Lauren O’Neill-Butler

  • interviews September 06, 2016

    Donna J. Haraway

    From her classic Cyborg Manifesto, first published three decades ago, to her latest arguments about the “Chthulucene,” multispecies feminist theorist Donna J. Haraway is one of our most daring thinkers. A distinguished professor emerita in the history of consciousness department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Haraway has recently published her latest book, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Duke University Press, 2016), which urgently argues for a nonanthropocentric view of climate change and is driven metaphorically and theoretically by the signifier SF—for

  • film August 30, 2016

    Ways of Being

    A SKETCHY INK DRAWING of “Tilda” stands out among other portraits of friends in Bento’s Sketchbook (2011), a Spinoza-inspired tome by the charismatic English critic and artist John Berger. Legend has it that the excommunicated philosopher—and late-in-life optical-lens grinder Baruch, aka Bento—carried sketchbooks with him in Holland, though they were never found after his death. Neither was his Treatise on the Rainbow. (Supposedly he burned it.)

    There’s no mystery about this Tilda, however; the drawing is certainly of the spry actress Swinton, a longtime pal of Berger’s, who tenderly reveals

  • slant July 11, 2016

    Future Tense

    Feelings aren’t facts in Anohni’s debut solo album Hopelessness (2016)—but that doesn’t mean they’re useless. Her eleven new songs speak frankly from the heart and lay a rhythm for direct action. Creating friction with upbeat electronic tempos and chilling lyrics about downbeat issues, Hopelessness has been called a protest album. managing editor Lauren O’Neill-Butler asks the singer for her take.

    Hopelessness seems to suggest that violence shouldn’t be understood or theorized as an abstraction but rather as something increasingly commonplace, a lived reality with an extensive history.

  • “Museum of Stones”

    IT’S IMPOSSIBLE not to imagine a conversation between Isamu Noguchi and Jimmie Durham in “Museum of Stones.” The two artists, while separated by three and a half decades, share a near-mystical affinity for ascetic, stripped-down materials—specifically, rocks. The show, which is accompanied by off-site programming at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and a book featuring portraits of visitors and works within the museum by Tina Barney and Stephen Shore, marks the thirtieth anniversary of Noguchi’s namesake museum. It also fruitfully—and finally—moves beyond the occasional loan to bring

  • picks October 16, 2015

    Agnes Denes

    An ecological jamboree of life and death, Agnes Denes’s The Living Pyramid, 2015, gently slopes up to thirty feet high from a thirty-square-foot base. Thousands of seeds harvested in May have resulted in various grasses, plants, and wildflowers now brimming from the wooden structure, defying any marshaling of order. Soon the shambolic pyramid with its several tons of dirt and florae will be recycled back into the park’s grounds. Yet it’s not an end to the pyramid’s eternal form, which Denes has incorporated into various drawings and sculptures in her free-spirited, genre-defying output over

  • Maria Nordman

    Present. It’s a keyword in Maria Nordman’s oeuvre and a cipher in much of her work. Beginning in the late 1960s, Nordman has designated her works as continuous, signaling the way they are always ongoing; user-driven; focused toward a public, a task, or an “outside of itself,” as Heidegger might have formulated it. A case in point is FILMROOM EAT 1967–PRESENT, the heart of this brisk retrospective-like show (though retrospective seems like the wrong word, and too confining, since each work has a “co-authorial role”—think relational aesthetics avant la lettre).

    For this iteration of the work,

  • slant September 22, 2015

    Freaks and Greeks

    WE JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH. For centuries we’ve compulsively revisited the Ancient Greek myth of Antigone. Nearly every year there seem to be new adaptations, translations, scholarly articles, and various other projects taking up the earliest and most famous variation of her story: Sophokles’s ancient tragedy. Most recently, and following her 2012 comic book Antigonick, poet Anne Carson provided a fresh translation for director Ivo van Hove’s new production of the play, which will soon have its US premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as part of its 2015 Next Wave Festival. Following stops

  • picks September 18, 2015


    Cameron never wanted another gallery show. After Wallace Berman was arrested in 1957 at the Ferus Gallery for showing an “obscene” reproduction of her Untitled (Peyote Vision), 1955—an ink drawing of a fantastical couple copulating—Cameron quit the commercial art scene. Then, as now, rejection is chic. A version of career suicide, Cameron’s bewitching no persisted until her death in 1995. Last year, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, opened her debut museum retrospective, and a sizable version of it has now traveled with the institution’s former director, Jeffrey Deitch, to his newly

  • interviews September 07, 2015

    Thomas Lawson

    Disconnected, Disastrous, Displacement, Disillusionment—many of the titles of Thomas Lawson’s new paintings begin with the prefix dis-. Together, they denote a realm of negation, reversal, removal, and intensification, pulling imagery from common media sources to address questions of attraction and desire that the well-known Los Angeles–based artist discusses below. An exhibition of these uncanny works will run at New York’s Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery from September 12 to October 18, 2015.

    THE SPOOKINESS of representational art always attracts me—pictures that cast a spell on the unwary. I’m

  • performance July 03, 2015

    Sickness and Health

    FOR THREE DAYS IN LATE JUNE, Eiko Otake emerged on Fulton and Broadway. She looked wan and frail: Her face, arms, hands, and feet were painted chalk-white, a yellow kimono clung loosely to her thin frame. She seemed dressed up in disease, like a stain and a plague against the city’s latest picture of health, Fulton Center. The gleaming new subway complex is an efficient symbol of vigorous capital and regrowth after 9/11.

