COLUMNS

  • Film

    Mixed Signals

    A SON OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, in the course of two features Robert Eggers has established himself as a fanatic fetishist of the old, weird New England of popular imagination. His first, 2015’s The Witch, set in the forests of Plymouth Colony, took place in the seventeenth century Massachusetts associated with Nathaniel Hawthorne and his reckonings with the Puritan legacy, while his follow-up, the late Victorian period The Lighthouse, moves out to sea. We’re now in the territory of Herman Melville, whose work is at one point invoked, though Providence native H.P. Lovecraft is perhaps the more pertinent

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  • Passages

    Matthew Wong (1984–2019)

    I FIRST CAME ACROSS IMAGES of Matthew Wong’s paintings on Instagram some years ago. The platform is hardly ideal for transmitting the nuance, scale, and physicality of painting, but it does allow for the discovery of artists outside the traditional parameters of the contemporary art world. I don’t recall exactly what those early images were, only that their bold and charged simplifications of landscape brought to my mind the work of Milton Avery. As the images multiplied, so did the references: the unmistakable influence of Chinese landscape painting alongside Vuillard, Munch, Matisse, Alex

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  • Interviews

    Suzanne Treister

    Since the 1980s, the British artist Suzanne Treister has blended history and speculation in ways that many are moved to call hallucinatory, if not slightly paranoid. Her paintings and pioneering digital works have drawn on her interest in systems of observation and belief, from surveillance to theoretical physics. Often diagrammatic and filled with wordplay, her early pieces anticipate the technopolitics of the twenty-first century and presage postinternet-era arcana like a future-tense Hilma af Klint. On September 19, 2019, London’s Serpentine Galleries launched Treister’s augmented reality

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  • Film

    Cul de Sacked

    IF BONG JOON-HO’S PARASITE WERE AN EQUATION, it would be expressed as Space = Class2. Bong’s rippling socioeconomic comedy lays out inequality in both schematic and organic terms: two diametrically opposed worlds, two status-indicative smells (pristine affluence, dank deprivation), two intertwined households (each consisting of father, mother, son, and daughter). In one tight corner are the scrappy, underclass Kims, struggling to stay afloat in jury-rigged, “semi-basement” living quarters (their toilet is perched on a counter) at the wrong end of a flood-prone, bug-infested cul-de-sac. “Open

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  • Interviews

    Maren Hassinger

    Maren Hassinger very nearly became a dancer. As it happened, two fortuitous turns in her education in the 1970s led her to create sculptures hewn of fibrous metal and knotted detritus. From her early work in Los Angeles—including the 1979 installation of twelve wire rope “trees” near the Mulholland Drive exit ramp—to her recent “mandala” of repurposed pages from the New York Times, questions of ecological and spiritual consciousness have long underscored Hassinger’s practice. She is known for works in a range of media as well as for her collaborative bent. Following last year’s retrospective at

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  • Diary

    In the Wind

    ENCOUNTERS, BY DEFINITION, occur unexpectedly. Woven within the fabric of everyday life, like a tear, an encounter cracks the familiar. But how do you prompt this experience when the “encounters,” as the title of Timișoara’s current Art Encounters Biennial suggests, are expected to happen? One answer: You entwine the mystery of place. Located within the Banat, a geographical and historical region divided between Romania, Serbia, and Hungary, Timișoara has been defined by centuries of migration, both forced and voluntary, and is home to a deeply rooted, at times conflicted, ethnic diversity. (

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  • Diary

    Sashay Away

    I HAD FORGOTTEN how brutal London can be. Brutal in the sense that there is nothing effortless about everyday life in this gray world capital. After four days of tubing, training, queuing, and sprinting around the seventeenth edition of Frieze London, I was back on a flight across the big pond. Sinking into my seat, finally feeling somewhat at rest, I opened Benjamin Moser’s Susan Sontag biography to page forty-nine, where I had left off when my plane touched down at Heathrow a few days prior: “I’m only interested in people engaged in a project of self-transformation,” read the Sontag quote.

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  • Diary

    Fan Dancers and Marabou Prancers

    AS A DRAG QUEEN, it’s easy for me to relate to the burlesque scene. Both worlds abound with larger-than-life exhibitionists, dazzling musical numbers, campy humor, punny names, and flashy female artifice. The big difference, of course, is that burlesque displays a heck of a lot more bouncing boobs, many of which were on display at the recent New York Burlesque Festival and its climactic Golden Pasties Awards.

    Founded by one of the scene’s most accomplished performers, Angie Pontani, and events promoter Jen Gapay, the festival dates back to 2002, several years after the modern-day burlesque scene

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  • Diary

    Dear World

    Part I. Youth Climate Strike in NYC

    September 19

     “Fossil Fuel to the Climate Strike? We should take public transport.”

     “We have a drag queen in heels in a 40 lb. wig. Tell her that.”

    STRIKING WITH GRETA’S MOM requires its own hair and makeup detail. Aside from Greta, only New York’s reigning drag queen Lady Bunny could part the sea of young strikers during last week’s blistering Friday, when #ClimateStrikeNYC protestors marched from Foley Square to Battery Park. It was as if Bunny’s presence completed the unfinished third act of Moses and Aaron by Arnold Schoenberg, who laconically noted about

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  • Performance

    Here Comes the Son

    AS A THEATER PRACTIONER who has participated in the presentation of work at major museums in New York City and Europe, I’m no stranger to how the art world loves “hybrid” works of performance, which usually means the poor medium gets run through the blender of conceptualism in the name of some opaque inquiry, only to be spat back out in a so-called novel gesture. Reductions of theater to “performance” are often also thin, begging the question: How does an art practice grow when the porous social exchanges that feed its makers emotionally and aesthetically have been so utterly misappropriated by

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  • Architecture

    Another Story

    ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS YOU SEE when entering the Chicago Architecture Biennial, from either entrance, is a gray land acknowledgement sign with crisp white type: “Chicago is part of the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi nations. Many other tribes—such as the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Sac, and Fox—also called this area home. . .” Such recognitions have become more visible in recent years, but this text, prepared by the American Indian Center of Chicago, functions differently within its context than on, say, the bottom of an institutional website or

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  • Interviews

    Ebony G. Patterson

    Ebony G. Patterson’s slow and monumental video installation …three kings weep…, 2018, debuted in her solo exhibition at Pérez Art Museum Miami last year and is on view at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, until January 5, 2020, before it travels to the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, North Carolina. For one night only, the work can also be seen in Toronto during “Nuit Blanche,” a twelve-hour event on October 5, 2019, where visitors can glimpse nearly ninety artworks set around the city. (Patterson’s work will be on view in the Scarborough Civic Centre’s rotunda as part of the group

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