Jennifer Krasinski

  • Jennifer Krasinski

    A PERFORMANCE must be believed to be seen. I likely hang its appearance on an act of faith because I—raised Catholic in the Midwest—received my first exposure to theater by watching men in elaborately brocaded dresses conduct mass every Sunday. (As it turns out, church was also my primer on camp.) Applause was inappropriate, prayer was encouraged, and many years later the two otherwise adverse gestures still share a synapse in my head, one standing in for the other—sometimes.

    Which brings me to the frigid Friday in January when I arrived at a Shabbat dinner hosted by comedic singer-songwriter

  • interviews November 06, 2019

    Annie-B Parson

    Choreographer and director Annie-B Parson is a force of nature who’s having quite the season. She created the elegant, joyous numbers that propel the great David Byrne and his vibrant cohort of musicians and singers through his rock-show-cum-Broadway-musical, American Utopia, on at the Hudson Theater through February 16. Her company Big Dance Theater, which she cofounded with actor/director Paul Lazar and performer Molly Hickok almost thirty years ago, will present a trio of recent works under the title The Road Awaits Us at NYU’s Skirball Center on November 8 and 9. And last month, Parson

  • ZOMBIELAND

    SINCE 2006, Kelly Copper and Pavol Liška, collaborating as the Nature Theater of Oklahoma, have created brainy and ebullient works for stage, film, and video, aerating serious conceptual heft with an oddball comedic sensibility. For the directing-and-writing duo, scripts have never been hard-and-fast things. Take the one for their epic nine-part video Life and Times (2009–15): The words were transcribed from phone conversations between Liška and company member Kristin Worrall, during which the latter recounted the (often banal) details of her life thus far. What else would one expect from a team

  • “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion”

    Ninety-seven-year-old Pierre Cardin is fashion’s first mogul; his name evokes the epitome of French chic the world over, though he’s Italian by birth. His story is one of both creative and commercial prowess: After spending his youth honing his craft working under Jeanne Paquin, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Christian Dior, Cardin opened his own shop in 1950 and was soon lauded as Paris’s finest couturier of suits. Believing that all women should be able to afford smart, well-made clothes, he debuted a ready-to-wear collection in 1959—a vulgarity his peers deemed unthinkable until they, out of economic

  • interviews September 05, 2019

    JoAnne Akalaitis

    An Obie-award-winner many times over, director JoAnne Akalaitis is one of the most vital forces in American theater, her productions and performances fueled by her intellectual and political ferocity, as well as her boundless curiosity. A cofounder of the trailblazing company Mabou Mines—which she formed in 1970 with Lee Breuer, Philip Glass, Ruth Maleczech, Fred Neumann, and David Warrilow—she has previously dismissed the label “avant-garde” as it has been lobbed at her work, conceiving of herself instead as a cultural worker in the classical sense. That said, her daring visions once spurred

  • “RACHEL HARRISON: LIFE HACK”

    Curated by Elisabeth Sussman and David Joselit with Kelly Long

    “Every sculpture should have a trapdoor,” Rachel Harrison once mused, although she didn’t say whether the entrances and exits would be made by the art or the viewer or both. One could joke that such insurgence—formal, conceptual, material—is what directs the ins and outs of her virtuosic productions. Her mixed-media pieces can look like acts of oogey buffooning, object comedies that swipe at the sublime by way of the sad sack. Starring blobs and stacks and stuff blasted with perplexing color palettes, punctuated by masscult references,

  • Alex Israel

    Some encounters with art merit an autopsy report more than a review. I confess that, in those cases, I have a hard time parsing whether it is the work that is DOA, or my interest in what it’s doing, or both. Attending two shows by Alex Israel—the born-and-bred Los Angeleno who has made his reputation among collectors as one of that city’s brightest sons—I wondered if he is now feeling as stiffed as I do by the selfie-conscious, celebrity-grazing spectacles he’s been producing for half a dozen years or so. Having cast himself as a kind of Narcissus for our shallow, oversharing, materialistic

  • performance July 25, 2019

    Round and Round

    HOW AM I THIS I? So asks composer and playwright Michael R. Jackson’s brazen and brilliant game changer A Strange Loop, a “Big Black and Queer-Ass American Broadway Show” that’s as thrilling and excruciating as having an existential crisis in a hall of mirrors. At its center is Usher (the sublime Larry Owens), who works as an usher in a Broadway theater while struggling to write a self-referential musical called A Strange Loop, about a man named Usher who works as an usher in a Broadway theater while struggling to write a self-referential musical called A Strange Loop. The title, he explains in

  • VEILED MEANING

    SINGULAR BEINGS LIKE THE DANCER, artist, and poet Paul Swan (1883–1972) are best approached with curiosity rather than a firm thesis. Those whose work has fallen out of favor—or whose tastes were out of step with their times—are often burdened with narratives of failure, of irrelevance, which anyone who understands the unpredictable values of art should dismiss outright. As Jack Smith, one of the great reader-recuperators of culture, wrote in his bravura encomium “The Perfect Filmic Appositeness of Maria Montez” (1962–63): “A highly charged idiosyncratic person (in films) is a rare phenomenon

  • performance May 27, 2019

    Nice Troy

    NORMA JEANE BAKER/MARILYN MONROE: a well of sadness/a siren of the silver screen. “War creates two categories of persons,” wrote poet and translator Anne Carson in Norma Jeane Baker of Troy. “Those who outlive it and those who don’t. Both carry wounds.” Stardom also splits one into two—a celebrity, a person—and like war, advances and succeeds on the brute power of the myths that fuel it. (Few have ever pillaged this world defending unadorned fact.) And although it is true that a persona is not a war, it is also true that Norma Jeane didn’t survive the bombshell.

    This is the Nile and I’m a liar.

  • Neke Carson

    A conceptual artist walks into a gallery. He says, “Take my art—please!” When the dealer doesn’t, the artist snaps a picture of him and goes on his merry way. So what’s the punch line of Neke Carson’s Time Wasting Event, for which he documented the four years and ten minutes he spent between 1971 and 1975 fruitlessly showing assorted people his work? On the day he was finally offered a show, at the René Block Gallery, he declared the piece finished, since he would no longer be wasting his time. But seriously, folks, since the late 1960s Carson has created unconventional and ebullient performances,

  • books March 01, 2019

    GHOST IMAGE

    Nearly twenty years ago, artist Adam Putnam came across the photographs of Alfred Cook in the archives of the Frick Collection. Recently, he edited together a selection of Cook’s images for ASMR4, a publishing project Putnam launched in collaboration with fellow artists Dan Torop, Victoria Sambunaris, and Katie Murray. Here, Putnam and Jennifer Krasinski discuss the mysterious Cook, and why these photographs have haunted him for so long.  

    JK: What is known about Alfred Cook?

    AP: Almost nothing. Susan Chore, an archivist at the Frick Collection, sent me as much information as she could find, but

  • Hilma af Klint

    Perhaps more than a painter, Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) was a profound seeker. During her adolescence in her home country of Sweden, she attended séances so that she might commune with the dead. A precocious student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, she deepened her commitment to spiritualism; later, she opened herself to theosophy, Buddhism, and Rosicrucianism, among other teachings. As a young woman, she worked as a scientific illustrator, so dutiful was her attention to nature—her own canvases at that time were rather straightforward portraits and landscapes. But in 1906,

  • interviews December 05, 2018

    Peter Brook

    British director Peter Brook has been a gale force in theater for well over half a century. From his legendary nine-hour adaptation of the ancient Indian war epic, The Mahabharata; to his work with countless acting luminaries such as John Gielgud, Paul Scofield, and Glenda Jackson; to his founding of the International Centre for Theatre Research at the Bouffes du Nord in Paris, France; to his award-winning works for film and television, he has, in essence, devoted his life to mastering the craft of storytelling. Although he is ninety-three, his passion for theater is no less fiery than it has

  • Loosed Threads

    This summer, theater artist Reza Abdoh (1963–1995) was the subject of an ambitious yet fractional survey at MoMA PS1, New York, organized by Negar Azimi, Tiffany Malakooti, and Babak Radboy of Bidoun. In February 2019, a version of this exhibition, produced with Krist Gruijthuijsen, will travel to the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. Here, Artforum senior editor Jennifer Krasinski reflects on Abdoh’s extraordinary body of work, examining the consequences of his—and his productions’—disappearance.

