Lauren O’Neill-Butler

  • Lauretta Vinciarelli, Orange Silence, 2000, three watercolor-on-paper works, each 22 × 15".

    Lauretta Vinciarelli

    Solace. That’s the word that kept coming to mind as I looked at Lauretta Vinciarelli’s exacting watercolor-and-ink studies of light, space, and reflection, after not having seen art in person for six months due to the Covid-19 closures. This exquisite exhibition focused on the artist and architect’s mature production between 1984 and 2002, before her untimely death in 2011 at age sixty-eight. It seemed to pick up right where the last Vinciarelli show—at New York’s Judd Foundation in 2019—left off. That presentation surveyed her output from the years 1976 to 1986, when she was romantically involved

  • Marwa Arsanios, Have you ever killed a bear? or Becoming Jamila, 2013–14, HD video, color, sound, 25 minutes. From “Nine Lives,” 2020, Renaissance Society, Chicago.


    THEY SAY WE’RE STRONGER TOGETHER. That we’re the most important political force in the nation. That feminism is the future. What would it take to make these platitudes—touchstones from August’s Democratic National Convention—meaningful during a complete economic and social catastrophe and under a pandemic that has all but extinguished any faith left in already attenuated notions of universality and progress?

    Conceived in the wake of the 2017 Women’s March, the Feminist Art Coalition is a call to action that encompasses climate change, decolonization, racial justice, Indigenous struggles, diasporic

  • Sue Coe, Stamped Out, 2020, linocut with hand-coloring on paper, 10 3/8 × 8 1/2".


    “THIS IS THE BELLY OF THE PROVERBIAL BEAST,  and apologies to all beasts: a culture tearing at its economic seams.” That was Sue Coe in 2018, during a video interview for I had asked her about current conditions in the United States—and about this feeling I had of the ground falling away beneath me. Two years later, those seams have ripped wide open, and Coe has responded with characteristic intensity. For more than four decades, her art has raged for animal rights and social justice—for the “people on the front lines,” as she put it to me. Her signature high-contrast output has

  • Screenshot of American Artist’s Looted, 2020–. Online project.

    American Artist

    “Should the theft of sneakers and computers, or shattered windows, graffiti, or broken locks become our obsession when black people are being killed before our eyes, when the police are bashing the heads of protesters and tear-gassing people during a viral pandemic that can cause respiratory illness?” This question, posed by historian Robin D. G. Kelley in a June 2020 op-ed for the New York Times, cut straight to the meaning of the word loot. The title of the essay was written as a question: “What Kind of Society Values Property over Black Lives?” The answer: American. Yet we might have (finally)

  • Robert Gober, Hanging Man/Sleeping Man, 1989, silk screen on paper, 85 1⁄2 × 29 1⁄2".

    Robert Gober

    It took a pandemic for dreaming to become a common concern again. But Robert Gober never lost interest. For nearly four decades, his art has mined the movement from consciousness to the unconscious and back again, giving us a novel thought landscape: wax objects sprouting a fine layer of human hair, sinks sans faucets, and uncannily detailed sculptures of domestic items. Examples of each were included in this online survey of twenty works, made between 1976 and 2019, alongside related content. At the top of the site was the chimeric Death Mask, 2008, a ten-inch-high plaster amalgamation of the

  • Hudson Marquez and Chip Lord pose in front of the TVTV Media Van.
    film August 24, 2020

    Air America

    THE SAN FRANCISCO–BASED media collective Top Value Television (TVTV) was a bunch of “braless, blue-jeaned video freaks,” per Newsweek, who did what other news outlets didn’t. By producing several iconoclastic documentaries on politics and culture in the 1970s, they spearheaded a global movement of independent video, broadcasting the first tapes of this kind across US networks. They belonged to a critical group of video guerrillas, championing citizen journalism through cutting-edge consumer tech: the Sony Portapak, which was groundbreaking in those years for its “lightweight” twenty-five-pound

  • Paulina Peavy and Lacamo, Untitled, ca. 1945–ca. 1980, oil on board, 72 × 48".

