Eva Díaz

  • “Soft Power”

    WHEN POLITICAL SCIENTIST Joseph Nye coined the term “soft power” soon after President Ronald Reagan’s final term, he framed it as the use of “attractive” policies and cultural values to expand political influence. But even Nye acknowledged that soft power was often paired with considerably harder tactics of persuasion. Under Reagan, armed-forces budgets increased to nearly triple their Vietnam War–era levels. Soft power would shake your hand with the velvet glove of Hollywood knowing that the iron fist of military domination was just behind, ready to help support US corporate interests and

  • passages December 24, 2019

    Carla Herrera-Prats (1973–2019)

    VIVACIOUS is a wrenching word to use about someone no longer alive, but Carla had immense energy. She was someone you wanted to spend more time with—you’d go to a party and end up talking only to her. She had a disarming magnetism that came from a rare mix of honesty and kindness, and she never pretended; talking with her was like being enveloped in an emotional warmth scarce in New York.

    Kids, husbands, jobs. You start to see less of people in your thirties and forties. Carla was away from New York most summers leading SOMA’s Summer Program in Mexico City, and her teaching jobs at Cooper Union,

  • “William Cordova: Now’s the time—narratives of southern alchemy”

    The most prescient work in the 2014–15 Prospect.3 biennial in New Orleans was William Cordova’s staged showdown between the Soul Rebels brass band and the colossal Robert E. Lee statue in the city center. At Cordova’s invitation, the all-black group played loud and proud from a rooftop facing the Confederate general. (A video documenting the event is titled Silent Parade . . . or the Soul Rebels Band vs. Robert E. Lee, 2014.) Three years later, the monument was removed. Silent Parade will be on view at the Pérez Art Museum along with some twenty-five other pieces by

  • performance March 10, 2017

    Life on Mars?

    ON FEBRUARY 19 MPA, an artist based in Joshua Tree, California, completed (along with colleagues Amapola Prada and Elizabeth Marcus-Sonenberg) an ersatz ten-day residency at the Whitney Museum titled Orbit. For that period, the three women lived sequestered in a thirty-six-foot-long by three-foot-wide sliver of the Museum’s theater facing the Hudson River. They resided like zoological specimens in this glass-enclosed box, isolated from yet completely exposed to the public during museum open hours. Dressed in red outfits that accessorized the vermillion infrastructure of their capsule, they lived

  • diary February 12, 2016

    It’s the Economy, Stupid

    THE LAST TIME I went to a College Art Association conference I didn’t attend a single panel. Instead I shopped a book proposal around in meetings with editors at CAA’s vast onsite book fair. At that time I couldn’t stomach (afford) renewing my membership and paying the steep registration fees. Currently the entrance fees total $490 if you signed up at the conference ($380 if you had your act together and registered in early January); attending a single two-and-a-half-hour panel costs $50. Tack on transportation and a night or two of a hotel, and CAA will set you back a cool grand. But it’s a

  • performance October 01, 2014

    Environmental Hazards

    YOU CAN’T SWING A DEAD CAT these days without hitting a reference to the “Anthropocene,” the term for what some argue is a new geological age caused by humans fucking up the environment. Philosopher Bruno Latour’s play Gaïa Global Circus—which had its US premiere at the Kitchen last week (it first played in September 2012 as part of Documenta 13 in Kassel)—invokes the Anthropocene to tackle hairy issues about who bears responsibility for global climate change, and what can possibly be done about it. Like the Civilians’ play The Great Immensity that was at the Public Theater earlier this year,

  • Jacolby Satterwhite

    Many times when we say collaboration, we actually mean task-based audience participation, or even, simply, appropriation. Think, for example, of how “collaborative” processes such as workshopping and inviting audience contributions often result in a single-authored artwork—the artist has annexed others’ efforts as his own. Jacolby Satterwhite literally dances amid these semantic distinctions, producing a body of work that mines the slippery word for all it’s worth. To create his fantastical videos, the artist makes CGI renderings of speculative consumer products drawn by his mother, and

  • Phil Collins

    In 1998, an influential article in the Harvard Business Review introduced the phrase “experience economy”; in the years since, billing a product or service as an “event” of “memorable” or “transformative” effect has become the pervasive rhetoric of marketing. In 2011, Phil Collins created the idiosyncratic home-shopping channel TUTBU.TV, offering television viewers an opportunity to purchase and then star in selected experiences as though they were exchangeable commodities. Yet these experiences, when mediated through the hyperbolic theater of TV sales, delivered not only “memories” but perverse

  • Julio Grinblatt

    In Fluxus event scores, the interpretive freedom invited by a brief and sometimes enigmatic textual composition encourages unexpected outcomes in the work’s performance. For example, how does one execute George Brecht’s Word Event • Exit, 1961, which consists simply of those few units of language printed on a small white card? Julio Grinblatt, an Argentinean artist based in the US, is clearly inspired by both the economy and the indeterminacy of Fluxus instructional works. In his ongoing photographic series “Cielito Lindo,” 2005–, he invited professional color labs to participate in the creation

  • picks June 02, 2013

    Katherine Wolkoff

    The prevailing metaphor of photography is that of the hunt. Photographers shoot, even stalk, their subjects; in the case of Katherine Wolkoff’s work, the absence of “prey” itself becomes the subject of the project. Wandering the fields of Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island, Wolkoff searches for deer beds, the matted-down sections of high grassland that deer create to sleep in. Because deer are skittish animals, those of us who aren’t sportswomen can scarcely imagine a deer relaxing enough to nap, and at times Wolkoff tracks the animals only to have them dart off moments before she arrives.

