COLUMNS

  • Top Ten

    AMY TAUBIN’S BEST FILMS OF 2022

    Amy Taubin is a contributing editor for Artforum who lives, writes, and teaches in New York.

    1–3
    AGHDRA (Arthur Jafa), EO (Jerzy Skolimowski), and SEE YOU FRIDAY, ROBINSON (Mitra Farahani)

    A tie for first place among three works that testify to the poetic power of image-sound amalgams and to the fragility of all life. An Elias Canetti observation—often quoted by Jean-Luc Godard, including in Farahani’s collage of revelatory fragments they began in 2015, and Farahani finished in 2022—describes how you might react to any or all of them: “We are never sad enough for the world to become better.”

    4

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  • Top Ten

    ERIKA BALSOM’S BEST FILMS OF 2022

    Erika Balsom is a reader in film studies at King’s College London.

    1
    “ENFIN LE CINÉMA! ARTS, IMAGES, ET SPECTACLES EN FRANCE (1833–1907)(Musée d’Orsay, Paris; curated by Dominique Païni, Paul Perrin, and Marie Robert)
    This monumental exhibition examined the rise of the motion picture, not as a machine but as an eminently modern way of looking at the world. The erudition, creativity, and access to collections that informed it were astounding, even if more attention to the tangle of cinema and colonialism would have been welcome.
    Co-organized with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

    2
    MUTZENBACHER



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  • Top Ten

    SASHA GEFFEN’S BEST MUSIC OF 2022

    Sasha Geffen is a writer living in Denver and the author of the book Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary (University of Texas Press, 2020).

    1
    SHYGIRL, NYMPH (Because Music)

    Shygirl’s debut LP taps into the shades between her previous extremes. Her eros makes room for fear, humor, and failure; there’s more sex in what goes wrong, in what punctures and leaks, than there is in action glued to a script. The gouged, muddied vocals and sagging, detuned notes throughout Nymph play at libidinal obliteration: sex that mutates, sex that melts.

    2
    ALEX G, GOD SAVE THE ANIMALS (Domino)

    Each Alex

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  • Top Ten

    JACE CLAYTON’S BEST MUSIC OF 2022

    Jace Clayton is an artist and writer also known for his work as DJ/rupture.

    1
    REMA, “CALM DOWN” (Jonzing World)

    Flawless Nigerian pop optimized for global consumption, complete with love-song lyrics that double as an ode to degrowth.

    2
    SHYGIRL, NYMPH (Because Music)

    If love is timeless, then sex is now. Shygirl’s lyrics double down on the latter, bulwarked by forward-facing rap and R&B production.

    3
    LA MATERIA VERBAL: ANTOLOGÍADE LA POESÍA SONORA PERUANA(Verbal Matter: An Anthology of Peruvian Sound Poetry) (Buh)

    This exemplary comp pulls together a spectrum of Peruvian sound poetry, balancing the

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  • Top Ten

    PLANNINGTOROCK’S BEST MUSIC OF 2022

    Planningtorock (Jam Rostron) is a trans nonbinary music producer and artist known for chronicling themes of gender identity, queerness, and being trans in their music.

    1
    SUDAN ARCHIVES, “SELFISH SOUL” (Stones Throw)

    Brittney Parks is a musical genius, and this track is so incredible and powerful! Without a doubt my favorite song of 2022.

    2
    MEL 4EVER, “TREAT ME (LIKE A TOILET)” (CCP)

    Every single that Mel’s put out this year has been a banger, but this is my personal favorite.

    3
    ARIEL ZETINA, “SMOKE MACHINE” (FEAT. BORED LORD) (Local Action)

    So happy that I finally got to meet Ariel at the Whole

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  • Top Ten

    POLLY WATSON’S BEST MUSIC OF 2022

    Polly Watson is a musician, writer, and editor based in New York.

    1
    TAMIO SHIRAISHI (67th Avenue station, Queens, NY, March 26)

    The experimental saxophonist will occasionally issue last-minute announcements, via his Instagram, that he’s playing the vast columned mezzanine of the subway station near his home. I caught him on a chilly Saturday evening, firing discordant shrieks into the icy ether. A few girls in high suede boots hurried by giggling, covering their ears.

