  • Interviews

    Forensic Architecture

    The Triple-Chaser—a teargas grenade banned in international warfare but routinely deployed by defense forces against civilians both stateside and abroad—is one of the many weapons manufactured by the Safariland Group, whose CEO, Warren B. Kanders, is the vice chair of the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Kanders’s ties to the New York institution have fueled heated protests in the run-up to this year’s Whitney Biennial, which opens May 17, 2019 (more than half of the exhibition’s artists have called for his removal from the board). Among the dissenters is Forensic Architecture, a

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  • Books

    Ask Me, Ask Me, Ask Me

    The vibrant Toronto-based magazine Impulse ran from 1971 to 1990 and focused on primary texts from cultural creators, such as Kathy Acker, Patti Smith, Joyce Wieland, and Dennis Oppenheim. In the case of nonvisual artists, these appeared in the form of interviews. Impulse[b]—a publishing house that serves as a conceptual continuation of Impulse—recently published a facsimile anthology of Impulse interviews, including discussions with Sylvère Lotringer, Blondie, Paul Virilio, Michel Foucault, and Wim Wenders. Below, Tatum Dooley speaks with Eldon Garnet—the former editor of Impulse—about the art

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  • Diary

    Persons of Interest

    INTERESTING. Few words have such angular ambiguity, signifying both a viewer’s interpretive generosity while subtly acknowledging that the thing in question just might not be that good. Ralph Rugoff, the artistic director of the fifty-eighth Venice Biennale, which opened Tuesday to select press and professionals, played on the word’s double meaning in the title for his show, “May You Live in Interesting Times,” a phrase attributed as an “ancient Chinese curse,” but, like, the Ivanka Trump/fortune cookie variety, with no actual “ancient” or “Chinese.” The dash of Orientalism was either snarkily

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  • Diary

    Poetic Justice

    “WHAT HAS MORALITY WON US?” This provocative question, posed by Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer, activist, and professor at New York University School of Law, lingered in the room on the second day of the “Vision and Justice” conference at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. It was asked during the “Mass Incarceration and Visual Narratives” panel, one of numerous events in the two-day symposium “Vision and Justice,” organized by professor Sarah Lewis. The convening’s ambitious programming took on the archive, gentrification, the prison-industrial complex, police states, Flint, racialized

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  • Performance

    Live After Death

    IN THE LOBBY OF THE KITCHEN, a small black table offers tiny plastic cups of clear alcohol—wine or liquor I can’t be sure, and I don’t actually know the color of absinthe, but it seems like an appropriately gothic choice for this event—a staging of Anohni’s SHE WHO SAW BEAUTIFUL THINGS, advertised as “a two-act surrealist and absurdist drama containing music, painting, video and performance.” I imagine the preshow drink as ritualistically endowed with a kind of ceremonial magic useful for conjuring up the past. A merch table offers, among other staples, vinyls of Anohni’s music, which I first

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  • Diary

    Brain Frieze

    THE PURE WHITE TENT of Frieze New York is all too readily seen as a temple to the quasi-religion of contemporary art’s makers and markets, so it made a kind of sense that at least one of its satellite events took place in an actual church. Presented by avant designer Grace Wales Bonner at the rigorously modernist Saint Peter’s Church in midtown Manhattan, last Thursday’s Devotional Sound evening continued the concert series organized by Serpentine Galleries that was inaugurated at London’s Saint John’s Church this past January. Framed as an accompaniment to Wales Bonner’s Serpentine exhibition,

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  • Interviews

    Anna K.E.

    That harmony, like beauty, often comes from invention within repertoire and constriction is reflected in the Tbilisi-born artist Anna K.E.’s work, which is marked by the gestures of a ballerina and the design of a choreographer. For the Fifty-Eighth Venice Biennale, K.E. will bring together performance, video, sculpture, and hieroglyphs from Asomtavruli, the original Georgian alphabet, in a single architectural environment for the Georgian pavilion, curated by Margot Norton. Below, she discusses REARMIRRORVIEW, Simulation is Simulation, is Simulation, is Simulation, 2019, which will be on view

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  • Slant

    Subject Lessons

    IN MARCH, Isaac Julien’s show “Lessons of the Hour – Frederick Douglass” premiered at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, a week before it opened at Metro Pictures in New York during Armory Week. I caught a flight upstate for a weekend of events surrounding the debut and was toured around sites important both to Douglass’s life and to Julien’s process, including the George Eastman Museum, the graves of Anna Murray Douglass and Douglass, and Highland Park—the location of a 120-year-old bronze statue of Douglass, the first public monument in the country to memorialize a black American. Julien’s

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  • Music

    Story of O)))

    EARLIER THIS YEAR, the French composer and artist Éliane Radigue published an essay called “Time Is of No Importance” in a collection called Spectres. In it, she writes: “Like plants, immobile but always growing, my music is never stable. It is ever changing. But the changes are so slight that they are almost imperceptible, and only become apparent after the fact.” The music of SUNN O))) lives in a similar balance, alive and immobile, exceptionally loud but not cruel.

    For their show at Brooklyn Steel on April 25, the core duo of guitarists Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson were joined by Tim

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  • Interviews

    Akosua Adoma Owusu

    The Ghanaian American filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu blends whatever she needs to make her point—including found footage, narratives, and pop culture—into films that are by turns surreal and confrontationally explicit in their meditations. Below, Owusu looks back on the first decade of her career, a milestone marked by two upcoming projects: “Between Three Worlds,” a screening of her work at REDCAT in Los Angeles on May 6, 2019, and “Welcome to the Jungle,” an exhibition at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, which will be on view from May 9 through July 27, 2019. The

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