David Velasco

  • The Power of Good-Bye

    I SHOWED UP on this magazine’s doorstep twelve years ago. I came cold, via a classified ad for an editorial assistant on some antique website called mediabistro.com. I had no connections, was broke and unworthy. I had all the wrong education and just some hot faith in art.

    I ditched the education and kept the faith.

    That faith has been useful lately, with a predatory tyrant wheezing and emitting bleak transmissions to the world from the control room like some horrible Reddit monster. I think about how he’s really just a tired and sad old man who like so many tired and sad men feels that if he

  • “Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions, 1965–2016”

    She’s the greatest dancer. For more than five decades, Adrian Piper has advanced and everted that great whirl of thinking and form we too neatly call Conceptual art. Piper shows us how to do it right, perhaps most generously through her signature performance and video works. From Funk Lessons, 1983–84, and The Big Four-Oh, 1988, to her more recent Adrian Moves to Berlin, 2007/2017, in which she grooves to postmillennial Berlin house music in sunny Alexanderplatz, Piper kicks open your mind as she steps to the rhythm. It’s been over

  • slant September 26, 2017

    Into the Storm

    APRIL 16, 2017 AT 2:24 PM EST

    Dearest Bruce,

    Today, a resurrection. 

    On Tuesday, as you recommended, I went to Light Industry to see Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield’s 1984 conversation, or portrait of, Craig Owens, part of Video Data Bank’s incredible interviews with artists and writers. This was some six years before he died, age thirty-nine, of—I rehearse the intolerable boilerplate—AIDS-related complications. 

    Eighty black-and-white minutes. Owens sits in a director’s chair in front of a makeshift backdrop—the zigzag of a wrinkled moving blanket. He talks and talks, always smoking. Or… he’s

  • PERSONAL TOUCH

    THE LINE to get into Anne Imhof’s German pavilion takes two hours. Dobermans roam behind a twelve-foot-high welded-wire fence. We wait impatiently, a procession of docile tourists, shapeless and slouching in tired linens, sweating in all the wrong places, drawn down by tote bags spelling out the names of other artists, other nations. For those in the know, Germany’s swag is hardest to get and better than the rest—a black polyester drawstring knapsack printed with a topless photo of Eliza Douglas, artist, model, Imhof’s girlfriend, and star of Faust, this stylishly cryptic show.

    Inside, the

  • Douglas Crimp’s Before Pictures

    Before Pictures, by Douglas Crimp. New York: Dancing Foxes Press; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. 308 pages.

    IT STARTS LIKE a classic bildungsroman from the mighty island-city: It’s 1967, and a young writer from a beautiful, bigoted town called Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, escapes to Manhattan to find himself. A decade later, he’s made his mark: It’s called “Pictures,” and it alters the course of art and its discourses.

    What makes Douglas Crimp’s Before Pictures so remarkable is not just its subject—the art historian and AIDS activist’s early years leading up to the epoch-defining 1977

  • performance November 25, 2016

    Thank You for Being a Friend

    November 21, 2016 at 8:54 PM EST

    Dear Mr. B,

    I’ve just come home from an event of much love at the Kitchen, part of the rollout of Douglas [Crimp]’s superb memoir [Before Pictures]. Three exemplary interlocutors from three different dance worlds: Adrian Danchig-Waring (New York City Ballet/Balanchine), Silas Riener (Merce Cunningham), and Yvonne Rainer (Yvonne Rainer). 

    A little asymmetrical, I suppose, since Rainer got to play herself, though everyone did a very good job representing. 

    Rainer, at the end, was trying to respond to a question from the audience, and failing a bit. She said her mind

  • interviews May 27, 2016

    Terence Koh

    The mythmaker Terence Koh makes the most of big questions. For his show “bee chapel” at Andrew Edlin’s new space on the Bowery, the Beijing-born, Ontario-raised artist has brought upstate New York downtown, covering the gallery’s floors in topsoil, conjuring a living-dying apple tree, and building a wax shrine for a colony of bees. Acrylic tubes connect the “chapel” to the outside, allowing the little ciphers to come and go as they please. This is Koh’s first solo presentation in New York since nothingtoodoo, his memorable performance at Mary Boone Gallery in 2011.

    I MOVED UPSTATE about two-and-a-half

  • interviews May 17, 2016

    Kim Brandt

    Kim Brandt’s smart, affecting, weird-form dances never take for granted the bodily habits or functional protocols of modern choreography and its users. Here she talks about her latest work, Clear Night, 2016, commissioned by Issue Project Room, comprising eight unique, daily performances from Friday May 20th to Friday May 27th at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn.

