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