    Paulina Peavy and Lacamo

    Paulina Peavy (1901–1999), an artist who witnessed nearly a century of culture flash before her eyes, was hardly recognized in her lifetime for her abstractions. Perhaps that’s because she never conformed to reigning styles and instead remained devoted to her own inner voice—or, rather, a voice from a higher dimension. Nearly all of Peavy’s works were made in collaboration with a nonhuman entity named Lacamo. She often channeled this “ghost spirit” while wearing magnificently jeweled masks that she designed, several of which held court in the back room of the Andrew Edlin Gallery this fall. The

  • Ebony G. Patterson, …three kings weep..., 2018, three-channel digital video, color, sound, 8 minutes 34 seconds.
    interviews October 04, 2019

    Ebony G. Patterson

    Ebony G. Patterson’s slow and monumental video installation …three kings weep…, 2018, debuted in her solo exhibition at Pérez Art Museum Miami last year and is on view at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, until January 5, 2020, before it travels to the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, North Carolina. For one night only, the work can also be seen in Toronto during “Nuit Blanche,” a twelve-hour event on October 5, 2019, where visitors can glimpse nearly ninety artworks set around the city. (Patterson’s work will be on view in the Scarborough Civic Centre’s rotunda as part of the group


    ASHES TO ASHES . . . Before the recent wave of disquisitions on our planet’s impending demise, there was Agnes Denes’s Book of Dust: The Beginning and the End of Time and Thereafter (1989). A heavily researched investigation of the death of all matter, written between 1972 and 1987, the book is full of passages that ring clear as a bell today, none more so than this:

    The paradoxes of our existence: alienation in togetherness, uniformity in specialization, illusions of freedom in group mentality, ignorance in the midst of information overload, greed in the face of neglect, self-aggrandizement in
  • A flag by Kiki Smith.
    diary June 26, 2019

    Blood Moon

    THE ISLAND PROCESSION began around 8 PM on a muggy night. A long queue of people ceremoniously walked—there are no cars here, only mules for transport—from the old town that hugs a crescent-shaped harbor up a steep, craggy road. After passing olive, pine, and cypress trees, and whitewashed buildings creeping up the cliffs, everyone arrived at a small structure overlooking the sea, with wind-whipped flags under a Sagittarius full moon.

    This is where Kiki Smith unveiled her winsome show “Memory,” for Dakis Joannou’s Deste Foundation project, in a small, erstwhile abattoir on the Aegean Sea. It was

  • Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, Ayoucha, Cairo, 1842–43, daguerreotype, 3 3⁄4 × 4 3⁄4".

    “Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey”

    In many ways, this was a stunning show of firsts. It was the US debut of Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey’s iridescent daguerreotypes, gathering 120 of the earliest images of the Eastern Mediterranean, shot between 1842 and 1845. (Louis Daguerre introduced his groundbreaking photographic process only a few years before these pictures were taken, in 1839.) The images tracked the Frenchman’s voyage and his desire to document Islamic architecture, while also capturing the effects of all types of upheaval—for instance in his pictures of the Parthenon in Athens with its destroyed mosque and its

  • View of “Helène Aylon,” 2019. From left: Drifting Pink, 1970; Whirling White, 1971; Brazen White, 1972; Laden White, 1970. Photo: Jeffrey Sturges.

    Helène Aylon

    In 1963, two years after Helène Fisch (née Greenfield) became widowed at age thirty, she was painting a mural for a community center when a newspaper reporter asked for her name. Spontaneously, she replied, “Helène Aylon,” offering a shortened Hebraic version of her first name for her last. This creation story is untold in the artist’s various exhibition reviews from the 1960s and ’70s, but I find it central to her often self-mythologizing work. Also essential: In those high and hard times, Aylon was raising her two children alone, struggling to be both an artist and a mother. But by 1970 she