COLUMNS

  • Passages

    Jemeel Moondoc (1946–2021)

    “EVERYTHING ENTERS INTO THIS MUSIC,” the saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc once observed. “It could be anywhere or anything, everything enters into the music.” A self-proclaimed “melodic storyteller,” Moondoc, who died in August a few weeks after his seventy-sixth birthday, was a font of prodigious invention, his nearly fifty-year career in free jazz one of the music’s lasting, though little-known, achievements.

    Born in Chicago in 1946, Moondoc’s surname derived from his great-great-grandfather, the original “moondoctor” who sang, danced, and sold cures in “moonshine medicine shows” at the turn of the

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  • Film

    Grand Illusion

    PEDRO ALMODÓVAR’S PARALLEL MOTHERS was the official opening night film of the 78th Venice International Film Festival, but through a twist of scheduling, mine was the less-trumpeted Atlantide. The new feature from gallery artist and filmmaker Yuri Ancarani was a playful overture, a coming-of-age portrait of teenagers and their fast boats on the lagoons and waterways of another Venice not mobbed by tourists. Reframing the games of status and speed from Ancarani’s luxe mirage The Challenge (with an assist from some re-creation), Atlantide has everything: drag racing, hot pursuit by police, boat

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  • Diary

    Moveable Feasts

    INDEPENDENT’S ABILITY TO CHOOSE locations that have private members clubs is unmatched. This year it had left Spring Studios, where someone told me it was outbid by Fashion Week, for the Battery Maritime Building, where a Cipriani recently moved in and bolted a gaudy nameplate to the facade, insisting it be called Casa Cipriani, which no one did. It’s an absurd place, but also a fitting expression of New Yorkers’ recent yen for dining in traffic and pretending they’re in the Veneto. People enjoyed six dollar Diet Cokes and plastic bowls of pasta on the terrace, which has spectacular views

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  • Slant

    Smoke Signals

    “THOUGH IT’S DARK, STILL I SING” is the name of the show. Though it’s a pandemic and the country is on the verge of collapse, still we find ways to celebrate. Nothing spells dystopia more than a tightly packed queue of art-world elites each waiting their turn to be tested for Covid-19 before entering the VIP opening of this year’s much-anticipated thirty-fourth Bienal de São Paulo. Screens mounted at the door of Oscar Niemeyer’s modernist pavilion in the city’s biggest park beeped and grew brighter with each test result, allowing the patient to step into the premises. It felt like boarding a

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  • Diary

    Planet Hollywood

    A BLUE 1969 CADILLAC COUPE DEVILLE is parked on North Orange Drive across the street from Jeffrey Deitch’s LA gallery, a flying saucer affixed to the roof. License plate: UNARIUS. The sidewalk is swarming for the opening of “The Emerald Tablet,” a group show organized by and starring local painter Ariana Papademetropoulos. The crowd stews in the hot sun, phones waiting to be deployed as two men slowly toil around the car; what exactly everyone is waiting for remains enigmatic, at least to me. Eventually it becomes clear we are watching thirty-three white doves being laboriously stuffed into the

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  • Performance

    Ramble On

    STORM KING ART CENTER is located in the Hudson Valley, about thirty miles south of the birthplace of nineteenth-century black abolitionist, feminist, and utopian seer Sojourner Truth. It sits on the ancestral territory of the Munsee Lenape nation. Bringing a black presence to outdoor sculpture in this verdant rural area should be less a matter of making space for diversity within white art worlds, and more a matter of challenging the terms upon which our histories have been violently erased from the landscape, and yet remain tangled up in its undergrowth.

    A recent work by Rashid Johnson with

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  • Film

    Prodigal Son

    FOR THE UNINITIATED: Dash Snow was a New York City street kid, graffiti writer, and artist who died at in 2009 age twenty-seven of a heroin overdose, leaving behind an infant daughter, a partner, and many grieving friends. These are facts. He left behind little in the way of art-historical significance. This is an opinion, though one with which most presumptive experts agree. I mention this only to clarify the stakes of a new documentary about Snow. Moments Like These Never Last is a movie about a debatably compelling personality whose arc pierced an art world enthralled by youth, glamour, and

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  • Architecture

    Back to the Future

    WHEN DAVID HOCKNEY first arrived in Santa Monica, in 1964, he decided to ride his bicycle across Los Angeles as far as Pershing Square, which he had heard was a prime cruising spot. Only too late did he realize that the journey was eighteen miles. The painter resolved to buy a car the next day.

    Christopher Hawthorne told this story a couple of Fridays ago, delivering it with a wan smile. “There’s a whole genre of non-LA artists and writers coming here and trying to bike the city,” he said. “Newcomers just don’t understand the scale.” The former architecture critic of the Los Angeles Times—now

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  • Passages

    JANET MALCOLM (1934–2021)

    ABOUT TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO Janet Malcolm published a profile of me in the New Yorker that became something of a touchstone of art journalism. It served as the title essay of one of her collections, and has been reprinted several times. I’m told it’s often assigned in classes on art writing, on the assumption that it sheds some light on that murky enterprise.

    It’s uncommon for the subject of a profile to warmly remember the profiler, and my friendship with Janet struck some people as odd. For some, it would be hard, or so they imagined, to get past the discomforts of so much self-exposure, and

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  • Film

    ALCHEMICAL ROMANCE

    WE BEGIN IN THE BLACK, as the film exhales. Slowly, a jagged horizon appears against the darkly glowing empyrean. It flickers out, then returns. Another ragged lip of earth teethes a lambent sky: an awakening. Shot on 16 mm in 2015 in the Atacama Desert spanning the border between Chile and Argentina, and later blown up to a magisterial 35 mm, Daïchi Saïto’s thirty-minute experimental film earthearthearth (2021) is an optical acid trip in which the boundaries between terra firma and yawning firmament dissolve in a hallucinatory explosion of color and light.

    Like Ronald Johnson’s ARK (1996), the

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  • Slant

    THERE, THERE

    COINED BY THE ENVIRONMENTALIST David Foreman in 1990, rewilding describes a preservation strategy that allows ecosystems to strike a new equilibrium after long periods of abuse and reckless overextraction. While certainly contentious in conservation circles, the promise of a clean slate at a moment when all other options seem exhausted has gained traction in the popular imagination (just think of how many “nature is healing” memes have floated around in the past year and a half). In their essay “Cur(at)ing for a Broken World: The Case for Collective Rewilding,” the curatorial group Collective

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  • Top Ten

    Moses Sumney

    Moses Sumney is a singer, writer, and multidisciplinary storyteller. His debut album, Aromanticism (2017), topped end-of-year lists for media outlets such as Bandcamp Daily, the New York Times, NPR, and Pitchfork. In 2019, the artist received an SXSW award for his music-video work and completed a MacDowell Fellowship residency. Sumney’s 2020 sophomore double album, græ, has received top marks from Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, and the New Yorker, among other publications. Sumney’s first solo exhibition in New York, “technoechophenomena,” will be presented by Pioneer Works and staged at

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