COLUMNS

  • Passages

    Tom Moody

    Cory Arcangel remembers Tom Moody

    THERE WERE ONLY A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE who were in New York’s Net art scene of the early ’00s. It was a scene of square pegs, as everyone had come from different fields. There were dystopian cyberlibertarians, Lower East Side performance artists, West Coast cowboy hat–wearing BBS hippies, trad contemporary artists who decided to “drop out,” and, of course, Tom Moody. Tom—who looked like he stepped right out of a middle management I.M.B. office in 1976—was a polymath. Once on a studio visit to his tidy, sunny, and quite pleasant New Jersey flat in 2005, we discussed his prints, writing, music, art,

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  • Passages

    DAN GRAHAM (1942–2022)

    Alex Kitnick on Dan Graham

    I DIDN'T KNOW Dan Graham well. I met him a handful of times in the mid-2000s when I was a graduate student at Princeton University. I wanted to write my dissertation on Dan, but I was too young and too terrified to do it. Once, when I met him in his loft on New York’s Spring Street, he threw a fit because I didn’t know the work of the Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa. I was wet behind the ears and couldn’t find my angle—I was too sympathetic to his position, which was at once ardent, skeptical, and laced with wry humor. With Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley, we took an architectural tour of

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  • Film

    RESIDENT EVIL

    James Quandt on Ramon and Silvan Zürcher’s The Girl and the Spider

    “ALLES GEHT KAPUTT,” a plaint uttered late in The Girl and the Spider (2021), conjures the controlling theme of this precisionist study in entropy and dissolution. The word kaputt, with its connotations of utter exhaustion or failure, repeats five other times in the film, variously applied to a pair of glasses, a sound system, a pair of shoes, a door, and, most tellingly, a discarded down jacket, its yawning seams shedding a soft rain of feathers as a reminder that everything eventually falls apart. The opening image of an architectural plan for a four-room flat segues, assisted by a subtle

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  • Passages

    Dan Graham (1942–2022)

    R. H. Quaytman on Dan Graham

    Thinking back on my thirty-year friendship with Dan Graham, I realize, only now, that entering his orbit was a lot like stepping into one of his glass pavilions. There was an outside and an inside, with a threshold between them that was optically but not physically permeable. As anyone who knew Dan will attest, he could deploy an intense focus toward his interlocutor that made it feel like he really saw you. He was a soothsayer, a reader of the signs and markers of our common life story. He had a way of getting at your deepest fears, laying them out like a cheap country-and-western song and

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  • Film

    War After War

    Sergei Loznitsa’s unflinching visions of Ukraine in flames

    SERGEI LOZNITSA, the prolific Ukrainian cineaste who has directed no less than twenty-six documentaries and five fictional features, remains too little known by general art cinema audiences, even after having garnered fifty-two significant awards at prominent international film festivals over his twenty-year career. In 2018 Loznitsa’s jet-black political satire Donbass earned him the prize for best director in the “Un Certain Regard” competition at Cannes. Three years later, also at Cannes, his feature-length documentary Babi Yar: Context won the L’Œil d’or as the best documentary of 2021. After

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  • Interviews

    Margaux Williamson

    Margaux Williamson’s unruly works from home

    **

    Taking in the fifteen years of work in “Interiors,” the first career-spanning survey of the Toronto-based painter Margaux Williamson, one senses an uncanny presentiment of pandemic life and its rhythms. Glowing laptop screens, half-drunk glasses of water, ornate rugs, rumpled bedsheets, handwritten notes, and the occasional dog seem to appear and recede from focus, evoking the displacements of memory and the alternately comforting and claustrophobic weight of extended time spent at home. These upended domestic tableaux display, as Ben Lerner says in an accompanying text, the “unstable relations

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  • Diary

    Kingdom Comeback

    The spectacular return of Benin’s looted art

    LAST MONTH, when Benin’s Palais de la Marina in Cotonou opened its doors, a belated history class swung into session. Organized by the president’s office and titled “Benin Art from Yesterday to Today, from Restitution to Revelation,” the exhibition paired work by thirty-four contemporary Beninese artists with a trove of twenty-six royal objects pillaged by the French military from the Dahomey Kingdom’s capital of Abomey in 1892. Beninese people remain closely linked to their ancestral culture, they had just been prevented from seeing and interacting with (some of) it for over a century. Not

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  • Books

    OK Computer

    How digital graphics remade the material world

    IMAGE OBJECTS: AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF COMPUTER GRAPHICS. BY JACOB GABOURY. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2021. 312 pages. 

    JURASSIC PARK, the 1993 blockbuster sensation, contains a sly, almost Velázquezian instance of mise en abyme. In the eponymous theme park’s futuristic genomics lab and control room, scientists fabricate the ultimate prehistoric spectacle using desktop computers, software applications, and file systems manufactured by the real-life Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI). These prominently featured SGI workstations don’t just play an essential role in the film’s narrative structure—allowing for plot

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  • Interviews

    Emma Stern

    Emma Stern on pirates, pinups, and the virtual self

    The Jolly Roger flies in the East Village—or some pastel fantasy of it, the skull and crossbones glazed with sunset pinks above a rippling, mirrored sea, flapping in the breeze over the entrance of Half Gallery. This is piracy, Emma Stern style. The artist is known for shapely, shaded tableaux in oil on canvas that, merging then and now, draw on images from her ever-expanding cast of comely gray 3-D avatars. This time, a trio of glassy-eyed babes don swashbuckling skirts and boots, grip pistols and cutlasses, and maraud shores inundated with high camp and high water. Scourged by the promise of

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  • Interviews

    Thomas Demand

    Thomas Demand on photographing Azzedine Alaïa’s archive

    Having previously considered architects including Hans Hollein and John Lautner, Thomas Demand now turns to the work of the late fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa for “Model Studies,” on view at Matthew Marks Gallery in Los Angeles through April 9, 2022. The exhibition consists of four large photographs taken in Alaïa’s archive: patterns used by the French couturier and his studio to make and remake his garments known for their tight, exacting forms. Our conversation spanned questions of craft, translation, and models both physical and conceptual. We spoke over sandwiches in Santa Monica.

    AFTER

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  • Books

    Direct Action

    Carmen Winant’s lessons in looking

    INSTRUCTIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY: LEARNING HOW TO LIVE NOW, BY CARMEN WINANT. London: SPBH Editions, 2021. 119 pages.

    “LET ME PAUSE HERE to say that ‘instructional photographs’ is a term that I have made up; there is no preexisting dedicated category for this kind of picture,” writes artist Carmen Winant in her slim, pocketable book Instructional Photography: Learning How to Live Now. On the opposite page, a woman gingerly pulls hardened plaster from her face; culled from a photographic “how-to” on mask-making, the black-and-white image has been shorn of captions and context, extricated from the words

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