Canada Choate

  • books May 06, 2020

    Red Score

    STOCKHAUSEN SERVES IMPERIALISM, BY CORNELIUS CARDEW. New York: Primary Information, 2020. 126 pages. 

    CORNELIUS CARDEW’S SOLO PIANO INTERPRETATION of the Chinese Cultural Revolution anthem “Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman,” from his 1974 record Four Principles on Ireland and Other Pieces, is spry and cheery, a toe-tapping minute-and-a-half frolic across the ivories. Though its folky character shines, Cardew’s featherweight playing belies the song’s heavy ideological underpinnings. Its lyrics: “The revolutionary masses cannot do without the Communist Party / Mao Zedong Thought is the sun

  • picks March 10, 2020

    “Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse”

    Even for the balletomaniacs among us, the material history of the art form—one caught up in interpretation, rigor, tradition, and, most of all, practice—can be hard to grasp, hidden as it is in theater archives and the closets of prima ballerinas past. Curator Patricia Mears’s exhibition here dusts off bejeweled costumes, pointe shoes, and modest rehearsal ensembles from the twentieth century, placing them in conversation with contemporaneous couture and prêt-à-porter by masters such as Yves Saint Laurent, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Christian Dior. The drool-worthy garments, organized into groups

  • Elizabeth Enders

    The last battle fought almost entirely between rowing vessels occurred nearly five hundred years ago. The mechanics, not to mention horrors, of such a confrontation are nigh unimaginable today. History paintings depicting the Battle of Lepanto tend to portray its maritime setting, in the Gulf of Patras off western Greece, as stuffed full of masts, prows, flags, cannons, and oars. Little order emerges from these chaotic scenes. In “Elsewhere,” Elizabeth Enders’s exhibition at Betty Cuningham Gallery—a fantastic, transtemporal, and world-spanning journey that unfolds across twenty-one works on

  • music January 31, 2020

    Resident Evil

    IN HIS 1846 TREATISE “The Philosophy of a Composition,” Edgar Allen Poe contended that “the death . . . of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.” The Residents, San Francisco’s most famous anonymous art collective-slash-band, offer a rejoinder: The death of beautiful conjoined twins of indeterminate gender is more poetic still. Such is the narrative of God in Three Persons, a rock opera of sorts—written in the extremely uncommon trochaic octameter, just like Poe’s “The Raven”—in which Mr. X, a roving talent manager, plainly narrates his fraught relationship

  • interviews December 24, 2019

    Phill Niblock

    Experimental music doyen Phill Niblock has been making photographs since his 1958 arrival to New York, where he cut his teeth documenting the performances of jazz greats like Duke Ellington. A decade later, Niblock began the work for which he is best (if still under-) known: multiscreen audiovisual installations scored by drones, built around microtones generated by instruments from cello to bagpipe to saxophone. “Working Photos,” a solo exhibition at New York’s Fridman Gallery on view through Janury 5, 2020, draws on over a half-century of artmaking triangulated between photography, cinema,

  • Herbert Zangs

    The late German artist Herbert Zangs (1924–2003)—who worked primarily with cardboard, staples, wood, and white paint in the years following World War II—generated a sorely underrecognized oeuvre that’s as blissfully meditative as it is dense with painterly innovation. “Plus Minus” at Blain|Southern—the first New York exhibition of Zangs’s work in fifty years—unearthed yet another example of the white monochrome’s presence during the early 1950s. When Robert Rauschenberg was showing his 1951 White Paintings to audiences both dubious and offended and Robert Ryman was observing the modernist canon

  • Joan Brown

    When the goings-on in contemporary San Francisco weigh heavily on the conscience, a reexamination of the work of the city’s earlier visionaries can provide a fleeting moment of relief. The painter Joan Brown was born in the Bay Area in 1938 and lived there until her tragic death in 1990. Selections from her oeuvre were recently on view at Anglim Gilbert Gallery, located in the new Minnesota Street Project gallery complex—just over a mile from the recently constructed Golden State Warriors stadium and surrounded by garish property developments that threaten to erase the neighborhood’s industrial

  • music June 19, 2019

    Dub Daze

    “A FACT OF ANY SUCCESSFUL POP RECORD,” Brian Eno argued in Artforum’s summer issue in 1986, “is that its sound is more of a characteristic than its melody or chord structure or anything else.” The advent of recording technology and synthesizers had by that time already exponentially broadened composers’ sonic palettes, and musical interest was no longer merely in melody, serialization, or polyphony, but in “constantly dealing with new textures.” Over the last three decades, composer, visual artist, and turntablist extraordinaire Marina Rosenfeld has built up a library of dubplates—those rare,

  • “KIM GORDON: LO-FI GLAMOUR”

    Curated by Jessica Beck and Benjamin Harrison

    In 1988, Sonic Youth borrowed an Eric Emerson monologue from Warhol’s Chelsea Girls (1966) for the lyrics of the Daydream Nation track “Eric’s Trip.” In 2019, on the occasion of her institutional debut, the Andy Warhol Museum has flipped the script by commissioning Kim Gordon to score Warhol’s silent Kiss (1963–64). Alongside Sound for Andy Warhol’s Kiss, which Gordon recorded live in the Warhol’s theater with guitarist Steve Gunn and experimental rock stalwarts Bill Nace and John Truscinski, “Lo-Fi Glamour” will feature a selection of Gordon’s

  • Ger van Elk

    The art of Dutch Conceptualist Ger van Elk (1941–2014) arrived stateside for a solo outing, the artist’s first in America since the dealer Marian Goodman, organizer of fellow jokester Marcel Broodthaers’s inaugural US exhibition, showed his work back in 1986. Though the two men share many poetic and intellectual concerns—most notably an affinity for Duchampian wit—Van Elk’s exploration of the life of images centers on the photograph, which he called his “faithful friend and basis.” In order to reintroduce Americans to Van Elk in advance of a 2021 retrospective at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum,

  • music February 27, 2019

    SO SO DEAF

    WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE between being boring and being uninteresting? Panda Bear’s show at Pioneer Works earlier this month, during which he played almost exclusively material drawn from his 2018 EP A Day With the Homies and his 2019 LP Buoys, left me wondering which of those adjectives best describes his musical sin. Noah Lennox (aforementioned Panda Bear, and member of Animal Collective), with the help of Person Pitch (2007) producer Rusty Santos, built the nine tracks on Buoys out of repetitive acoustic guitar strumming, a few samples, a deep, almost inaudible bass, and his wheedling voice.

  • ALTERNATIVE MATH

    IN HER 1979 TREATISE on language’s limited capacity for communication, “An Inscription / / / A Work in Progress,” Swedish-American polymath Catherine Christer Hennix invokes Sylvia Plath’s radio play Three Women: “It is these men I mind. They are so flat that they want the whole earth flat.” Such resistance might well characterize Hennix herself, whose work, spanning mathematics, music, sculpture, and poetry, is anything but one-dimensional. Though she played a central role in the development of minimalist music in the late 1960s, Hennix has neither performed nor exhibited much since 1976, when