COLUMNS

  • Slant

    Black Hole

    CHARLES BURNS GETS OFF TO great starts, though his comic-book episodes don’t begin in media res so much as in the middle of nowhere. Take issue no. 6 of his ongoing series Black Hole (Fantagraphics Books): On the left page, a teeny square hit of acid sticks to a strip of Scotch tape on a pitch-black ground. On the right, a pudgy teenage girl in a bra and jeans, arms hanging like summer sausages, stands in her dorky bedroom (Siamese cat posters, Christmas-caroling-Hummel-figurine knockoffs, a framed yearbook portrait, a ceramic pencil mug) wearing a dumb smile, her shiny hair parted down the

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  • Interviews

    1000 WORDS: JEREMY DELLER

    Jeremy Deller is an artist who gets down with the people, wherever he happens to be. Based in Britain, where he has created artworks with coal miners (The Battle of Orgreave, 2001), marching bands (Acid Brass, 1997), and Manic Street Preachers fans (The Uses of Literacy, 1997), Defier spent much of the past year in residency at the CCAC Watt’s Institute in San Francisco. The result of his stay is an unlikely art project: an unorthodox (though usable) guidebook to the once Golden State. After the Gold Rush is a ninety-six-page collection of maps, history (penned by Matthew Coolidge of the Center

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  • Books

    Christopher S. Wood on Michael Fried

    ADOLPH MENZEL (1815–1905), an improbable, cross-grained character who might have walked out of one of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s eerie tales, lacked by his own admission the “glue” that binds us to the rest of humanity. Instead he stood just to one side of the world, holding a pad in one hand and pencil and stump in the other—whether left or right did not matter, for he was graphically ambidextrous. He drew constantly. At age seventeen Menzel began a course of study at the academy in Berlin, but soon abandoned it and taught himself to paint. Eventually, with his brilliant historical mirages of

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  • Interviews

    1000 WORDS: SANTIAGO SIERRA

    Although he started out as a more or less traditional sculptor in an arte povera vein, Santiago Sierra is today best known for paying others to perform his pieces (he has paid people to sit in cardboard boxes, get tattoos, even masturbate on camera). Over the past three years, I have worked with Sierra several times—in Berlin, Munich, and New York. On each occasion we started out with the intention of restaging or, better, recontextualizing his 2000 work Lifted Out Wall Leaning Over by 60 Degrees and Held Up by 5 People, but the particularities of each venue ended up producing altogether different

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  • Film

    Jacques Le Narcissiste

    WE CULTURE-ISTAS KNOW Derrida is the Madonna of thought. He’s antiphallogocentric and a total diva. Undeniably powerful, he’s either revered or deplored as the author of cultural relativism, rampant textuality, and undecidability. The notoriously close reader is still dashing at seventy-two, with a dark but surprisingly soft gaze, eagle-ish features, and a mildly poufy white coif: a silver fox. Spinning his web (yes, folks, that’s three animal metaphors!) of defamiliarization that readers find seductive or annoying, or both, his discourse is riddled with paradox: He fights to improvise “but

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  • Slant

    Mati Klarwein

    I FIRST ENCOUNTERED MATI KLARWEIN in 1970. Miles Davis had just released his revolutionary Bitches Brew, which featured Mati's painting on the sleeve. It was a perfect visual synthesis of Miles's magical amalgam of funk, rock, jazz, and psychedelia. Mati soon became a famous artist, quite outside the art-world path, for the lavishly detailed, cosmically erotic paintings that fronted albums by Santana, the Chambers Brothers, Earth, Wind & Fire, and others.

    I believe that at the time Mati was going by the name Abdul Mati Klarwein. He once said, “If all Jews would add an Arab name to theirs and all

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  • Books

    Richard Howard on Henri Michaux

    IN THE DECADE BETWEEN 1956 and 1966, Henri Michaux, who had been publishing verse, prose, and drawings since 1927, produced six little books concerning his experiences with mescaline and other, mostly psychedelic, drugs. Several of these volumes, including this first one, are “illustrated” by the author’s astonishing drawings, which frequently afford a more direct account than his discursive writing of the exploratory voyages Michaux inveterately undertook beginning in the late ’20s. These brief texts, often (as in the case of Miserable Miracle) written during the experiments with mescaline and

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  • Passages

    Andrew Solomon on Frank Moore

    THE WHOLE TIME I KNEW FRANK MOORE, he was dying; but this made his actual death, at the age of forty-eight, even more shocking than it would otherwise have been. Frank’s characteristic state of hovering transition seemed permanent: As clearly as I believed that Frank would never be well, I believed that he would never die. He came so close to dying so many times and always managed to pull back: Deathbeds were places he visited the way the rest of us visit sleep. Like Evel Knievel, he stayed alive against the odds, almost ostentatiously, as though he believed death could be defied through pure

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  • Interviews

    1000 WORDS: OLIVER PAYNE AND NICK RELPH

    Short-listed for this year’s Beck’s Futures award, British filmmaking duo Oliver Payne and Nick Relph put their prize money straight to work. The result is Mixtape, 2002, twenty minutes of “wild, trance-inducing loops” designed to infect viewers with humor and headaches alike. Structured around Terry Riley’s mesmerizing Motown cutup “You’re No Good,” the film weaves a set of tangentially related vignettes into footage of a teenage hardcore band’s spasmodic writhing. As the title suggests, it is an idiosyncratic compilation of perfect moments or, as Relph offers with a chuckle, “a really good

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  • Books

    The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné

    AT SOME MOMENT between 1959 and 1961, Andy Warhol underwent an artistic change deep enough to bear comparison to a religious conversion. Before then his work had the effete charm of designer valentines: plump cherubs, posies, pink and blue butterflies, pussy cats in confectionary colors, young men with ornamental cocks, and ladies’ footwear seemingly designed with fantasists in mind. His images after the change were vernacular, familiar, and anonymous, drawn from the back pages of blue-collar newspapers, the cover pages of sensationalist tabloids, pulp comics, fan magazines, junk mail, publicity

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