COLUMNS

  • Books

    Charlie Fox

    “What manner of man is this?” Jonathan Harker wonders when he sees Dracula creeping down his castle’s ramparts in the moonlight. Asking this question of the writer and illustrator who transformed precocious little oddballs into goths long before Jack Skellington or Marilyn Manson descended on suburbia, Mark Dery pens an eerie portrait of the artist, Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey (Little, Brown and Company), in which answers only conjure extra lashings of ambiguity—a very Gorey trick.

    Was homosexuality the antic bat in Gorey’s belfry? “Everything

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  • Books

    Omar Kholeif

    I have always been obsessed with the concepts around, and notions of, time. This is because time makes me anxious. In our current age of relentless speed, technology and its platforms are faster than we can keep up with, and more efficient than ever, and yet time is ever seeping through our hands. A real sufferer of FOMO, I am always left wanting more. Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time (Riverhead) is a small but profound book that I have repeatedly returned to over the past few months, and it continues to impact my thinking. Rovelli deconstructs the “crumbling of time,” as he describes it, and

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  • Books

    Vaginal Davis

    Where is my movie camera? . . . I CAN’T SEE WITHOUT IT.

    Barbara Rubin

    I wish I had known about Barbara Rubin back in the day in Hollywood, when I was making my queer zine Fertile LaToyah Jackson, because she was like me: a precocious weenager who didn’t take any excrement from anyone, least of all men. She was not only bold, beautiful, and voracious, she was a total badass. She was a Lilith, a Sheila, a Cybele demanding gonads to make a necklace of testicles. In Rubin’s case, among those she kept in check was Film Culture editor in chief Jonas “Uncle Fishhook” Mekas, as well as Andy Warhol,

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  • Books

    Gayle Salamon

    In this memoir about love, stepparenthood, loss, grief, sex, friendship, and music, Peter Coviello explores how we create worlds with others and how we lose them, making vivid the vertiginous feeling of falling out of one’s own life. He captures with descriptive precision the kinds of love for which there are no proper descriptors. Long Players: A Love Story in Eighteen Songs (Penguin) is a story about being decimated by a lover’s betrayal that simultaneously unpeels that story. He leans with equal rapture into subjects as disparate as the National and Charles Dickens, about whom Coviello writes:

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  • Books

    Simone White

    Inside the chaos of late September, when “we” received the sneering physiognomy of Brett Kavanaugh into “our” homes with varying degrees of grief and cynicism, I became even more sure that Lost Empress by Sergio de la Pava (Pantheon) (a public defender by day who became a literary legend before you could buy his work) was the best book I read this year. Here converge a superrich and unlikable woman-football-baron and her factotum-slash-mentee (both booty-trance-inducing Brown grads) between whom Joni Mitchell’s music stands in for actual tenderness; a criminal genius who may or may not lose his

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  • Interviews

    Dayanita Singh

    The Delhi-born photographer Dayanita Singh published her first book, Zakir Hussain, in 1986. The eleven books that followed, including Museum Bhavan (2017), document and form the bedrock for Singh’s observational and omnivorous photography. Interested in the photobook’s relationship to other objects and infrastructures, Singh has increasingly drafted custom objects—from bespoke cabinets, cases, and desks to bookshelves and beds—to serve as mechanisms of display and logical extensions of her project. Her work is currently featured in the Fifty-Seventh Carnegie International at the

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  • Books

    Gone Guy

    Chalk: The Art and Erasure of Cy Twombly by Joshua Rivkin. Melville House, 2018. 478 pages.

    SINCE HIS DEATH IN 2011, there have been whispers of a Cy Twombly biography. A book that might, finally, through impeccable research—a thorough examination of the artist’s life and times, not to mention the literary, historical, and artistic references endowing his oeuvre with a dense texturality—shed light on the enigma of Twombly, slashing through the cliché portrayals of a Jamesian aristocrat abroad to reveal the fertile creative psyche of the man who broke all the rules, who overwrote all

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  • Film

    Home Truths

    I KNOW MONEY IS TIGHT, and given your $10.99 monthly Netflix bill, why should you pay for a movie theater ticket to see Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, a movie shot digitally that isn’t even in color, when you’ll be able to stream it anytime you like, beginning December 14? Trust me, if it’s at all possible, get to a theater. Financed independently and then sold to Netflix, Roma plays for three weeks in art cinemas worldwide before it begins its streaming life. Well, half-life. Some of you may know this writer as the fanatic who insists that Warhol’s 16-mm celluloid movies become “nothing at all”—thanks,

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  • Interviews

    Lawrence Abu Hamdan

    As many as thirteen thousand people have been executed at the Saydnaya Military Prison in Syria since 2011, a number that remains an estimate as the site is inaccessible to independent monitors. The prisoners are mostly kept in the dark or blindfolded and thus develop a sharp awareness of sounds. Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s current exhibition in London details the experiences of former Saydnaya detainees through an extensive sound library and a listening room, with an audio essay charting the subtle transformations of their voices within Saydnaya following the 2011 uprising in Syria. “Earwitness

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  • Diary

    Happy Birthday, Zayed!

    THE SAME DAY Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan aggressively implicated the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his royal highness was busy headlining the second annual Future Investment Initiative—dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” for its congregation of mega-executives and heads of state—at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton. Despite cautious last-minute cancellations from many, the prince appeared ebullient and pithily announced the success of the conference: “More people, more money.”

    The inverse—“more money, more people”—is

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  • Diary

    Rush Hour

    FOR THE NINTH EDITION of the annual LagosPhoto Festival, “Time Has Gone,” twenty-three artists hailing from Myanmar to Madagascar displayed their works across ten venues in Nigeria’s commercial capital. The four curators—Eva Barois De Caevel, Charlotte Langhorst, Wunika Mukan, and Valentine Umansky—invited participants to take up the idea of nostalgia, reinterpret the past, investigate archival practices, and, essentially, try to slow down time: an impossible twist on the festival’s themes. To my mind, the show primarily offered one thing: uncertainty.

    It all started out promisingly

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  • Interviews

    Hank Willis Thomas

    Why do we believe the stories we’re told? The artist Hank Willis Thomas recasts pop culture iconography to foreground the ways that representation dissembles. His recently published monograph, All Things Being Equal... (Aperture, 2018), is a comprehensive survey of his photographic approaches. The book is also a prelude to his first solo museum show, which debuts in October 2019 at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon.

    I’D BEEN TALKING WITH APERTURE about doing another book since 2008, after publishing my first monograph, Pitch Blackness. Over the past couple of years the conversation

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