COLUMNS

  • Interviews

    Tony Cokes

    “Capitalism is profoundly illiterate,” observed Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus. Since the mid-1980s, Tony Cokes has been composing multimedia installations that collage pop music, archival film footage, and critical theory. While demanding close reading from viewers, his work also suggests the stakes, and even hazards, of legibility. For one of two commissions in his survey at Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) at the University of London, Cokes quotes from filmmaker and scholar Kodwo Eshun’s 2018 Mark Fisher Memorial Lecture, which took place at the school around a year after

    Read more
  • Film

    Bleeding Edge

    THE TITLE 48 WAR MOVIES seems straightforward, and so is one’s immediate impression of Christian Marclay’s single-channel video installation, which debuted at the Venice Biennale and is currently at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York. The piece is kinetic, cacophonous, and in-your-face. But it’s what you don’t see that gets you thinking. Marclay digitally layered forty-eight feature-length war films, each slightly larger than the one that almost conceals it, so that only the four outer edges of each film’s frame are visible. The movie in the center is the exception. We can watch it entirely,

    Read more
  • Diary

    Desperately Seeking Sublimation

    I CAME TOO EARLY.

    Sex, like going out, carries the risk of the anticipation being a more visceral experience than consummation. Art is supposed to save us from this sad gambit, but when you mix all three—as at the opening of the Pornhub-sponsored exhibition “The Pleasure Principle” at Maccarone in Boyle Heights—you may end up sitting in your car for twenty minutes, wearing a strapless top that smooshes your boobs, waiting for the place to fill up, trying to feel the vibe.

    I had a sexting appointment with Karen Finley, one of the original NEA Four, as part of her Sext Me If You Can performance,

    Read more
  • Diary

    Coup de Graz

    “STYRIAN AUTUMN SOUNDS LIKE BEER TENTS AND NATIONALISM,” a bike messenger said to me upon my return to Vienna from Graz, where I attended the Fifty-Second Steirischer Herbst, Europe’s oldest contemporary art festival. “It’s precisely the opposite,” I retorted. “Think cool graphic design and radical leftist politics—you can add quotes around ‘radical,’ depending on your temperament.” But is this time-honored event actually so incongruent with its rustic surroundings, the undeniably progressive typeface aside? Graz is a place where everything, including Ekaterina Degot’s program, walks the line

    Read more
  • Passages

    Francisco Toledo (1940–2019)

    WE FELT IT IMMEDIATELY: the profound sense of orphanhood following the news of Francisco Toledo’s death. One of Mexico’s greatest artists, Toledo took up his mother’s last name and his parents’ Zapotec culture from the Oaxacan isthmus of Juchitán, on the country’s southernmost edge. After spending his youth in 1960s Paris, where he befriended Rufino Tamayo and Stanley William Hayter, Toledo went on to make a body of work that infused indigenous Zapotec traditions with Western mythology, eroticism, and avant-garde aesthetics. His practice drew from a hybrid of fluid references, not only in the

    Read more
  • Diary

    Blurred Lines

    WHERE IS THE LINE between ideas and feelings? I dwelled on this blur when I arrived in Bogotá—an eleven-hour hop from London—to plunge straight into ARTBO 2019, the city’s fifteenth international art fair. The short-circuiting effects of jet lag, plus Bogotá’s infamous soroche, left me drifting between the booths, yet I quickly found this porousness mirrored in the fair itself, which showcased contemporary art from across South America. Certain themes began to emerge across the Corferias convention center: border crossings, loopholes in consensual reality (both political and bodily), counter-narratives

    Read more
  • Interviews

    Hamja Ahsan

    Last month, journalist Ciara O’Connor took to social media to point out the disparity between the language of “agency” and “accountability” used in Tate Modern’s exhibition “Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life” and the show itself, which was partially blocked to her as a wheelchair user. O’Connor’s account highlights how the art world’s advocacy for intersectionality rarely expands beyond social, sexual, or political ties to cover physical or neurological forms of difference as well. While the “eccentric genius” trope persists, today’s artists are expected to deliver service with a smile as they

    Read more
  • Music

    Standard Deviation

    HOW WOULD YOU SING, if you wanted to sing? Would you want to sound alluring, get the kids to swooning? Patty Waters, at the age of seventy-three, has her own answers to these questions, and few of them are immediately apparent. Dubbed “Priestess of the Avant-Garde” by JazzTimes, Waters grew up in Iowa, then moved, while in her teens, to San Francisco and eventually to New York, all to pursue her singing career. She now lives in California, as she has for decades.

    Waters is best known for two albums released on ESP-Disk in 1966—Sings, a studio album, and College Tour, a compilation of live

    Read more
  • Diary

    Wings of Desire

    “THE LIGHT FROM THIS SCULPTURE IS PERFECT FOR SELFIES,” crooned Nicolas Endlicher, a DJ and cofounder of Herrensauna, a monthly queer techno party (its name translates to “male sauna”) at Tresor. It was the opening night of Berlin Art Week. We were at Julia Stoschek Collection, where WangShui debuted video installations intended to activate the “hallucinatory spaces” of transitional architectures. Around the corner at FRAGILE, I swapped notes with artist Dr. Lakra and dealer Ida Yang about the corporeal afterimage of techno—that midweek sensation of muscles still pulsing to the weekend’s BPM—as

    Read more
  • Performance

    Dancing in the Dark

    “GOD TOOK NO PLEASURE IN HER.” A nod or some form of unbidden recognition ran through me. She was made to die, or allowed to die; in either case, she refused her fate, punching through wet earth from grave toward unaccommodating sky. Obstinate, the hand could be mastered only by the one who had borne it; the mother was swift and unhesitating with the rod—and so the buried girl stopped moving for good. 

    This story, The Willful Child, by the Brothers Grimm, haunts Ligia Lewis’s Water Will (in Melody), 2018. Water Will is the third in a trilogy of stage works, each of which wrestles with one color

    Read more
  • Slant

    Managed Mayhem

    THIS SUMMER, New York was introduced to one of the most renowned avant-garde works of the Argentine ’60s: La Menesunda. The New Museum’s exhibition “Menesunda Reloaded” reconstructed all the outlandish elements of this labyrinthine circuit, from its confetti blitzes and spinning cage to its incandescent tunnel of neon lights. Originally created in 1965 by Marta Minujín and Rubén Santantonín, the environment marked a watershed moment in Argentine art; its kitsch aesthetic, technological components, and participatory nature shattered notions of art established by local art academies and recent

    Read more
  • Interviews

    Joseph Keckler

    In constant motion between the art and opera worlds by way of popular culture, Joseph Keckler is best known for his vocal shape-shifting and his “faux arias,” which recount daily experiences with great verve. Earlier this year, he performed his Train With No Midnight at the Prototype Festival in New York. In October, he’ll offer a concert series at the Soho Theatre in London. He is also at work on a TV special to be aired at the end of this year. Here he speaks about his first ensemble piece, Let Me Die, which will premiere at FringeArts and Opera Philadelphia on September 21, 2019.

    I USED TO

    Read more