COLUMNS

  • Film

    Snide and Petulance

    THE FAVOURITE MAY BE MARKED AS A DEPARTURE for director Yorgos Lanthimos, but his recent work, unusual among his that of his peers in a film festival circuit that often rewards familiarity, has comprised a series of such departures, this following an English-language debut with The Lobster (2015) and an American excursion in The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017). Now we have Lanthimos’s first period film, set at the beginning of the eighteenth century during the reign of Queen Anne, though it’s a particularly irreverent and tawdry approach to the hallowed tradition of the English heritage film,

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  • Passages

    Takehisa Kosugi (1938–2018)

    IN HIS FORMATIVE YEARS as an ethnomusicology student in the Tokyo of the late 1950s, Takehisa Kosugi’s artistic field of reference included Luigi Russolo, Michel Leiris, and Pierre Schaeffer. If the first and the last are not surprising as musical models—the Futurist’s “noise” instrumentation, and the founder of musique concrète’s concern with the “variation of matter” to be derived from alternative sound sources—looking to Leiris and the Collège de Sociologie as a model for research set Kosugi’s circle apart from their artist peers and the late Surrealism that held sway in the 1950s.

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  • Architecture

    Sketch Pad

    FANTASY COLLIDED GENTLY WITH REALITY in Houston’s leafy Montrose neighborhood earlier this month. The Menil Collection is a place I have studied closely from afar but never seen in the flesh, and I was arriving with a head full of fragments: the famous centerpiece by Renzo Piano, with its cheap pine floorboards and proprietary ceiling louvers; the rows of prewar bungalows painted a uniform gray; the blocks of evergreens; the porches; the porticos; the filtered daylight. The museum of my mind wasn’t too far off, though, in part because some recent developments make the actual place more like I

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  • Interviews

    Lorraine O’Grady

    Lorraine O’Grady’s longtime engagement with the diptych, as seen in her recent collage series “Cutting Out CONYT,” 1977/2017, which she discusses below, is highlighted in two solo exhibitions this fall: one is on view at Alexander Gray Associates in New York through December 15, 2018, and the other is at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia through January 13, 2019. “Cutting Out CONYT” is a radical selection from her earliest artwork, “Cutting Out the New York Times (CONYT),” 1977, now reworked and distilled into what she calls “haiku diptychs.” The eminent New York–based artist and critic

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  • Film

    Brush Folks

    TWO NEW FILMS ABOUT ARTISTS offer contrasting approaches to the biopic, a genre arguably subject to greater scrutiny of its claims to truth than any other. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Never Look Away coerces biographical details to augur the future genius of its painter protagonist, scrambling events to connect the dots and keep the story moving. Repudiating such conventions, Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate is a deeply personal portrait of painter Vincent van Gogh, its handheld camera immersing us almost physically in the man’s anguished compulsion to paint in a way no previous film

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  • Books

    No One Else

    INTERMEDIA, FLUXUS AND THE SOMETHING ELSE PRESS: SELECTED WRITINGS BY DICK HIGGINS, EDITED BY STEVE CLAY AND KEN FRIEDMAN. Siglio Press, 2018. 364 pages.

    DICK HIGGINS, Fluxus affiliate and founder of the Something Else Press, once described the books he published as a series of “love letters to the future.” A new volume of writings by the artist, composed between 1962 and 1997 and selected by Steve Clay and Ken Friedman, delivers on this promise, making Higgins’s underappreciated contributions as publisher, editor, patron, theorist, and historian of the 1960s neo-avant-gardes legible to today’s

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  • Diary

    Play Safe

    THE WARDROBE OF SMALL TALK must be continually refreshed; this year, during Shanghai’s unofficial art week, the once voguish ice-breaker of comparing Shanghai to Beijing proved suddenly démodé. China’s capital came up only once, during a dinner with artists Margaret Lee and Allison Katz: Margaret had just returned from a trip there, while Allison was anticipating her first visit. Symbolically, Beijing-based Philip Tinari didn’t come to Shanghai. Despite his sensible reasoning (“to attend the opening of the China show at SFMOMA and the David Diao catalogue launch in New York,” he told me two

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  • Passages

    Robert Venturi (1925–2018)

    AS AN ARCHITECTURE STUDENT STRAPPED FOR CASH in the mid 1970s, I managed to burn a month’s rent on a first-edition copy of Learning from Las Vegas by Robert Venturi and his life partner, Denise Scott Brown. This book was a revelation. I learned that architectural production could take the form of a research project and book, not only bricks and mortar. The authors single-handedly inverted the prevailing logic of design pedagogy by asserting that the rarefied world of academia could gain valuable insights from pop culture.

    At the time, I was studying at Cooper Union under the spell of the “Whites,”

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  • Diary

    Italian Feast

    FOR TWENTY-FIVE YEARS, Artissima has been a key focal point for Turin, exemplifying the web that connects at least five groups: artists, dealers, collectors, curators, and museums. The city’s institutions vigorously support this fair, and last year alone, with fifty-two thousand visitors, it generated 3.7 million euros. On the morning of November 1, collectors waited impatiently at the VIP entrance to be the first to enter the Oval Lingotto arena. It was a good sign for this edition of the fair, the second to be directed by Ilaria Bonacossa. This year, great attention was paid to contemporary

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  • Film

    Steal Magnolias

    IN 2015, the blockbuster novelist Gillian Flynn’s second book––Dark Places, a typically macabre, perspective-shuffling tale of homicide and fucked-up family dynamics straight from an economically blighted American heartland—was turned into a blandly imagined Charlize Theron vehicle by the French director Gilles Paquet-Brenner. Aside from that misfire (for which Flynn received only a “based on the novel by” credit), Flynn’s endeavors into movies and television have produced a string of starry, auteur-caliber collaborations. Her marriage-woes dissection Gone Girl found an ideal interrogator

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  • Interviews

    Narcissister

    Narcissister’s neo-burlesque performance works seem to spring from a limitless body. Masked and anonymous, she transforms herself through acrobatic prowess and ingenious stage and costume design, as she plays with themes of race, sex, gender, and pop culture. Her documentary Narcissister Organ Player––which explores her relationship with her mother, who occasionally appeared in her work––is on view at Film Forum in New York through November 20, 2018. There will be a Q&A Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 7pm with Narcissister and Lissa Rivera, the Museum of Sex Curator. 

    IN 2012 I WAS WORKING ON 

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  • Diary

    Paint It Red

    THE STAINS WERE HARD TO CLEAN. Even after the crime scene had been cleared, the sidewalk was still a faint bloody red. Days before YAGA—a new festival celebrating São Paulo’s nightlife and queer subcultures—took over the popular downtown club Love Story, Jessica Gonzaga, a trans woman, was murdered just a few blocks away. Witnesses remember her killers shouting far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s name as they stabbed her to death.

    Emboldened by Bolsonaro’s victory, his supporters now flood the streets of Brazil, repeating the new president’s homophobic, misogynistic rants. These

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