COLUMNS

  • Music

    Downtown 81

    DOWNTOWN 81, A “LOST” NO-BUDGET FILM shot on location in Manhattan some nineteen years ago, finally had its debut last month, at Cannes. Directed by Edo Bertoglio and written by Glenn O’Brien, this lighthearted document of the East Village scene stars a twenty-year-old Jean-Michel Basquiat as himself, with countless hipster cameos, including hip-hop pioneer Fab Five Freddie, ’80s Fiorucci designer (and the film’s producer) Maripol, record-label guy Marty Thau, and Blondie chanteuse Debbie Harry as the fairy princess.

    But the real star of the film is the gritty milieu of a New York long gone. A

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  • Music

    Fischerspooner

    You may not actually have known any of the songs, but with their pleasingly familiar New Romantic techno-pop beat, you felt like you should. In any case, by the time you filed out of Gavin Brown’s Fifteenth Street gallery—filled to capacity for every performance of Fischerspooner’s five-night run—you were more than ready to shell out twenty bucks for the CD. And weeks later, it has become your sound track. Every time “Fucker” or “Invisible” comes on you’re back in the strobe-lit, sweaty heaven of Fischerspooner’s synching and dancing extravaganza.

    Transformed by black fabric and a series of

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  • Interviews

    1000 WORDS: KERRY JAMES MARSHALL

    Kerry James Marshall is best known for large-scale paintings, but Rythm Mastr is a project of a different sort. A site-specific installation of comics realized for the 1999 Carnegie International, Rythm Mastr also encompassed an eight-part comic-strip that ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and new installments are to be published by the artist in serial form.

    The setup: In a gunfight with gangbangers, Stasha and her boyfriend, Farell, are separated. Stasha is shot; plotting revenge, she applies her growing knowledge of computers and robotics to create remote-control cars for use in retaliatory

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  • Interviews

    1000 WORDS: DOUG AITKEN

    “A lot of times I dance so fast that I become what’s around me.” So says the lone protagonist of Electric Earth, 1999, Doug Aitken’s hyperkinetic fable of modem life in the form of a sprawling eight-screen installation that took home the International Prize at last summer’s Venice Biennale. An uncanny cross-pollination of genre conventions sampled freely from music video, documentary, and narrative film alike, the work forged a weirdly precise portrait of urban angst, wedding installation to the vernacular vocabularies of cinema and dance. In Electric Earth as in Aitken’s previous works, the

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  • Slant

    the Austrian Boycott Debate

    THE VIENNA SECESSION has put its distinctive facade—one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the city—at the disposal of artists like Franz West and Renée Green for work critical of the new Austrian government, a coalition formed by the conservative People’s Party (known by its German initials ÖVP)—the hitherto dominant Social Democrats’ long-time partner in the Austrian government—and the openly racist, far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ). Encouraged in part by the harsh international reaction to this dismaying coalition, almost every noteworthy Austrian intellectual, artist, filmmaker,

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  • Books

    The Arcades Project

    So it was for this that Walter Benjamin summoned voices to blend and to contend with his, and with each other’s, ones that he found to flow along his dreams (e.g., p. 467)—his and (he claims, as a philosopher must) ours (e.g., pp. 212, 391)—from which the work of this work is variously to join in awakening us (e.g., pp. 388, 458), rescuing (e.g., pp. 473, 476) or say redeeming (e.g., pp. 332, 462) the phenomena of our world, processes that require blasting phenomena from their historical successions (p. 475), suggesting thought as a volcano (p. 698), forming new constellations (e.g., p. 463),

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  • Music

    Charlemagne Palestine

    HUGE POOLS OF SOUNDS coming from one undifferentiated tone: This is the dizzying, precision work of Charlemagne Palestine and a Dutch organ, stretched out for seventy-one minutes. The single note sounded gives rise to more notes, a sustained single chord, that in turn establish their own spatial existence, even some aural architectures. Perpetual performance. By consumer-culture standards the thing is unlistenable, yet at the same time it is ready to teach you some kind of deep listening. Only, it won’t teach anything. It just does what it does, and those who listen become involved in the acoustic

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  • Music

    Lunapark 0.10

    Lunapark 0.10, released as part of the “Aural Documents” series by the Belgian label Sub Rosa, is more like a séance than a CD. Compiled by Marc Dachy, this spoken-word anthology begins with the ghostly voice of Apollinaire declaiming his poem “Le Pont Mirabeau” in 1912 and ends with Caetano Veloso performing the Brazilian poet de Campos’s work in the late ’70s. In between, Dachy includes scraps of recordings by Mayakovsky, Joyce, Artaud, Duchamp, Stein, and others, piecing together a personal survey of twentieth-century sound art. To those for whom the historical avant-garde constitutes a living

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  • Interviews

    1000 WORDS: JUSTINE KURLAND

    History Painting 101—revised. Moments serene enough to be from a Claude Lorrain, staged beneath a freeway overpass or on the banks of a toxic swamp. Pastoral bathers wear concert-tour T-shirts; highway angels with dirty fingernails shoplift Oreos; Pre-Raphaelite nymphs capture hapless boys who’ve happened on the wrong glade. Each of Justine Kurland’s photographs is a vignette from an ongoing narrative. Inspired by autobiography no less than by fairy tales, movies, Afterschool Specials, even painting in the Grand Manner, Justine’s World is an idyll where fact melts into fiction, where every girl

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  • Passages

    Paul Cadmus

    MERCILESS CARICATURIST, gruesome fantasist, homoerotic moralist, and above all maker of wonderfully crafted drawings and paintings: Paul Cadmus worked in many modes throughout his life and created so many surprising and often disturbing varieties of art that even those most passionate about his work are seldom unequivocal in their assessments. About Cadmus him-self, however, all agree: This enormously talented artist was also the kindest, gentlest, most self-deprecating of men.

    A scholarship student at the National Academy of Design, Cadmus became a printmaker, following in the steps of the Ashcan

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