COLUMNS

  • Interviews

    Marwa Abdul-Rahman

    The six sculptures that comprise Marwa Abdul-Rahman’s “Eternal Return,” on view at Wilding Cran Gallery in Los Angeles through July 27, are at once grotesque and helpless. Bursting with resin, zippers, and buttons, they look like alien monsters suspended by rebar and twine. While she was trained as a painter, Abdul-Rahman’s work has become increasingly sculptural during the last half decade. Constructing these sculptures, she began to question the nature of boundaries, freedom, and form as they are known politically, existentially, and aesthetically. Her objects are allegories with inner lives.

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  • Passages

    Lutz Bacher (1943–2019)

    WHEN LUTZ DIED THE WORLD SHRANK. In those ethereal days immediately following her stark exit, magic was the word I heard most to describe her effect. A magical phenomenon requires an effortless delivery, the mysterious sleight of hand where one is made incapable of conjuring the method of transmutation. Magic happens before our eyes, but points to a hidden blindness revealed by the omnipotent magician. Lutz had a way of locating the real in reality—the fact held in abeyance in plain sight. Her sense of where the art resided in the world was as spontaneous and self-assured as it appeared. She

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  • Film

    Class Canceled

    WHAT IF YOU COLLECTED SOME SEXY RICH KIDS and abolished not just their trust funds but money itself? The Society, Netflix’s ten-episode YA drama, spins off this premise. Set in a Greenwich, Connecticut, mock-up called West Ham, The Society begins with a smell. The town reeks. It’s TV, so the smell is maybe symbolic, the sins of derivatives-trading, pipeline-investing parents karmically rerouted to their own homes. No worries: The teens, bratty and smoldering, will be sent on a camping trip until the aroma is gone. But after a rockslide forces the bus to turn around, they’re dropped back in West

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  • Interviews

    Mike Parr

    For five decades, Australian artist Mike Parr has wrestled with and displayed his own subjectivity through printmaking, sculpture, drawing, and, most notably, performance. Over the last four years, he has built a primed audience for his work at Dark Mofo in Hobart, Tasmania, a festival that grew out of David Walsh’s Museum of Old and New Art and celebrates reconceptualizing darkness, death, and other themes that surround the winter solstice. For his June 2018 performance Underneath the Bitumen, Parr buried himself without food in a converted shipping container beneath the well-trafficked street

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  • Diary

    The Custom of the Country

    IN EDITH WHARTON’S THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, society girl Lily Bart spends the “long gilded hours of the day” moving from one Hamptons estate to another, venturing out occasionally to a Monte Carlo hotel. Though impeccably trained to move among nineteenth-century New York’s upper crust, Lily cannot afford her lifestyle independently and must rely on the goodwill of better-endowed friends and sponsors. They, of course, expect certain favors in return, whether it’s writing letters or keeping a bothersome husband amused.

    Lily falls from society’s grace when she ceases to be useful and overstays her welcome,

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  • Film

    Now and Then

    IN 2011, the acclaimed visionary filmmaker Béla Tarr declared he was retiring from making movies, and so the recent announcement that he would premiere a new work at this year’s Wiener Festwochen, in Vienna, was met with surprise and, naturally, great anticipation. This new work demonstrates that Tarr has not exactly turned away from filmmaking so much as he has decided to leave feature films behind, having taken narrative cinema as far he could in terms of the form’s expressivity.

    Tarr has always sought to challenge and extend the conceptual and aesthetic elements of contemporary cinema in order

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  • Diary

    Blood Moon

    THE ISLAND PROCESSION began around 8 PM on a muggy night. A long queue of people ceremoniously walked—there are no cars here, only mules for transport—from the old town that hugs a crescent-shaped harbor up a steep, craggy road. After passing olive, pine, and cypress trees, and whitewashed buildings creeping up the cliffs, everyone arrived at a small structure overlooking the sea, with wind-whipped flags under a Sagittarius full moon.

    This is where Kiki Smith unveiled her winsome show “Memory,” for Dakis Joannou’s Deste Foundation project, in a small, erstwhile abattoir on the Aegean Sea. It was

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  • Passages

    Martin Roth (1977–2019)

    I FIRST MET MARTIN ROTH five years ago, while he was helping install Pierre Huyghe’s big show at LACMA. Human the dog didn’t have the right papers to work in Hollywood, so we took her for a walk in the canyons of Griffith Park, where she promptly befriended a pug wearing a vest nearly the same shade of fuchsia as the paint on her leg.

    Martin’s work had the gentle, elusive grace of its author. Even in recent years, when his projects had stronger ties to current political events, his approach left more questions than answers. For his show last year at the former Eldridge Street gallery yours mine

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  • Interviews

    Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt

    I first met Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt in the mid-2000s, while I was working at SAGE (“Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders.” SAGE originally stood for “Senior Action in a Gay Environment,” which I preferred. Who doesn’t love the naughty ambiguity hanging around that word, Action?)

    At SAGE I worked with Gay Liberation Front cofounder Jerry Hoose on two panel discussions about the activism inspired by the Stonewall Riots. The apocrypha generated by people who claimed to be there drove Jerry crazy, and he told me that there was no realer deal than Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt. Jerry was so proud of Tommy’s

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  • Diary

    Vienna Calling

    IT WAS IN THE DAIRY AISLE I FIRST SPOTTED HIM. Warned there was a dancer on the loose in Lidl, I had quickly closed in on the likeliest suspect, a wispy blonde boy wearing cropped pants and a Fjällräven backpack. I trailed him as he inspected a bunch of bananas, delicately extracting a single one, before moseying over to peruse the canned coffee drinks. It was only when he shot a withering look at me and my expectant camera that it occurred to me he might not be there to perform. Indeed, the dancer I was looking for turned out to be a man with a sensible shirt and a silvery mane (“our Július

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  • Film

    Reason Being

    IN A NORTH INDIAN VILLAGE, a Muslim man is lynched to death after being accused of storing beef in his fridge. Consuming beef is not only prohibited in orthodox Hinduism but it is outlawed in many states of Hindu-dominated India. Framed sitting on a bed in his courtyard, the victim’s Hindu neighbor justifies this grisly murder. Off-camera, we hear the filmmaker point out that the government later ran forensic tests on the meat in the man’s fridge and confirmed that it was mutton, not beef. The neighbor is adamant: “How we can just believe that?”

    This is a scene from Vivek (Reason), the latest

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  • Music

    Dub Daze

    “A FACT OF ANY SUCCESSFUL POP RECORD,” Brian Eno argued in Artforum’s summer issue in 1986, “is that its sound is more of a characteristic than its melody or chord structure or anything else.” The advent of recording technology and synthesizers had by that time already exponentially broadened composers’ sonic palettes, and musical interest was no longer merely in melody, serialization, or polyphony, but in “constantly dealing with new textures.” Over the last three decades, composer, visual artist, and turntablist extraordinaire Marina Rosenfeld has built up a library of dubplates—those rare,

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