Emmanuel Olunkwa

  • picks February 20, 2020

    Dozie Kanu

    Dozie Kanu’s debut solo museum exhibition, “Function,” features sculptures created from sourced and ready-made industrial materials—such as aluminum, hay, steel, spray paint, and wood—that contend with the ungraspable nature of blackness. Upon entering the Studio Museum’s 127th Street satellite space, viewers first encounter Chair [iii], 2018, a lavender seat and backrest in concrete that incorporates a car rim, which serves as the work’s base. The piece is an ode to Kanu’s hometown of Houston, and its native “slab” culture (the term is an acronym for a kind of customized automobile that is “

  • diary May 09, 2019

    Poetic Justice

    “WHAT HAS MORALITY WON US?” This provocative question, posed by Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer, activist, and professor at New York University School of Law, lingered in the room on the second day of the “Vision and Justice” conference at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. It was asked during the “Mass Incarceration and Visual Narratives” panel, one of numerous events in the two-day symposium “Vision and Justice,” organized by professor Sarah Lewis. The convening’s ambitious programming took on the archive, gentrification, the prison-industrial complex, police states, Flint, racialized

  • interviews January 01, 2019

    Eileen Myles

    Eileen Myles’s new exhibition of photographs, “poems,” which they deem is a mode of “conveying a bodily experience of being in the world,” follows the release of their new book of poems and essays, evolution (Grove, 2018). The show and the book explore and document the limits of language, both visual and literary. Below, Myles talks about whom they’re writing to, their relationship to words, and knowing when to let something go. The exhibition is on view at Bridget Donahue in New York until January 13, 2019.

    MY SHOW AT BRIDGET DONAHUE is called “poems” with big quotes around it, because the works

  • interviews November 23, 2018

    Hank Willis Thomas

    Why do we believe the stories we’re told? The artist Hank Willis Thomas recasts pop culture iconography to foreground the ways that representation dissembles. His recently published monograph, All Things Being Equal... (Aperture, 2018), is a comprehensive survey of his photographic approaches. The book is also a prelude to his first solo museum show, which debuts in October 2019 at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon.

    I’D BEEN TALKING WITH APERTURE about doing another book since 2008, after publishing my first monograph, Pitch Blackness. Over the past couple of years the conversation

  • interviews October 16, 2018

    Aria Dean

    Aria Dean’s sculptures and videos examine our relationship to words and the way objects and people come to represent and exercise certain ideologies. In her solo show “lonesome crowded west,” which is on view at Chateau Shatto in Los Angeles until October 27, 2018, she looks at the dialectic between the individual and the crowd, as she discusses below.

    THE NAME OF THIS SHOW is adapted from the title of the indie rock band Modest Mouse’s sophomore album. The work, all made this year, explores the paradox of the “lonesome crowd,” my idea of being “alone together” in virtual space as a way to access

  • diary October 01, 2018

    Swan Song

    DEVONTÉ HYNES’S SONGS always remind me of a phrase my grandmother would say when people—and there were dozens of them—would share a moment of deep reflection or truth with her. She’d echo their words with “Take ’em to church, honey”—not because their truth posed any religious reference but because of the nature and universality of what was being expressed. Taking someone to church is a means of sharing one’s faith and teaching one’s gospel. Hynes’s songs serve as emotional guides to process heartache, insecurities, and selfhood, but experiencing his latest tour, under his long-term

  • interviews June 12, 2018

    Aliza Shvarts

    Aliza Shvarts’s writings and artworks explore the possibilities and impossibilities of performance, race, gender, and class. Her solo exhibition “Off Scene” presents works from the past ten years and is on view at Artspace in New Haven, Connecticut, through June 30, 2018.

    THIS SHOW IS ABOUT TESTIMONY—how the capacity to speak and be heard is gendered, classed, and racialized. Whose words carry weight? Whose speech precipitates action? Whose bodies bear assurances of trustworthiness, and whose incite doubt?

    The title of the show is a metaphor for different kinds of marginalization: for the kind of