COLUMNS

  • Film

    Lars von Trier’s Dogville

    THE DOGME 95 “Vow of Chastity” notwithstanding, purity isn’t high on Lars von Trier’s agenda. Dogme’s refusal of certain resources and techniques is aimed less at establishing a “pure” filmic practice than at stimulating greater awareness and more conscious use of conventions. Strict rules can be liberating rather than oppressive, so long as they haven’t hardened into multiplex clichés. Although his new feature, Dogville, isn’t a Dogme film, von Trier has nevertheless imposed strict constraints on himself, shooting entirely on a soundstage. The set consists mainly of outlines and blueprints

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  • Passages

    Edward Said

    When you think about it, when you think about Jew and Palestinian not separately, but as part of a symphony, there is something magnificently imposing about it. A very rich, also very tragic, also in many ways desperate history of extremes . . . that is yet to receive its due.

    —Edward W. Said1

    THE UNTIMELINESS of Edward Said’s death was persistently mentioned in the press and poignantly remarked upon, again and again, by his friends. By the time he passed away in the early hours of September 25, Edward Said had survived a decade of disease, his leukemia always lying in wait for him, drenching

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  • Books

    Robert Rauschenberg

    BEYOND THEIR FOCUS on the same artist, two new books on Robert Rauschenberg would seem to have almost nothing in common. Robert S. Mattison’s Robert Rauschenberg: Breaking Boundaries positions the artist’s life, intentions, and studio practice as the keys to understanding his work. Its highly accessible text and generous color illustrations suggest the book’s suitability for coffee-table display. Branden W. Joseph’s Random Order: Robert Rauschenberg and the Neo-Avant-Garde sets the artist’s early work within a dense context of Bergsonian philosophy, poststructuralist thought, and recent

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  • Film

    Leni Riefenstahl

    NOW THAT SHE IS authentically dead—at 101, felled by a curse from the ghost of Ernst Jünger, who lived two years longer—Leni Riefenstahl has joined the shades she often conjured during a career of ardor, mystification, and, perhaps, subliminal expiation.

    What good would it do to apologize? she asks in the 1993 Roy Müller documentary The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl. Apologies don’t turn the clock back or raise the dead from dust. The sensible tactic, in the face of speeding time and mass amnesia, is to move on and hope that everybody forgets about it. But Leni knew they never

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  • Slant

    Lost in Translation and Kill Bill

    AT FIRST GLANCE, Sofia Coppola’s melancholy love story Lost in Translation and Quentin Tarantino’s brazen splatterfest Kill Bill: Vol. 1 don’t seem to have much in common beyond their similarly lavish Oscar campaigns. But then a peculiar set of coincidences begins to emerge. Both are set in a dreamlike, poppalette Tokyo, the action in both pivots on the marital troubles of a female protagonist, and the films each sport a key scene in which the heroine rides along a hospital corridor in a wheelchair. Even some of the finer points are identical, like both films’ featuring a minor Japanese character

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  • Performance

    Bob Nickas on Leigh Bowery

    “IT WAS A BIT LIKE GOING to the zoo and watching Guy the Gorilla in drag.” That’s how Cerith Wyn Evans recalls Leigh Bowery’s weeklong London performance at Anthony d’Offay Gallery in 1988. Bowery, each day in a different costume of his own design, appeared behind a one-way mirror, with an Empire divan on which to perch, pose, or recline. Visitors saw him, but he saw only himself, performed for his own reflection. Footage of the event figures prominently in The Legend of Leigh Bowery (2002), Charles Atlas’s recently unveiled documentary, and the spooky, otherworldly spell that Bowery casts is

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  • Architecture

    green design

    IF HISTORICAL ANALOGIES offer any guidance, green design will emerge as the modernism of the new century. There is more than a passing similarity between recent eclecticism in architecture and the stylistic free-for-all that characterized the early twentieth century, which saw a succession of neohistorical and decorative styles come and go rather quickly. Neo-Gothic, neo-Tudor, Beaux-Arts classicism, Art Nouveau: All had their brief moment before modernism crystallized (at least in the minds of the architectural establishment) as an “appropriate” aesthetic. It is now fashionable to talk about

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  • Interviews

    1000 WORDS: MARC CAMILLE CHAIMOWICZ

    After moving from his native Paris as a boy, Marc Camille Chaimowicz spent the remainder of his youth in the somewhat less exciting surroundings of English new-town suburbia, before going on to art school. His family’s move, coming as it did in the aftermath of World War II, was felt as a bizarre wrench that continues to inform his work. He now divides his time between London and Dijon. With a deep interest in France’s modernist literary legacy yet equally alive to subtle shifts in the terrain of contemporary pop culture, Chaimowicz has, since the early ’70s, defied straightforward categorization

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  • Passages

    Mario Merz

    IF I CLOSE MY EYES, I can still envision my first encounter with Mario Merz in 1966 at his studio in Turin, which marked the beginning of my long friendship and collaboration with him as a fellow nomad and adventurer, a journey unbroken until his death on November 9, 2003. In the series of rooms where he worked, the artist’s triangular structures projected out from the walls and floors. Made of fabric and woven bamboo, they brought to mind the shaped canvases being produced at the time by Frank Stella and others and were splashed with red paint (as well as scorched with burn holes), evoking the

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  • Books

    Shooting Kennedy

    IN LATE 1960, a young artist named James Rosenquist juxtaposed a head shot lifted from a campaign poster with shards from glossy magazine ads for a packaged cake mix and a 1949 Chevy. Equating voters with consumers, Rosenquist called his painting President Elect. Thus, John F. Kennedy entered the White House already an object of marketable fantasy, America’s new First Trademark and icon-in-chief.

    Art historian David M. Lubin’s Shooting Kennedy vastly elaborates the Rosenquist technique, allowing JFK—and consort Jacqueline—to hobnob with a promiscuous assortment of fellow images. Lubin locates

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  • Film

    Gary Indiana on The Fog of War

    I WILL BEGIN BY ADMITTING that I fell asleep five times during a morning press screening of Errol Morris’s The Fog of War—which received its US premiere at the New York Film Festival last September and is currently playing in theaters around the country—and I left the auditorium with precious few impressions besides that of the spectacularly bad dental work that Robert S. McNamara, the former secretary of defense, exposed each time he was featured in close-up. Having now viewed the documentary three additional times, while fully awake, what ultimately seems most impressive about Morris’s skewed

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