COLUMNS

  • Film

    The New Weird

    “RUN ME OVER,” tremble the lips of a masochist to the woman who bullied him in high school. “Please . . . I want you to run me over with your car.” She doesn’t. Because only one thing sexually satisfies her these days: cooking mapo tofu.

    A wildly aspirational genderqueer version of As You Like It, with all roles played by women, in Mandarin and set in a futuristic Taipei where a burgeoning countercultural resistance to social media has resulted in internet-free zones ornamented with anime sprites, Chinese opera, calligraphy, and divinatory paraphernalia—a cinematic parallel to hyperpop.

    A successful

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  • Passages

    Guy Brett (1942–2021)

    AT A 2008 TATE MUSEUM TALK on Chilean artist Eugenio Dittborn, Guy Brett recalled a studio visit during which Dittborn kept fussing with unwieldy canvases, growing frustrated. “Fucking rigidity,” Dittborn had exclaimed, bashing the canvases to the wall. This aversion to the static, a trait endemic to the artists he championed, is just as applicable to Brett himself. The critic and curator had an abhorrence for the rigid, contempt for anything that refused to bend to the shape of the world. He was attracted to vitality, to art that marked, as he put it, “a new relationship with life.”

    The British-born

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  • Interviews

    Jackie Raynal

    Jackie Raynal, the French director, editor, and former programmer of New York’s Bleecker Street and Carnegie Hall cinemas, first became involved in film when, riding through Paris on a Vespa in 1958 at the age of eighteen, she was stopped and asked to be an extra in Otto Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse. Six years later, she was the youngest head editor in France. She later became a key member of the storied Zanzibar Group, whose films anticipated and then mourned the events of May 1968. Deux Fois, Raynal’s stark, elegant 1968 directorial debut, is made under its sign. This work, and her later New

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  • Interviews

    Tim Portlock

    Tim Portlock’s immersive digital cityscapes—rendered using 3-D computer gaming and special effects software—attempt to make real the discrepancy between the ideology of American exceptionalism and our lived experience. Blending traditional aesthetic tropes derived from nineteenth-century landscape painting with PS5 verisimilitude, his uncanny composites of US cities such as Philadelphia, San Bernardino, and St. Louis—where he’s now based—glitch conventional narratives for built environments that have been palpably reshaped by deindustrialization, white flight, and the aftermath of the housing

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  • Film

    Greener Pastures

    THROUGHOUT MINARI, seven-year-old David Yi is told not to run. He has a heart murmur, so his parents and older sister just want him to be safe. But how could he not run, surrounded by all the open space of rural Arkansas? His grandmother understands, and prefers caring for him in a different way, coaxing him toward neither recklessness nor idleness but instead toward an openness to risk, vulnerability, and failure. It is this different way that shapes the film.

    A coming-of-age story based on director Isaac Lee Chung’s own experience growing up Korean American with his immigrant parents during

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  • Slant

    Point of View

    IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO IDENTIFY exactly when photography “went digital,” but a helpful benchmark is January 19, 2012, the day the Eastman Kodak Company filed for bankruptcy. A little over a decade earlier, digital cameras entered the mainstream consumer market. Soon after, the same technology began to be incorporated into a new, suddenly ubiquitous device: the cell phone. By the end of the aughts, the film and film cameras that made Kodak a multinational $30 billion brand were rendered antiquated and niche. Photographic images, analog for nearly two centuries, were now 0s and 1s. 

    Recently, I’ve been

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  • Interviews

    Martha Diamond

    Over the course of her fifty years as a painter in New York, Martha Diamond has applied her love of place and structure to canvases that capture the architecture of the five boroughs in striking hues and energetic, wet-on-wet brushstrokes. On the occasion of “1980–1989,” an exhibition of oil paintings and studies on Masonite made during the titular decade—on view at Magenta Plains in New York through February 17—Diamond looks back on her childhood in the city, her affiliation with the New York School, her informal education in painting, and her artistic community.

    I WAS BORN IN NEW YORK, and I

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  • Diary

    See Saw

    ABOUT A DECADE AGO, the Tanjong Pagar Distripark, an unassuming warehouse turned gallery hub whose tenants included Galerie Steph, Ikkan Art International, and Valentine Willie Fine Art, was touted as the “edgy” gathering spot for the Singapore art scene. Not long after, in late 2012, Gillman Barracks, another visual arts cluster home to local and international galleries and the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, was inaugurated with much fanfare. After the confetti fell, both art precincts publicly dealt with their fair share of tribulations: a revolving door of occupants, criticisms of unnecessary

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  • Diary

    Laughing Stock

    WELL, THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY! In the deluge of recent stock market coverage—hard to ignore even for the most financially illiterate digital soldiers—this new arc of the obnoxious reality show we call the US of A has fast developed along antique narrative lines such as the “Jacobite day traders versus the powdered wig hedgefunders.” Elon Musk busted into the fray mid-last week like some crypto Kool-Aid Man to incite the razing and pillaging of the hermetic fortress of finance and his loathed enemies, the short sellers, who were betting on a video game retailer to fail much as they had bet against

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  • Film

    Continental Grift

    EL PLANETAbilled as “a comedy about eviction” and the first feature film by artist Amalia Ulman, is loosely based on the real-life Spanish mother-daughter petty-crime duo Justina and Ana Belén. Arrested in 2012, the penniless yet elegant pair posed as wealthy ladies and scammed countless restauranteurs and shop-owners—who’d trusted the apparently well-heeled women to eventually settle their bill­—out of thousands of euros. In El Planeta, lead actor Ulman (who also wrote the screenplay) plays fashion student Leonor who, in the aftermath of her father’s death, can no longer afford her London

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  • Film

    Passion Play

    LARISA SHEPITKO began work on The Ascent (1977) when she was recovering from a severe spinal injury and pregnant, seized by an afflatus of fear. “I was facing death for the first time,” the Ukrainian director told an interviewer in June 1979. “Like anyone in such a situation, I was looking for my own formula of immortality.” In doing so, she reached for one of the most immortal tales ever told, transposing the Passion of Jesus to the freezing hinterland of Nazi-occupied Belorussia. A Dostoevskian psychodrama of sacrifice and betrayal, The Ascent is her most visually accomplished film, her

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  • Books

    After Party

    IN FALL 2020, artist Matt Keegan produced an artist book called 1996, a compendium of ephemera, essays, and interviews circling around the year in question, which Keegan sees as a tipping point for the American left—the moment its capitulation to neoliberalism was complete. It also happens to be the first birth year for Gen Z, whose members have recently begun populating Keegan’s art-school classes. In trying to come to grips with shifts in American electoral politics, ensure that key histories are passed on to posterity, and chart changes in queer identity, the book provides a nonfatalistic,

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