    Carrying a bouquet of dried weeds, Eiko made eye contact with viewers gathered for A Body in a Station, 2014–, and then took in the rest of the midday scene as if she were looking

  • picks June 05, 2015

    Bruce Conner

    Well known for faking his death at least a few times before he died in 2008, Bruce Conner was forty-five when he took on a project to shoot at the nascent San Francisco punk club Mabuhay Gardens for one year. The resultant series of “27 PUNK PHOTOS,” 1978, was originally published in the magazine Search and Destroy, and it’s one of the highlights of this exhibition, which features an array of his gelatin silver prints, collages, drawings, and a film. The show aptly traces his career-long penchant for merging light with shadow, and for finding sensation along the edge—a visual concordance he

  • interviews May 13, 2015

    Yoko Ono

    In December 1971, Yoko Ono famously announced that she was to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The supposed exhibition was, in fact, a conceptual artwork, executed without the participation of the museum itself. This month, though, Ono will open a solo show at MoMA, which will feature her early works on paper, paintings, installations, performances, and audio and instruction pieces. Recently, Ono spoke from her apartment in New York about her unauthorized MoMA exhibition and being asked to realize a show there today, as well as the groundbreaking performances that

  • interviews April 22, 2015

    Joan Jonas

    Born in New York in 1936, Joan Jonas is a pioneer of video and performance art, known for her continuous and seamless merging of cutting-edge technology with historic, ancient, and often ineffable source material. Her latest work, They Come to Us without a Word, 2015, will debut at the US pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. The piece, which Jonas discusses here, incorporates videos, drawings, objects, and sound and extends her investigation into the writings of Halldór Laxness. For more, check out’s video of excerpts from this interview. The fifty-sixth edition of the Venice

  • interviews April 10, 2015

    Simon Dybbroe Møller

    Simon Dybbroe Møller is an artist currently based in New York whose work often takes up what he calls “the weighty architecture of the predigital” and, as he also notes below, “what we used to call nature.” His solo show at New York’s 83 Pitt Street will be on view on April 12, from 5 to 9 PM, and will feature ceramic “shame shields” found in men’s bathrooms, among other works. His upcoming exhibition “Buongiorno Signor Courbet” will run at Francesca Minini Gallery in Milan from May 3 to July 31, 2015.

    ON A CROSS-ATLANTIC FLIGHT, I read Asta Olivia Nordenhof describing a woman taking off her

  • Francesco Vezzoli

    Francesco Vezzoli is an ambitious artist, to be sure. A case in point is the fraught history of his recent exhibition at MoMA PS1: In 2013, the Milan-based artist sought to purchase the ruins of a nineteenth-century southern Italian church, ship the entire thing to New York City, and rebuild the structure in the museum’s courtyard, where he would exhibit his videos. But the dream was not to be: Italian courts, concerned with cultural preservation, intervened and halted the action. Until then, it seemed Vezzoli was unstoppable in achieving his visions of excess.

    Enter “Teatro Romano”: Staged in

  • picks March 13, 2015

    Anicka Yi

    What do women smell like? In her latest solo exhibition, Anicka Yi pushes at the limits of our episteme and provides a whiff. It’s not ready to wear; in fact, it reeks. One hundred women—primarily artists, curators, and critics (full disclosure: I was one)—were swabbed, and the resultant samples have been cultivated here in a moldy petri dish “billboard” that assaults visitors at the entrance to the show. The thriving bacterium, which Yi nurtured with the help of MIT synthetic biologist Tal Danino, is a budding contaminant, a collective, germy growth. A strain from our culture as well as one

  • interviews March 13, 2015

    Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

    Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian was born in Iran in 1924 and is well known for her dazzling approach to geometric abstraction, primarily in the mirror reliefs and drawings she has been making since the 1970s that derive from ornamental elements in traditional Islamic architecture. The first museum retrospective of her work, curated by Suzanne Cotter, was on view at the Serralves Museum in Porto, Portugal, from October 9, 2014 through January 11, 2015 and travels to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York from March 13 to June 3, 2015.

    LAST SPRING, I had a survey exhibition at the Third Line

  • interviews March 04, 2015

    Iman Issa

    Iman Issa is an artist based in Cairo and New York. Her sculptural series “Heritage Studies,” 2015–, which revisits forms drawn from history, will be featured in the Twelfth Sharjah Biennial from March 5 to June 5, 2015. New iterations of this project will also be on view this year in Issa’s solo presentations at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami (April 2 to October 4) and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (May 18 to June 28).

    THIS SERIES started from the feeling that I was coming across elements from the past that resonated with subjects on which I was working at the time. It emerged

  • Yael Bartana

    At once persuasive and complex, Yael Bartana’s films and videos come off as more than mere intellectual exercises. Seeking to directly effect social change, Bartana enlists the services of actors and nonactors alike, whether for documentaries, as in her recent analysis of Finnish identity, True Finn, 2014, or for works that collapse fact and fiction, as in Inferno, 2013. Her latest New York exhibition featured both these videos, which allude, like her previous output, to the various “demographic threats” ongoing in the world; the thorny question of citizenship, of being a body that matters, has

  • picks February 27, 2015

    On Kawara

    A fact lost on most media: “On Kawara—Silence,” the title of the most comprehensive overview to date of the late Conceptualist’s work, is accompanied by a tiny spiral icon, a miniature Guggenheim ramp. Whether didactic, deadpan, or an allusion to the impressive totality of his work (probably all three), the symbol is an idiosyncratic detail the artist desired. Its closest typographic kin, “@,” doesn’t really suffice, even though it aptly lights up the poetically terse, direct address of much of Kawara’s best work, its pre–social media forthrightness. See the postcards to his friends (the “I Got