    I LEARNED TO DANCE from a former Rockette in rural New Hampshire. She had a studio that was in the middle of a parking lot that separated two trailer parks. I loved it, and I was in love with her. At some point in my teens I was ready to branch

  • Park McArthur

    Absorption is a loaded word in art history, but Park McArthur is not an artist who shies away from the loaded. Two of the more remarkable installations in recent memory are her Posey Restraint, 2014, a straitjacket strung drolly across a doorway between galleries in MoMA PS1’s Greater New York, and her 2014 Essex Street show consisting of twenty portable ramps, via which the artist, who uses a wheelchair, had accessed various buildings from 2010 to 2013. McArthur’s solo exhibition at the Chisenhale Gallery, her first in the UK, takes absorption as its theme, and will comprise four new series of

  • interviews April 27, 2015

    My Barbarian

    Making fun may be our best strategy for survival. Or at least the best way to stay cool in the heat of the in-between, the space of interruption where My Barbarian does their most incisive work. Here the notorious collective—founded in 2000 by Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade—talks about “Double Agency,” a multipart, multimedia project built on and around the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for the institution’s fiftieth anniversary this month. A Double Agency performance featuring My Barbarian with Robbie Acklen, Nao Bustamante, Jibz Cameron, and Adam Dugas takes place at LACMA

  • interviews February 22, 2015

    Claudia La Rocco

    As part of its continuing fortieth anniversary celebrations, Danspace Project invited the poet and critic Claudia La Rocco to curate an iteration of its Platform series of performances and events. Titled “Dancers, Buildings and People in the Streets” after poet-critic Edwin Denby’s 1965 essay of the same name, La Rocco has produced a wide-ranging catalogue and brought together thirteen dance artists working in the “three nodal points of Balanchine, Cunningham, and the Judson Dance Theater” to engage in dialogues, workshops, and performances. The Platform runs through March 28.

    SEVERAL YEARS AGO,

  • “Zhana Ivanova: Ongoing Retrospective (Chapter I)”

    Until now, I didn’t really know the work of Zhana Ivanova—but it seems that’s sort of the point. And until now, I hadn’t thought much about the way in which now slips into know, a perpetual dialectic of presence and recognition. With “Ongoing Retrospective” (the Bulgarian-born artist’s first institutional solo exhibition and Elena Filipovic’s inaugural gambit at Kunsthalle Basel, where the curator began her directorship this past November), Filipovic asks us to privilege the tenebrous now over the familiar know, to commit to the curious void of an emerging artist’s

  • interviews September 03, 2014

    Trajal Harrell

    Trajal Harrell’s Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church, 2009–2013, seven works investigating a speculative collision between the traditions of voguing and postmodern dance, has become one of the most influential dance series of the past five years. From September 14–20 at the Kitchen, as part of FIAF’s Crossing the Line festival, the seven performances will be done in order, at the same theater, one work each day, beginning with (XS) on the 14th and ending with (M2M) Judson Church Is Ringing in Harlem on the 20th.

    But before then, on September 4-5, Harrell kicks off “In one step

  • interviews August 05, 2014

    Douglas Coupland

    The writer, designer, and artist Douglas Coupland hit the ground running in 1991, when his first novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, became an international best seller. In 2000, after much acclaim for his novels and nonfiction, Coupland made a decisive return to visual art, which he’d studied at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, among other places. Here he discusses his first major survey exhibition, “everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything,” which is curated by Daina Augaitis and is on view through September 1, 2014 at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

    BY FAR THE

  • diary May 15, 2014

    Pull Up to the Bumper

    ART BASEL Miami Basel Hong Kong Basel… Basel Basel Basel.

    This year, the third Frieze New York rear-ended the second Art Basel Hong Kong, and like a patchy crossfade some of us went to sleep in one city and woke up two days later in another wondering where on earth we were.

    It hardly matters. I’m not yet sure if I love Hong Kong, because I don’t quite know if I’m in Hong Kong or if the “Hong Kong” I’m looking at is just window dressing for another Art Basel. (And it is beautiful, this magic convergence of glass and water and neon and steep ascensions of tropical florae.)

    But at least I’m sure we’re

  • OPENINGS: YVE LARIS COHEN

    UPTOWN

    YOU COULD ALMOST MISS IT: A seam in the wall near the stairwell on the third floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York—five feet up, six feet over, and five feet down again. And maybe it’s meant to be missed, this rectilinear fissure that separates the secular museum walls from the sacred slab of drywall that serves variously as artwork, prop, and envoy for Yve Laris Cohen’s D.S., 2014, the artist’s contribution to the 2014 Whitney Biennial.

    Laris Cohen likes to play with what you don’t notice, the alien supports and protocols that shape and secure how we make and show

  • I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR: THE WORK OF SARAH MICHELSON

    THIS MONTH, choreographer Sarah Michelson will present her new work, 4, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Artforum invited David Velasco to examine the long arc of her oeuvre and the groundbreaking performances that have led to her most recent investigations into dance, place, and form.

    “THE PLACE WHERE THE WORK WILL HAPPEN IS pretty much always my starting point,” Sarah Michelson has said. But when the Manchester, UK–born choreographer moved to New York in the late 1980s, that starting point was already split, multiplying. In 1989, a friend took Michelson to see a John Jesurun play at the Kitchen. Jesurun had twisted the space around and made it all fucked up, but Michelson didn’t know that yet because it was her first time. She didn’t know yet that this would be the first of many proliferating sites she would learn and inhabit, and where she would produce some of the most

  • THE YEAR IN PERFORMANCE

    IN THE YEAR OF MILEY CYRUS, we learned that pop’s rote vicissitudes are still key to how we metabolize, multiply, and refigure our common pleasures and insecurities. We learned that race and sex are still potent—in other words, salable—stocks, partly because we’re all investors. And we learned that the Disney dialectic of starlet to brand, as rehearsed by Selena Gomez in Spring Breakers (2013) and Cyrus at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, is a fairy-tale trajectory of market-savvy trolling, a low-risk portfolio for those angling to mobilize the “new” capital of hits, likes, views,