COLUMNS

  • 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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  • Slant

    Total Recall

    “IT’S LIKE GOOGLE IMAGES, but in paper and folders.” This has been the simplest way for me to describe the New York Public Library’s Picture Collection to friends, family, and students unfamiliar with one of New York City’s great underknown treasures. The analogy captures the important features of the Picture Collection—its scale, its indexing, and its promise of democratized access. Here, more than a million clipped photographs, prints, maps, illustrations, and sundry other material are organized under thousands of subject headings—from “Apparitions” to “Scorpions” to “Trade Unions”—and are

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  • Film

    Modern Times

    WHEN THE FIRST PANDEMIC WAVE swept through India last year, television stations briefly turned their attention from the elite’s fever dreams of jingoism and celebrity to the nightmarish condition of the working poor. It wasn’t so much the virus as the government response. Days after Prime Minster Narendra Modi declared a lockdown on March 24, there was a vast exodus of workers, who fled cities for their villages, largely on foot. More than 130 million lost their jobs overnight; wages had been so low and protections so scarce that they lacked even a few days’ savings. “The images of this restive

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  • Diary

    Neue Normal

    WINDSWEPT AND SOAKING WET, I took a seat on a Barcelona chair. Around me wall text was still emerging from behind sheets of protective plastic, and a bright red crane extended to fix a light in the ceiling. I’d been circling the expansive terrace of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie for a while, searching for a way into Mies van der Rohe’s immense glass box, which is finally reopening after a six-year overhaul led by David Chipperfield architects. Amid the rainstorm, the building’s inhuman proportions and impossibly clean lines seemed alienating and defiant. A huge, newly polished Henry Moore

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  • Interviews

    Dash Shaw

    BEST KNOWN as a graphic novelist—Bottomless Belly Button (2008); Body World (2010), New School (2013); Cosplayers (2014)—Dash Shaw has also made two animated feature films. The first was My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea (2014), an outsider’s vision of teenage angst which employs Titanic as a disaster movie template. The second, Cryptozoo (2021), again riffs on a Hollywood blockbuster, Jurassic Park, using his distinctive manner of drawing and painting that has become more sophisticated and complex in the years since High School. A cartooning major at the School of Visual Arts (he

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  • Passages

    Peter Rehberg (1968–2021)

    IN 1995, I received a fax from Peter Rehberg stating that Mego, the label he co-ran, wanted to work with me. It was the start of a twenty-six-year relationship that ended with the album I released this year. To reflect on the late artist, who performed as Pita, one might start with his work there. Mego’s first release, General Magic and Pita’s 1995 “Fridge Trax,” is a twelve-inch record that features four pieces constructed using recordings of refrigerators. For decades of avant-gardists, utilizing found sounds evoked musique concrète, but in nonacademic electronic music, at the intersection of

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  • Film

    Space Oddity

    AN ANDROID NAMED FRIENDSHIP is sent to Earth on a peace mission from the faraway galaxy of Procyon, but something goes wrong upon atmospheric entry: Instead of landing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she finds herself in Jordan during Black September, the 1970 military conflict between the Jordanian army and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that followed in the wake of Israel’s mass Palestinian depopulations of 1967. Stranded in Amman, the android, designed by computers to arrive with a “fully axiomatized system of ethics” and a penchant for Charlie Parker, is captured

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  • Interviews

    Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki-Olivo)

    Jade Kuriki Olivo’s retrospective at the Kunsthaus Glarus in Switzerland brings together the Brooklyn-based artist’s work from the past decade. On view through August 22, the show maps the evolution of her practice as she transitioned from working under the guise of Puppies Puppies to living as an openly trans woman. Here, Olivo reflects on this transformation and discusses refusing to hide, the turning point represented by this exhibition, and the weekly Stonewall Protests for Black Trans Liberation that have kept her going over the past year.

    I WAS HIDING from the world for a long time. In

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  • Film

    Burn This Way

    AMID CREPITANT FLAMES and crying gulls, Pablo Larraín’s Ema begins with the same musical device that opened his previous film, Jackie (2016): a glissando, that quivering freefall between two notes ferried by string, synth, or breath. The sound of surrender to momentum, the sliding frequencies of a swoon. Jackie’s blooming glissandi laid a shortcut to intrigue where there was otherwise little, but with composer Nicolás Jaar, Larraín has found a way to spin that sonic texture into the core of his new film. Ema is about many things—a couple’s failed adoption, the special vitriol reserved for

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