COLUMNS

  • Performance

    Heart and Home

    TWO ONLINE PERFORMANCES earlier this summer—a reading of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town by the National Asian American Theater Company (NAATCO), and Xiomara Sebas Castro Niculescu’s A Domestic; Cut, presented by danilo machado and Claire Kim as part of Stream/line Artist Residency—conducted serious conversations with the deceased while wisely refusing the dueling lures of nostalgia and better tomorrows. On the surface, these two projects couldn’t be more different—one, wholesome, the other, salacious—but both demanded a strangely profound patience with time itself.

    No longer solely the province of

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  • Slant

    Ground Control

    I’M SITTING AT THE BOTTOM of a dry, deteriorating swimming pool in the Great Salt Lake Desert. Here, across northwestern Utah’s remote Tooele County, the bone-white, salt-crusted terrain appears endless. It’s so vast you can see the curvature of the Earth.

    The Donner-Reed Party trudged this eighty-mile waterless drive in 1846, following the spurious California Trail shortcut recommended by adventurer and future Confederate major Lansford Hastings. Their hubris and resultant cannibalism epitomize Manifest Destiny’s ravenous pathology. American audacity, not ingenuity, colonized the continent.

    During

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  • Passages

    Lauren Berlant (1957–2021)

    LAUREN SHOULDERED THE WORLD.

    All she ever wanted was company in that. 

    In the end, she said it was work that killed her. 

    Her truth, hard-won, was a searing empathy for all human fuck ups.

    She insisted on that with the bare ferocity of a seer. 

    She learned she had an inhabitable endurance. Fuck leiomyosarcoma. 

    She got realer and realer as a sentient mind, an infrastructure of imperatives and spinning potentials.

    She got wide open and ready for it.

    She was writing her “poison poems” with a new frankness honed to a point. “At the same time as my friends grow all emotions and abstractions, I sit in the

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  • Film

    Time Regained

    WRITTEN CIRCA 700 BC, the Greek poet Hesiod’s Works and Days is an 828-line poem that doubles as a sort of farmers’ almanac in which the author instructs his brother on the physical and moral imperatives of agrarian living. Less didactic but equally epic, C.W. Winter and Anders Edström’s The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin) takes up the title and major themes of Hesiod’s verse for its own comprehensive look at a vanishing way of life in a small mountain village of forty-seven people in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Running 480 minutes, the film is structured by the cadences

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  • Performance

    This Is Water

    OUR LANGUAGE for physically slow performance has been tainted by the residue of familiar associations. Sidecar words like “delicate” and “calm” attach themselves to descriptions of performances just because they’re filled with only a handful of events. Time, created by composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and Shiro Takatani, artist and founder of Dumb Type, moves slowly, yes, but it is inflamed, an emotional flaying at a snail’s pace, a psychic oven walled with black glass and set to a steady 200 degrees. For almost 70 minutes, Min Tanaka, a dancer trained in the improvisational Butoh style, moves in and

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  • Interviews

    Alan Ruiz

    Premier among the fabled artist-run institutions of the 1970s, the Kitchen stands today on New York’s West Nineteenth Street, its home since 1986, now hemmed in by blue-chip galleries, luxury boutiques, a starchitect office tower, and outrageous pieds-à-terre for the jet-setting elite. On a recent visit, Alan Ruiz’s elegant but spartan installation there—uncharacteristically sited in the building’s ground level theater space, rather than its second-floor gallery—suddenly erupted in sound and reflected light as a composition by Philip Glass, a veteran affiliate of the Kitchen who now serves on

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  • Diary

    Starry Nights

    SHE WANTED IT to be a lighthouse for the Mediterranean and an archipelago of activities. Maja Hoffmann, the Swiss pharmaceutical heiress and art patron, achieved as much with the Luma Foundation’s Parc des Ateliers in Arles, which after thirteen years of development and construction was unveiled to the public at the end of June. For many of us, this was the first major opening after lockdown, with nearly everybody fully vaccinated and ready to start the season in the south of France.

    I arrived the day before the press opening and headed first to “Laura Owens & Vincent van Gogh,” cocurated by Bice

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  • Music

    House of Mirrors

    IN THE FIRST OF TWO VIDEOS for her song “Transparent Soul,” Willow thrashes in a featureless white room flooded bluntly with light. The song’s lyrics are full of barbs launched at a disappointing “you,” but Willow is alone in this visual capsule. She sings into and kicks at the fish-eye lens set on the ground, then backs herself into a corner of the claustrophobic box, whose walls have suddenly sprouted security cameras. She aims one at the viewer, threatening us with a reciprocal gaze. 

    The low vantage and ultrawide-angle lens draw a clean line back to the ’90s, when director Hype Williams used

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  • Music

    Into the Groove

    These songs were the inspiration for my new album, Unbelievable Animals. I wanted to feel happy and energized, so I went back to music that I listened to as a kid, when the radio hits were somewhere between electronic and adult contemporary. Their sounds are groovy, space age, and clean, like the sixties via Y2K. A familiar chaos for our current moment.

    Madonna, “Candy Perfume Girl”

    The Chemical Brothers, “Hey Boy Hey Girl”

    Felix, “Tiger Stripes”

    Magda, “Naomi Campbell”

    New Order, “Bizarre Love Triangle”

    Towa Tei, Kylie Minogue, and Haruomi Hosono, “GBI (German Bold Italic)”

    Janet Jackson, “So Much

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  • Slant

    Looking After

    THIS APRIL, the University of Pennsylvania admitted to the public that human remains from the charred rubble of the devastating May 13, 1985, police bombing of the MOVE complex in West Philadelphia had been given to Alan Mann, an anthropologist on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania from 1969 to 2001. He was asked to provide forensic analysis of the bones; they are now believed to belong to either or both Tree and Delisha Africa, thirteen and twelve years old, respectively, at the time of their death. Mann took the bones with him when he moved to Princeton University, but they were

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  • Film

    Sound and Fury

    LEOS CARAX’S ANNETTE IS A MONSTER, a misery, an astoundingly raw movie/musical theater hybrid. It was the first film I saw in a screening room after fourteen months of pandemic isolation so circumstances may have played a part in my being so bouleversé. Also, I was sitting in the first row, the screen was very wide, and Carax doesn’t stint on close-ups. In any case, this is a film about a man who is fucking angry, and his anger went straight to my solar plexus, shaking me around for two hours. It also unleashed a torrent of associations, most of them cued by the director. In the end titles,

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  • Passages

    Frederic Rzewski (1938–2021)

    “MUSIC PROBABLY CANNOT CHANGE THE WORLD,” wrote composer Frederic Rzewski. “But it is a good idea to act as if it could.” Born to parents of Polish descent in Westfield, Massachusetts, he studied music in a series of elite institutions, from the Phillips Academy to Harvard and Princeton. Attending the Darmstadt Summer School in 1956, Rzewski was exposed to serial composition, as well as the more anarchic work of composer-performers John Cage, David Tudor, and Christian Wolff. Studying with Luigi Dallapicolla in Italy (1960–61) and Elliott Carter in Berlin (1963–65), he established an early

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