COLUMNS

  • Interviews

    The Otolith Group

    The Otolith Group’s latest video, O Horizon, 2018, comes out of a long-standing research interest in Rabindranath Tagore and his founding of Visva-Bharati, a school in Santiniketan, West Bengal, India, which was meant to be a living laboratory and an experiment in art, life, and craft. Here, the founders of the group, Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar, discuss their motivations for shooting on location and the Tagorean ethics that animate the work. O Horizon made its debut at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York, where it is currently on view through September 17, 2018. The work will travel to the

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  • Diary

    Down in Front

    BEFORE THE CUYAHOGA RIVER CAUGHT FIRE, searing into the public’s imagination an unfair but dogged metaphor for a Cleveland in decline, Tennessee Williams is rumored to have delivered a sicker burn: “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” The claim isn’t entirely without truth. In 2018, Cleveland—with its deindustrialization, police violence, segregation, and purple politics—is a microcosm for “The American City,” which is in fact the subtitle of the inaugural edition of FRONT, a multimillion-dollar international triennial that

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  • Passages

    David Goldblatt (1930–2018)

    PERHAPS THE SUBJECT THAT DAVID GOLDBLATT MOST IDENTIFIED WITH was the Karoo desert, the Great and the Little, the desiccated stillness and the dusty roads that cross it. Farmlands Uitkyk, Bushmanland, Northern Cape, 27 June 2004, 2004, which he chose for the cover of the 2014 Steidl reissue of Regarding Intersections, was a sterling example of it, the kind of terrain Goldblatt privately called “fuck-all.” Was it the refusal embedded in these surfaces that induced him to stare so long, to dig so hard? Whatever the provocation, he was a photographer—and a person—who needed to get to the core of

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  • Music

    On the Infinite Plane

    TONY CONRAD PASSED AWAY in 2016 at the age of seventy-six, leaving behind a sprawling and idiosyncratic body of work that spanned over five decades. His voluminous output was not always legible to the mainstream; it wasn’t always legible to the avant-garde either. The remarkable recent exhibition “Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective” at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York—with additional works on display at the University of Buffalo, where the artist taught from 1976 until shortly before he died—is wide-ranging and ambitious in scope. Was Conrad a composer, a sound artist,

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  • Film

    Oh Henri!

    THE PHRASE THAT PHOTOGRAPHER HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON IS FOREVER LINKED TO—that of “The Decisive Moment”—seems near to an assertion of the primacy of the still image’s power over that of the moving image, the single absolutely right frame over hundreds of approximate ones, and suspended tension and mystery over unfurling drama. The phrase provides the title for an exhibition of Cartier-Bresson’s photographs currently on display at the International Center for Photography, accompanied by a program of moving-image work produced by or dedicated to the photographer at Anthology Film Archives. In a

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  • Diary

    Everything Old Is New Again

    ONE REASON I’VE ALWAYS LOVED THIS PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL is the faded splendor of the city itself. An ancient limestone gem of some fifty thousand inhabitants, Arles lies along the Rhône River, bordering the swamps of the Camargue. Should you go, mosquito repellent is a must for Arles’s nights. Roman remnants, such as the arena and the theater, silently compete with early Christian and Romanesque churches. Residential homes and nineteenth-century industrial buildings further bridge the eras. During the opening week at the beginning of July, many of these venues hosted events and workshops, book

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  • Interviews

    John Akomfrah

    The London-based artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah has three solo exhibitions on view in the United States this summer: “Signs of Empire,” his largest US survey to date, is at the New Museum in New York through September 2, 2018; “Sublime Seas” is on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art through September 16, 2018; and “Precarity” is at the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, North Carolina, until September 2, 2018. Below, Akomfrah discusses his embrace of collage and the digital, and the timely thread of migration that runs throughout his work.

    THE STRANGE THING about having three shows

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  • Slant

    All My Trials

    THE MATERNAL BODY INCLUDES THE CHILD. The maternal body includes the dilated aura inside and outside the body that admits, and nourishes, another: thus it is also the enveloping aura into which consensual lovers are welcomed. And the magic space that is ripped open when thieves enter looking for easy wealth and plunder. The cultures now ruling the planet treat it similarly.

    Textbook medical astrology will tell you Cancer rules the breasts/chest, the stomach, and the alimentary canal. Which, it seems to me, would include not only what extends from the buccal opening but also our first channel for

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  • Interviews

    Keith Sonnier

    This summer (and beyond), the East End of Long Island, New York, is a prime spot to experience the sculpture, installation, film, and drawing of Keith Sonnier. An extensive but not exhaustive survey, “Keith Sonnier: Until Today” at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill runs through January 27, 2019. Concurrently, the Dia Art Foundation’s Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton has restaged, through May 29, 2019, Sonnier’s seminal environmental work Dis-Play II, 1970, which was first exhibited in the artist’s debut solo exhibition that year at the Leo Castelli Warehouse. Simultaneously, Tripoli

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  • Diary

    Braving the Elements

    AROUND LUNCHTIME ON THE LAST THURSDAY IN JUNE, I found myself at a table on a terrace with an absurdly beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea. Behind me was the kind of low-slung corporate resort hotel that is typical of La Marsa, one of several suburban tourist towns east of the capital of Tunisia, Tunis. I scanned the horizon from left to right. A thin dark line separated the deep blue sky from a vast expanse of light sparkling turquoise. It was a ridiculous sight, a shimmering paradise, laughable in its right-there realness. I was distractedly sharing a meal with about a dozen people, flanked

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  • Diary

    Breathe In

    “STOP TALKING.”

    “Stop talking.”

    “Stop talking.”

    “No, really, stop talking.”

    Unusually for an auctioneer—albeit a very part-time one—White Columns director and chief curator Matthew Higgs isn’t one to raise his voice. And his English wit is sufficiently dry that American ears often have difficulty in distinguishing a genuine word from an ironic one. So it took him a few attempts to convince the crowd at the nonprofit institution’s recent benefit auction that his characteristically affectless request was meant to be taken seriously. Eventually, however, things settled down and bidding on

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  • Film

    Sorry Not Sorry

    THE TIME TO DO THE RIGHT THING is now or never. The urgency coursing through Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You makes it a perfect movie for the blazing summer of resistance. When Riley’s debut feature played at Sundance in January, it seemed like African American lysergic futurism. Six months later, even its most surreal moments are less prophetic than terrifyingly close to ordinary life in 2018—maybe with the exception of the human/horse gene-editing thing.

    What Riley brings to his first feature film is twenty-seven years of making music as the leader of the Oakland political hip-hop collective

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