Ania Szremski

  • Amar Kanwar

    To retreat into sleep during times of political cataclysm is to concede to failure, but in thus surrendering, the sleeper is ultimately able to rebroker reality in her dreams, the Egyptian author Haytham el-Wardany proposes in The Book of Sleep (2017). What Jean-Luc Nancy describes as the illogical, ungraspable state of slumber has become a conceptual touchstone for some interlocutors of Egypt’s wrenching revolutionary experience (see Anna Della Subin’s book-length essay Not Dead but Sleeping [2016] or the exhibition “When the whites of the eyes are red,” curated by Shehab Awad at the CCS Bard

  • “A new job to unwork at”

    When Maria Gómez Chávez struck out on her own, her only option for getting by was to marry a man—and over the years, she kept getting married again and again to support her family. Wes Larios, her grandson, understands that he has the privilege of being an artist today because of her economic pragmatism. As part of the group exhibition “A new job to unwork at,” Larios’s text-and-photo installation Acknowledgements,2018, paid homage to his grandmother’s largely unseen labor and myriad sacrifices: Her name and the names of her consecutive husbands and their children, along with their birth

  • Etel Adnan, Ione Saldanha, and Carolee Schneemann

    Beauty is a difficult thing to grapple with in a moment of political cataclysm. Is it an indulgence, a retreat, a surrender? Is finding pleasure in a gorgeous artwork the equivalent of pulling the covers over your head? It would be easy to say yes, and then to dismiss a show such as Galerie Lelong & Co.’s “Of the Self and of the Other.” The exhibition was clearly organized to capitalize on current tastes in the market, as it brought together three older female artists: Etel Adnan, the late Ione Saldanha (who died in 2001 at the age of eighty), and Carolee Schneemann. The works on view were

  • Tommy Hartung

    Science fiction flourishes in the “great whirlpool periods of history,” according to Darko Suvin, a pioneering theorist of that critically disdained genre. The Czech intellectual Karel Čapek wrote during one of those traumatic times—just after the unspeakable devastation of World War I, just before the ascension of the Third Reich, and during the rise of communism (a philosophy he virulently opposed). Čapek’s 1920 play R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Robots is a drama about a cheap workforce of manufactured humanoids who murder their human creators. It’s now best remembered for introducing the word

  • Brian Conley

    On March 28, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi won his second term as Egypt’s president in an absurdist victory for Western-style democracy: The counterrevolutionary strongman garnered 97 percent of the vote in what was essentially a one-man race. Three days later, San Francisco–based artist and educator Brian Conley’s solo exhibition of photographs, “Cairo Oblique” (in which Sisi’s mug is a recurring motif), opened at Pierogi. Egypt receded from the international news cycle long ago, so why this exhibition would appear in as navel-gazing a city as New York was puzzling. Why would anyone care?

    I myself cared: