COLUMNS

  • Film

    Off Topic

    OF ALL THE PRESSURES weighing on a major film festival, the most urgent—and in some ways the most absurd—is the one to be topical. How does a behemoth like Cannes meet the moment, and what would that even mean? As the most powerful film showcase and marketplace in the world, Cannes doubles as an annual referendum on the state of the art and the industry, and two framing narratives dominated this year’s pre-festival coverage. The first stemmed from the festival’s ongoing battle with Netflix, with Cannes positioned as the stubborn old guard defending the sanctity of the cinematic experience against

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  • Interviews

    Cleopatra’s

    The members of the creative and curatorial platform Cleopatra’s—Bridget Donahue, Bridget Finn, Colleen Grennan, and Erin Somerville (along with founding member Kate McNamara, who left the collective in 2011)—signed a ten-year lease on a narrow twenty-four-by-eight-foot street-level space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York, in 2008. From the project’s outset they were conscious of their long-term commitment to the space and of its mutability as a publishing house, a promotional structure, a means of archiving a local artistic community, and so much more. After a decade, the space closed this month.

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  • Diary

    Summit in Senegal

    THE RAP ON SOME BIENNIALS is that they don’t engage enough with the city that hosts them. There was no such problem at Dak’Art 2018, the thirteenth edition of Africa’s oldest and most prominent biennial. Jam-packed into one month—May 3rd to June 2nd—the thing was gargantuan, spreading across Senegal’s capital and beyond. Dakar’s old downtown, with its mix of colonial and postindependence buildings, was home to the main exhibition, organized by the Cameroonian scholar Simon Njami, who also directed the 2016 edition. Five exhibitions by guest curators, plus several country-focused shows (Egypt,

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  • Books

    Michael Stipe

    As an undergraduate art major at the University of Georgia in the early 1980s, Michael Stipe studied photography and painting before going on to become a singer and songwriter for R.E.M., his band for over thirty years. Here, Stipe talks about his new book, Volume 1, which collects some of his photography from the past thirty-eight years and was recently published by Damiani. The book was produced in collaboration with artist Jonathan Berger and designer Julian Bittiner.

    ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO, we all went through a terrifying period when we collectively convinced ourselves that books and print were

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  • Performance

    All Together Now

    MILKA DJORDJEVICH'S ANTHEM sneaks up, quite literally, on its audience. At the Chocolate Factory Theater, we the audience had taken our seats around a parquet dance floor when from a back hallway, four women appeared, step-touching toward us in conga-line formation. Their clothes seemed plucked from a 1970s closet: a gold velour jumpsuit for one dancer; suspendered pants for another; and for everyone, black jazz shoes. They took their time, as unrushed as the iridescent soundscape anointing their entrance.

    Were they at a disco? A bat mitzvah? Maybe a high school dance, but then there would be

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  • Interviews

    Hsu Chia-Wei

    Hsu Chia-Wei weaves together complex narratives of geography, history, and myth through storytelling in his films and installations. Based in Taipei, he has traveled to various locations in Asia for his work, often foraging for stories in the aftermath of war. In addition to his art practice, Hsu is a member of Open-Contemporary Art Center, an artist-run space founded in Taipei in 2001. Hsu’s art will be included in this year’s Gwangju Biennale. He is also currently participating in the Biennale of Sydney. Here, he talks about his film Ruins of the Intelligence Bureau, 2015, and the related maps

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  • Diary

    From Bratwurst to Bulgari

    THEY SAY YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL. When it came to the fourteenth edition of Gallery Weekend Berlin and the second iteration of ArtMonte-Carlo—both of which opened on April 27 and ran until April 29—I did as much as I could. The organizers of the latter attempted a collaboration, ferrying collectors between the two sites via private jet and helicopter—not very Berlin, but very Monte Carlo. The idea was to coax the most coveted collectors from Monaco’s principality to Germany’s capital and vice versa. Not a bad idea given Berlin’s desire to entice the international elite.

    The New York Times hosted the

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  • Diary

    She Brakes for Rainbows

    IT’S HARD FOR ME to feel at home at most “gala season” events. For starters, I can’t hold my alcohol. I also start to feel a serious disconnect between my roots—as the Jersey-born offspring of a family of public school teachers—and the way certain sectors of the art world court the one percent. Not to mention the fact that soigné events almost never take place in my neighborhood.

    But Wide Rainbow’s first annual gala on May 14 was the exception to the rule. The nonprofit organization, founded three years ago by Ashley Gail Harris, is a DIY female-empowerment engine providing free after-school arts

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  • Interviews

    Amalia Ulman

    Amalia Ulman’s Excellences & Perfections, 2014, a durational performance that took place on her Instagram account, featured the artist playing a young ingénue with the kinds of finely calibrated displays of taste we’ve come to recognize as typical of the pageantry of aspiration many people gamely engage in across social media platforms. By virtue of the work's placement on Instagram, the artist garnered attention for being a person she wasn’t, just as the rest of us do all the time. The posts, along with public comments, were published earlier this month in a book by Prestel that also includes

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  • Passages

    Sam Miller (1952–2018)

    SAM MILLER'S IMPRINT on the performing arts in the United States is indelible, but he himself was an enigma. I was always at a loss for what to call him. Curator? Producer? Funder? Entrepreneur? Cultural architect?

    He was all of these things. And as well, he was a poet.

    When he was the director of New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) between 1995 and 2005—during which time he founded the National Dance Project (NDP), and the Contemporary Art Centers (CAC) and Centers for Creative Research (CCR) initiatives—he became impatient with writing the obligatory annual “letter from the director.” So

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  • Diary

    Bad Madeleines

    IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (primary school to this Brit), when candy was currency, anyone who showed up with some new or unusual confection ruled the roost—at least until the prize was shared, stickily, among a dozen instant mates or wolfed down defensively by its owner. So it was particularly impressive when a classmate arrived one Monday morning with three never-before-seen treats. The brands were familiar, but the bars themselves were prototypes—experimental trial runs for yet-to-be-released products. To our sugar-addled minds, they were gold. The source of the bounty? A parent’s visit to a food

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  • Passages

    James Yood (1952–2018)

    IN 1989, the same year I started graduate school at Northwestern University, Jim Yood was hired as the college’s lecturer and assistant chair in the department of art theory and practice. He had stepped in to take the reins from the cantankerous art critic Dennis Adrian, who was proudly dispassionate about anything that diverged from a Chicago Imagist tradition. It was here where my deep and enduring respect for him began.

    For the past twenty-nine years, Jim has never stopped teaching me. He taught me the virtue of the art review. As a spirited advocate for Chicago, he underscored the cultural

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