    I MOVED TO NEW YORK in the early 1990s, a gawky young know-nothing, ravenous for the theater and performance and art that I’d read about and heard about in conversations with mentors and elders and others more worldly. (Once upon a time, nothing buffed an artist’s aura quite as brilliantly as hearsay.) But New York in the early ’90s was shattered, multivalent. Here there were heroes, but as many holes—fresh wounds in the world—where heroes once stood. Jack Smith and Cookie Mueller had died in 1989. The following year, Ethyl Eichelberger took his own life rather than suffer the virus.

  • “RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder”

    In the beginning there was The RAMM:ELL:ZEE—not a pseudonym, but an equation that the legendary artist, rapper, philosopher, graffiti writer, and proto-Afrofuturist gave to himself. Why merely name oneself when identity is the result of a mixed-up math, the sum of complex calculations and multidimensional coordinates? God of his own creation myth, the Queens-born Rammellzee waged his first holy war on words, expounding the wild theories he called Gothic Futurism and Ikonoklast Panzerism, dedicated to liberating the alphabet from the corrupting social forces—“the tricknowledgies,” as he once

  • interviews August 30, 2018

    Dennis Cooper

    After his move to Paris from Los Angeles in 2005, writer Dennis Cooper’s words made the leap from the page to the stage and—more recently—to the big screen. Together with his collaborator, director/writer Zac Farley, he has created two films as disquieting and eloquent as the George Miles Cycle, the five novels—Closer, Frisk, Try, Guide, and Period—that brought Cooper acclaim as one of America’s singular and transgressive literary voices. Here, Cooper talks about the genesis of Permanent Green Light, his second feature with Farley, which premieres at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New

  • performance August 01, 2018

    The Material World

    WHEN BASIL TWIST'S SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE debuted in New York in 1998, it quickly ascended as a classic work of downtown theater, playing for an unprecedented eighteen month run in the basement space of HERE—an unheard of success for a performance that was billed simply, curiously, as “an abstract puppet show.” At that time there was nothing quite like it, and twenty years later, a stunning revival proves that there’s nothing quite like it still—frankly because there is no other artist quite like Basil Twist.

    Twist is both a third-generation puppeteer and a third generation Basil (his real name).

  • GRACEFULNESS MUST BE SOUGHT

    IN HE BROUGHT HER HEART BACK IN A BOX, Adrienne Kennedy’s first new play in a decade, the titular heart is a gruesome rumor—one that holds a truth too unwieldy, too excruciating, to be simply received as fact. As one of the most important experimentalists in American theater, the eighty-six-year-old playwright has written twenty-odd works at once cerebral and unhinged, phantasmagoric and lucid, all of which make vivid the brutalities visited by racism on the mind and body of a woman of color. Throughout her work, it is a condition that leaves madness and monsters in its wake.The mind

  • performance December 15, 2017

    The Boy in the Band

    MORGAN BASSICHIS IS A COMPOSER, a comedian, and a cabaret artist (not necessarily in that order). In performance, he plays piano, tells stories, and sings in a voice so honeyed and seductive that audible sighs are sometimes heard coming from the audience at the end of his songs. Lithe as a whippet, with laser beam blue eyes, he carries himself with both the self-deprecation of the comedian, and the self-possession of the diva. “You know I start every day with gratitude,” he zinged at Danspace Project at Saint Mark’s Church in October during a live recording of his forthcoming album, More Protest