  • Rico Gatson

    The five paintings in Rico Gatson’s series “Watts,” 2011, on view in this show, are adapted from aerial photographs of the Watts rebellion of 1965, in Los Angeles, and address the still raw and unresolved nature of the injustices that trigger urban violence, as well as the news media’s recursive tendency to produce the same kinds of oversimplified images of political unrest. In the approximately four-by-four-foot square panels, a textured crust of glitter overpainted in black indicates city blocks, while crisscrossing dark-gray lines represent the intervening roads. As in the source photos taken

  • picks April 15, 2013

    David Hartt

    Until recently, the Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) was headquartered in the first skyscraper in Chicago owned and designed by African Americans. The firm was home to a suite of ventures: Jet and Ebony magazines, the now-defunct journals Copper Romance, Hue, and Tan, and Fashion Fair, a line of cosmetics for women of color. At the time of its sale in 2010, the building was also a relic of a rather ostentatious kind of early-1970s decor. Shortly before the property changed hands, artist David Hartt photographed and filmed at the site, capturing the rhythms of work in this unique environment, as

  • Trevor Paglen

    THE END OF SPACE AGE: So proclaims the cover of a recent issue of The Economist, which Trevor Paglen has photographed and blown up to movie-poster size. If ever there was a moment to reassess the utopian drive to exceed the envelope of Earth, now is that time, for, as Paglen’s exhibition suggests, the era of space exploration as a humanistic program of knowledge acquisition, interspecies communication, and possible intergalactic colonization—in short, the epoch of cosmic optimism—has receded. Instead, embers of dystopian millenarianism, already present during the Cold War period, are

  • Claudia Joskowicz

    Feuding with one’s neighbor will undoubtedly pressurize the already delicate politics of apartment life. Now imagine the amplified tensions that would arise if that neighbor were former Nazi Klaus Barbie, the so-called Butcher of Lyon, who is estimated to have been directly responsible for the deaths of approximately 4,000 people during the German occupation of France.

    Claudia Joskowicz’s eight-minute two-channel video Sympathy for the Devil, 2011, re-creates just such a scenario, revealing something of the nature of the ideological jumble that resulted from South America’s post–World War II

  • Goshka Macuga

    If Poland—“God’s playground,” in historian Norman Davies’s pithy phrase—didn’t invent black comedy, it has surely produced some of the wryest examples of tragic-absurd performance throughout its fraught post–World War II period. Take Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958), one of Roman Polanski’s early films, in which two men emerge from the sea carrying a large wardrobe, only to be beaten with a dead cat by a group of local toughs, or Tadeusz Konwicki’s novel A Minor Apocalypse (1979), which follows the slapstick tribulations of a hungover middle-aged man who wanders the streets of Warsaw,

  • Rey Akdogan

    Who didn’t move to the Big City for the nightlife? Or at least the idea that it’s there for you if you want it? Well, prepare to be happy: Rey Akdogan’s show “night curtain” was open to the public from dusk to midnight. Accordingly, it took full advantage of an often-ignored truth of metropolitan art-viewing, one that the night hours at Palais de Tokyo in Paris have exploited to great effect for years, and that the lines out the door for the occasional late nights at New York museums demonstrate: People love to see art after the sun goes down. Doing so changes the whole texture of the viewing

  • Paul Pfeiffer

    To Johan Huizinga, author of the classic 1938 study Homo Ludens, it is the healthy, energetic civilization that is able to constantly engender new forms of play, whereas in decadent societies, highly organized systems of recreation and amusement become mere formal games. With its concise group of works, all from 2012, Paul Pfeiffer’s exhibition “Playroom” explored the spectrum of modernity’s forms of play, from “free,” fun and pleasurable activities to codified competitions in which profit or passive entertainment seem to be the motivating impetus.

    The most mesmerizing of these works is 100 Point

  • Christian Jankowski

    As a metaphor for art criticism, “message in a bottle” is, at best, rather anomic. Is that what we as writers do: just chuck it out there and pray some random reader halfway around the world stumbles on the entreaty of our otherwise lonely prose? Review, 2012, part of Christian Jankowski’s exhibition “Discourse News,” consists of approximately one hundred bottles sealed with red wax, which contain handwritten art reviews the artist solicited from critics and were here organized in clusters throughout the gallery space. Not only are the enclosed texts proleptic—Jankowski asked the

  • “Notations: The Cage Effect Today”

    No study of composer John Cage’s legacy would be complete without acknowledging his own influences and frequent collaborations. In the case of visual-art practices, his work with Robert Rauschenberg looms largest. Indeed, in Hunter College’s exhibition “Notations: The Cage Effect Today,” organized by Joachim Pissarro with the help of an international group of curators (Bibi Calderaro, Julio Grinblatt, and Michelle Yun), Rauschenberg is a silent but dominant partner in the proceedings.

    Cage credited Rauschenberg, whom he met in New York in 1951 and worked with at Black Mountain College and beyond,

  • Per-Oskar Leu

    If the history of the twentieth-century could be distilled to just a few key episodes, one of them might be Bertolt Brecht’s appearance before a US House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) panel in 1947. Speaking with great deliberation in his thick German accent, Brecht point by point dismantled his interrogators’ claims about the danger of his works and of “political” poetry more generally. Employing Brechtian-inspired Verfremdungseffekte, or distancing effects, Norwegian artist Per-Oskar Leu weaves a fabric of real voices and fictional characters to stage an innovative reimagining of