COLUMNS

  • Books

    Glitter In the Air

    Tabboo!, Tabboo! 1982–1988. New York: Gordon Robichaux/Karma Books, 2021. 140 pages.

    ONCE UPON A TIME in the early 1980s, New York City’s East Village was cheap and scary, a petrified forest of desiccated industry. Among the ruins, fantastic creatures built worlds of fantasy and devised strategies to survive. They made themselves at home. One of these creatures was Stephen Tashjian, who had come to New York with a gaggle of friends, each full of promise, after graduating from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Some were photographers: Mark Morrisroe, the prolific punk, and Jack Pierson,

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  • Slant

    A Dangerous Method

    I WONDER HOW people will think of psychoanalysis after they see the show “Louise Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter,” currently at the Jewish Museum in New York. Will it rise in their esteem, having fallen to the level of a silly, obsolete science, a worn-out, clichéd set of interpretations? Bourgeois’s relationship to psychoanalysis is rich, layered, and, importantly, long, as psychoanalysis is wont to be: beginning in 1951 with her treatment following her father’s death, lasting until 1985 with her psychoanalyst’s death. She calls it “a jip,” “a duty,” “a joke,” “a love affair,” “a bad dream,” “a

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  • Interviews

    Elise Rasmussen

    Elise Rasmussen’s “Year Without a Summer” took her to multiple continents and into the creation of one of Western literature’s best-known books—Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). The artist’s research-based project joins personal experience, cultural history, and scientific discovery into a surprising, layered narrative. Speaking from Los Angeles, Rasmussen shares how she weaves disparate artistic and ecological threads together with a perspective afforded by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Year Without a Summer” will be on view at Toronto’s G44 Centre for Contemporary Photography from July 21 to August

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  • Film

    High Stakes

    “I WAS A VERY STRANGE CHILD. Everything had to be very beautiful.” In a 1974 interview with Impressions Magazine, the multihyphenate maverick Bill Gunn traced his aesthetic sensibilities to his precocious early years. A quiet only child who grew up in Philadelphia mostly around adults and with parents who both had artistic backgrounds, Gunn was fascinated by storytelling and uninterested in still photography and sought a physiognomic proximity that the theater could not deliver. The cinema, a space of collective solitude and close-ups, was an ideal fit. He called it his babysitter.  

    Gunn, who

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  • Diary

    Island Cure

    UP TILL NOW, Menorca has kept a relaxed profile compared to its Balearic sisters: Majorca, which has long managed to be both aristocratic and touristy, and Ibiza, mecca of die-hard partygoers and a somehow dubious and certainly ostentatious jet-set syndicate. Menorca’s natural heritage remains intact (not a highway to be found), attracting a particular breed of enlightened cosmopolitans not often seen in re-afters (that truly great Ibizan contribution to contemporary culture). Think Hockney rather than Guetta or Beckham when someone nonchalantly mentions having just seen David.

    Hauser & Wirth

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  • Film

    Test Drives

    JUST AS, FOR MANY, the pandemic’s repercussions on the movie industry weren’t fully accepted as fact until the Cannes Film Festival canceled their 2020 edition, so too were international film events in physical space not considered a reality until director Thierry Frémaux announced the festival’s return earlier this year. And return it did, belatedly and somehow bigger than ever, with new dates (July instead of the customary May), a new section (Cannes Premiere), new health protocols (mandatory Covid tests every forty-eight hours for non-Europeans), and a handful of films (most notably Wes

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  • Interviews

    Julien Nguyen

    At the end of our conversation, Julien Nguyen read from a poem by the eighth-century Chinese poet Tu Fu that supplied the title for one of his new paintings: “In ten warrior years and more, how / could I avoid all honor? Everyone // treasures heroes, but how shameful / to talk myself up like all the others. // War smolders across our heartland / and rages on the frontiers: all those // lords chasing ambition everywhere, / who can elude resolute in privation?” It may seem grandiose to tie yourself to history this way—and it is—but this is exactly what makes Nguyen’s art contemporary. He achieves

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  • 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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