Jennifer Krasinski

  • Adam Linder and Shahryar Nashat

    CONTEXT MAY NOT BE EVERYTHING, but it is inescapable. And for the New York performance/art world, no context in recent memory was more highly anticipated than the Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio, unveiled as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s celebrated $450 million renovation. The Studio was billed as a “new live space dedicated to performance, music, sound, spoken word, and expanded approaches to the moving image.” That seemed like a lot to relegate to what was revealed to be a modestly sized “state of the art” gallery (standing


    AT THE TOP of Thomas Ostermeier’s History of Violence, the German theater director’s adaptation of Édouard Louis’s 2016 autobiographical novel, three performers clad head to toe in protective hoods and coveralls mark the stage as a crime scene, placing numbered placards at points across the floor. As one begins to dust for fingerprints, another records the procedure on video, live-streaming it in close-up onto a stark white wall looming behind them. Soon, an ominous image of a brush stirring up a cloud of fine powder dissolves into one of falling snow. It is Christmas in Paris and Édouard is

  • picks January 10, 2020

    The Wooster Group

    Negotiating posterity is a weird task for theater artists. Live performance may be impermanent by nature, but there’s limited virtue in being completely lost to time. Which is why this compact yet potent show from the archives of the mighty Wooster Group is so gratifying and compelling: It gives audiences glimpses—both onstage and off—into some of the most essential, influential, and ingenious productions from their nearly fifty-year run as a company.

    Vitrines offer up ephemera for the browsing: performance stills, Playbills, scribbled-in scripts, meticulous set drawings, and correspondence both

  • “Hilma af Klint: Artist, Researcher, Medium”

    Curated by Iris Müller-Westermann and Milena Høgsberg

    That she, a mystic—and a woman, no less—would one day draw record-breaking crowds to stand before her divine abstractions likely would not have surprised Hilma af Klint (1862–1944). “Non-Objectivity will be the religion of the future,” she once declared. Painting, for her, was more than a matter of aesthetics; it was a higher calling. Curators Iris Müller-Westermann and Milena Høgsberg will be the next to tackle af Klint’s prodigious output, filling the whole of the Moderna Museet Malmö with 230 of her works. Those who take the time to pore

  • 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


    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


    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


    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


    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