Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi


    TO GET ACQUAINTED with Trenton Doyle Hancock’s work—or, better yet, his world—is to become versant in an origin story that the artist first conceived of when he was in the fourth grade. As a precocious ten-year-old, Hancock drew Me Turning into Torpedoboy, 1984, a prescient sketch of his morally indifferent alter ego/superhero. But what crisis would precipitate his superhero’s journey? What crimes would he avenge? Growing up in an evangelical Baptist church, Hancock had assimilated sermons on Black-liberation theology that spoke of a spiritual war in which Manichaean precepts on race dictated

  • Devan Shimoyama, Sudden Darkness, Sudden Flight (Paradise Watcher), 2016, acrylic, oil, colored pencil, beads, glitter, and feathers on canvas, 62 × 42".

    Devan Shimoyama

    Devan Shimoyama is fast becoming recognized for his luminous, bejeweled imaginings of queer black men in overgrown, moonlit forests or within the convivial locales of barbershops. In “Cry, Baby,” his first solo museum exhibition, the artist has set out to reckon with the latter social space as a “more realistic” setting for black masculinity while positioning sylvan swaths of land as mythic counterpoints. What resonates, however, are the moments that cradle and peel back that division, poetically articulating how the two climes are bound up in the black radical tradition—and imagination. In a

  • View of “Earwitness Theatre,” 2018, Chisenhale Gallery, London. Photo: Andy Keate.
    interviews November 27, 2018

    Lawrence Abu Hamdan

    As many as thirteen thousand people have been executed at the Saydnaya Military Prison in Syria since 2011, a number that remains an estimate as the site is inaccessible to independent monitors. The prisoners are mostly kept in the dark or blindfolded and thus develop a sharp awareness of sounds. Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s current exhibition in London details the experiences of former Saydnaya detainees through an extensive sound library and a listening room, with an audio essay charting the subtle transformations of their voices within Saydnaya following the 2011 uprising in Syria. “Earwitness

  • Mark Bradford, Pickett’s Charge (Dead Horse) (detail), 2016–17, mixed media on canvas, 11' 7" x 50'.
    picks September 18, 2018

    Mark Bradford

    Wars are often predicated on a surrounded visual and politics: We aggress when we are circled in. Outward expansion conceivably mitigates reoccurrences of enclosure. Still, borders remain. Histories get written. And, ultimately, what gets remembered is determined by who is surrounded or paints the picture as such.
    Mark Bradford is attuned to all this. He finds something “troubling” about the vainglory of the American Civil War, particularly Pickett’s Charge—the battle on July 3, 1863, that swung the tide for the Union North over the Confederate South. That historic battle occasioned Paul


    “White people know that God is a spook,” declared Sun Ra, the free-jazz pioneer and leader of Afrofuturism. By reappropriating a racist slur synonymous with ghost, Sun Ra linked black people to spirits and divinity. Yet Afrofuturist thought often focuses on technoculture and interplanetary escape with nary a mention of religiosity. Robert Pruitt has waded into these end-of-time waters, and his first museum exhibition in Los Angeles will be devoted to his upbringing in a devout household. On view will be twelve of his celebrated charcoal-and-conté-crayon portraits of

  • View of “BLESS N°63 Neutra Dasein,” 2018.
    picks August 17, 2018


    Modernist “house museums” across the world—for example, Villa Savoye, the Barcelona Pavilion—are billed as architectural pilgrimage sites. The Neutra VDL House II is no exception. Having served as both lodge and laboratory for the late architect Richard Neutra, the resurrected structure (the first VDL House burned down in 1963) overlooking Silver Lake Reservoir (itself drained and refilled) is a meditation on survival through design. This ethos now encompasses curatorial interventions in the space, with the maverick design duo BLESS—Desiree Heiss and Ines Kaag—moving in and setting up the house

  • Ian Markell, RISER, 2018, carpet, wood, galvanized steel, laser printed image of three presumed gay men, Plexiglas, hardware, 18 x 16 x 120".
    picks July 03, 2018

    Ian Markell

    In 1977, Douglas Crimp explicated a turn in pictorial signification—a gradual distancing of image from context that freed up the imaginary. In this distance, both psychological and material, the caption takes on a solemnity, as these spectral pictures—resistant to meaning, hospitable to vagaries—now house secrets. Social media has since changed our relationship to pictures, with captions facilitating not just meaning but, increasingly, monetization. Moments of secrecy are all the more noteworthy for their evasion of capitalist mechanisms.

    Ian Markell seems indebted to secrets, the dispossessed