    2
    SUBVERSIVE RITE, THE END IS NEAR (Chaotic Uprising)

    Just a fucking wind tunnel of a cassette channeling early UK warp-speed crust

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  • Performance

    THE YEAR IN PERFORMANCE

    CAN AN ARTIST HIT THE JUGULAR while they’re reaching for the wallet at the same time? Only if the wallet and the jugular are the same thing. In the cultural devolution of “audience” to “eyeballs,” perhaps no genre has so loudly insisted on its robust resistance to power as comedy—and perhaps no genre’s complicity has, since 2017, been made more transparent. (Let the rise of Joe Rogan be citation enough here.) To borrow a one-liner from Morgan Bassichis’s brilliant solo performance Questions to Ask Beforehand (Bridget Donahue), “What stage of capitalism is it called when everyone’s a comedian?”

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  • Books

    AMY SILLMAN ON REBECCA SOLNIT'S ORWELL’S ROSES

    Flowers have been a hot topic the past few years: promiscuous symbols for everything from sex to death, mourning to deceit, love to cliché to decay. So Orwell’s Roses (Viking), Rebecca Solnit’s rhizomatic rumination on pleasure and politics mapped onto the figure of George Orwell and his rosebushes, was apropos. It turns out that Orwell, one of the great heroes of political critique made into art, was also a passionate and devoted lover of flowers and gardening. He saw the English as a nation of flower lovers and hobbyists (or as he put it, “stamp-collectors, pigeon-fanciers, amateur carpenters,

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  • Books

    COCO FUSCO ON MAGGIE NELSON’S ON FREEDOM: FOUR SONGS OF CARE AND CONSTRAINT

    Maggie Nelson’s On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint (Graywolf Press) is a marvelous mix of theory, politics, and personal exposé. She wrestles fearlessly with the pieties of our cultural moment. Above all, she latches on to the concept of freedom—used and abused by absolutists of every political persuasion—and delivers a well-reasoned analysis of its contextual conditions: freedom versus unfreedom, freedom from ethical responsibility, and freedom to explore the darkest recesses of the imagination in our art and our erotic lives. Nelson’s refreshing ability to probe her own lived

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  • Books

    ARACELIS GIRMAY ON MARWA HELAL’S ANTE BODY

    In the early months of the pandemic, at a memorial celebration of the great Kamau Brathwaite’s life, M. NourbeSe Philip reminded us of these drumsoundings, his words: “So much undone to be undone.” In this spirit, I make my notes toward poet Marwa Helal’s Ante body (Nightboat Books)so alive with plurals, so awake to a we-frequency—because it is part of a most vital and mystical practice of undoing. In her precision, she slits the grammars of empire, making language-openings that are brief refuges for her beloveds. On the pages marked “ante matter” are columns of text that read as simultaneities

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  • Books

    KAITLIN PHILLIPS ON HELEN DEWITT’S THE ENGLISH UNDERSTAND WOOL

    A profile of Helen DeWitt in New York magazine, which ran with a photo of her wielding a chain saw, said that, in the course of three days of interviews, “she used the word morons a lot.” Like her characters, DeWitt has an air of casual incivility that she says isn’t her fault. That she’s surrounded by idiots is more or less the plot. (From a short story on the sexual mores of Europeans: “Contact with grossly inferior minds leaves a smear of stupidity across brilliance.”) I’m not sure there is anyone writing now in English better at parceling out blame—namely, for preventing high-strung,

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  • Books

    ANNIE-B PARSON ON SHEILA HETI’S PURE COLOUR

    In Pure Colour (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Sheila Heti stages a human encounter inside a leaf. Paradoxically, this novel is a work of pure realism. It opens in a biblical mood, declaring a simple system to sort all human essences into three types: bird, fish, or bear. And as in the Bible, Heti describes multiple planes of existence with uncanny authority. We are introduced to Mira, a bird type, whose beloved father, a bear type, has recently died. Mira—her voice pure, childlike, uncensored—uses the verb ejaculate countless times to describe the sensation of her father’s body entering her body

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