COLUMNS

  • Interviews

    Invisible Ink

    AT THE AGE OF SEVENTEEN, James “Yaya” Hough was sentenced to life without parole in Pennsylvania, a state responsible for sentencing more Black youth to life than almost any other. Told that he would never be released from prison, he turned that death sentence into a rigorous reading and art practice, spending hours a day with his sketchbooks drawing, painting watercolors, and working on communal murals inside the facility. He describes his daily routine as taking on a spiritual character, a “discipline,” but not in any punitive sense. He was known and admired inside prison for his pen drawings

    Read more
  • Passages

    William T. Wiley (1937–2021)

    LOVING WHATEVER IT IS that you clutch to your chest and call “art” means taking some care of the culture around that word and its objects. It’s a positive gesture to some kind of eternity. It means you love the making of things, and you do not fear those things, nor fear or resent the artist who makes the things you don’t understand. You care for the artist who passively refuses to take part in whatever culture he deems damaging to his mind or spiritual well-being. These are the ways I want to love and the ways I believe in William T. Wiley, who died on April 25. I first met Bill Wiley in early

    Read more
  • Diary

    Computer Love

    ON A WEDNESDAY NIGHT, during Berlin Gallery Weekend’s mostly digitized preview days, Hannes Schmidt of Schiefe Zähne and I were about thirtieth in the queue for chili cheese fries, which we were to bring back to the gallery where Richard Sides was putting finishing touches on “The Matrix,” an exhibition he made about being immersed in a technological world of uncertain boundaries. The show includes a crude cardboard homage to Spot, a robot dog offered by Boston Dynamics to the tune of $75,000. Killing time during the long wait for provisions—facing a 10 p.m. curfew, most of the nearby restaurants

    Read more
  • Music

    For The In Between Days

    The first half of this year has felt quieter and more pensive, and perhaps a bit lonelier, than last year. Music has been keeping me company in a meaningful way. Here are some pieces I’ve felt myself gravitating toward as I let my mind go into that particular emotional space. I’m also working on a couple of larger recording projects that I’m really excited about—I’m feeding all of these influences into that state of being.

    Stevie Wonder, “Golden Lady”

    Yoko Ono, “Even When You’re Far Away”

    Catherine Christer Hennix, Mode nouvelles des modalités II

    Robbie Basho, “Cathedrals et fleur de lis

    Robert

    Read more
  • Interviews

    Godzilla 10

    In 1990, Godzilla: Asian American Art Network formed to stimulate visibility and critical discourse for Asian American artists, curators, and writers who were negotiating a historically exclusionary art world and society. Founded by Ken Chu, Bing Lee, and Margo Machida, Godzilla produced exhibitions, publications, and community collaborations that sought social change through art and advocacy. Expanding into a nationwide network, the group confronted institutional racism, Western imperialism, anti-Asian violence, the AIDS crisis, and Asian sexuality and gender representation, among other issues.

    Read more
  • Diary

    Lightning Strikes

    I COUNT EIGHT NYPD SQUAD CARS in front of the Time Warner Center and another van by the Trump Hotel. It's April 30, and two concentric circles of metal barricades lashed together with zip ties—erected during last summer’s rebellion and removed this past March—are back, surrounding the Columbus Monument. I’m half an hour early and the sky looks ready to open up into what my phone assures me will be a brief, light squall. I huddle outside a temporarily shuttered Maison Keyser to keep dry and skim the Strike MoMA Framework and Terms for Struggle, on the lookout for others attending the group’s

    Read more
  • Passages

    JAMES BISHOP (1927–2021)

    IT MAY BE THE NEAREST THING to a monochrome James Bishop ever made. Closed, 1974, is just slightly smaller—by a few inches—than the six-and-a-half-foot square format the painter adopted as his standard from the mid-1960s through the early ’80s. And like much of the work from that period, it situates him within a broadly “reductivist” tendency in postwar American art, running roughly from the less-gestural iterations of Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting through Minimalism. One notes in particular Bishop’s self-professed inclination for the square as the most “neutral” form; his

    Read more
  • Film

    NO REGRETS

    PART MEMOIR, part madly collaged Francophile valentine, Ulrike Ottinger’s Paris Calligrammes recounts the seven formative years (1962–69) the artist spent in the City of Lights while cannily laying claim to her place in history.

    The Ottinger oeuvre is a combination of epic documentaries, fantastic voyages, and ethnographic inquiries. Paris Calligrammes, which premiered in March 2020 at the Berlin International Film Festival and opened at New York’s Film Forum this past April 23, encompasses them all. Invoking the French poet-explorer Victor Segalen, Ottinger presents her pilgrimage from the

    Read more
  • Slant

    TOKEN GESTURE

    ON THE AFTERNOON of February 19—immediately after the classic internet meme known as Nyan Cat was auctioned for almost $600,000—digital art abruptly entered the most recent, and perhaps most heated, of its many hype cycles. In the weeks that followed, media outlets from PBS NewsHour to Saturday Night Live reiterated the story of record-breaking prices fueled by an enigmatic technology called the blockchain, which is a system used by techno-libertarians and anarcho-capitalists for encrypting immutable digital records in blocks of data across a decentralized chain of computers. Blockchains can be

    Read more
  • Music

    Forever Changes

    AROOJ AFTAB’S WORK TRANSFORMS the nearly millennium-old tradition of Hindustani classical music from which it emerges, a form whose tenets of improvisation, repetition, and rasa, or emotion, have inspired American composers such as John Cage, La Monte Young, and Terry Riley. Aftab responds to their musical borrowing by restituting what these white men excised from their arrangements—the feminine voice—and treating it as yet another instrument in her bright, layered compositions. The pentatonic melodies and mixed genres of the Black avant-garde vocalist and composer Julius Eastman’s shimmering 

    Read more
  • Slant

    Dry Goods

    ON OUR LONG DRIVE through the desert of the Coachella Valley chasing the artworks and installations of Desert X 2021, my fifteen-year-old daughter and I drove past the El Dorado Estates. Scrubby bushes in the pale-brown soil stretched back into the vast and vacant desert behind a cinderblock wall advertising the never-realized development named after the elusive, imaginary city of gold. In the hundred miles we spent crisscrossing the desert, we passed through the shimmering black cells of solar farms and clusters of rusty corrugated shacks, past plastic-surgery centers and boarded-up resorts

    Read more