Lauren O’Neill-Butler

  • View of Batia Suter’s “Radial Grammar,” 2018.
    picks July 17, 2018

    Batia Suter

    “Ghost stories for adults.” That was Aby Warburg’s summation of his celebrated atmospheric atlas of found pictures, his “Mnemosyne,” 1924–29, and it’s a label I’ve always loved. But who doesn’t love Warburg? Batia Suter’s photographic work certainly feels like a tribute. For many years, the Amsterdam-based artist has similarly sourced images from diverse reserves—antiquarian bookstores to flea markets. She then constructs an intuitive edit from her vast troves, creating collections loosely based on her discoveries of themes and visual characteristics. Her meticulous bricolage often educes

  • John Akomfrah, Expeditions 1 – Signs of Empire, 1983, single-channel 35-mm color Ektachrome slides transferred to video, color, sound, 26 minutes. Courtesy Lisson Gallery. © Smoking Dogs Films.
    interviews July 16, 2018

    John Akomfrah

    The London-based artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah has three solo exhibitions on view in the United States this summer: “Signs of Empire,” his largest US survey to date, is at the New Museum in New York through September 2, 2018; “Sublime Seas” is on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art through September 16, 2018; and “Precarity” is at the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, North Carolina, until September 2, 2018. Below, Akomfrah discusses his embrace of collage and the digital, and the timely thread of migration that runs throughout his work.

    THE STRANGE THING about having three shows

  • View of “Rockwell, Roosevelt, and the Four Freedoms,” 2018.
    picks June 25, 2018

    “Rockwell, Roosevelt, and the Four Freedoms”

    On Juneteenth, Nikki Haley declared that the United States had left the UN Human Rights Council. You could see it coming. But to do it on that particular day, under the supercilious rationale that the HRC wasn’t “worth its name” because it has members “like China, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Venezuela,” only served to underscore the US’s own past and present of slavery and torture, of cruelly separating parents and children.

    The still-emerging political project of human rights has been unfortunately stained by imperialist impulses, power-mongering, and greed. That truth quietly

  • View of “Lynda Benglis,” 2018, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. © Lynda Benglis/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
    interviews June 08, 2018

    Lynda Benglis

    Lynda Benglis was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1941 and arrived in New York shortly after graduating from Newcomb College in New Orleans. Then, as now, her visceral approach to viscous materials and mediums is singular and timeless. Here, Benglis shares key episodes from her life. An exhibition of her works dating from 1979 to 2017 is currently on view at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York until June 16, 2018.

    WHEN I MOVED TO NEW YORK IN 1964, there were race riots going on in Harlem. I attended the Brooklyn Museum Art School, and there I met a Scotsman named Gordon Hart. We both had arrived

  • Paul Bonet, untitled, no date, China ink, printer’s ink, pencil, and die-stamp impressed on paper, five parts, dimensions variable.
    picks June 03, 2018

    Paul Bonet

    Cartonnage is a term that denotes a material the ancient Egyptians used for their funerary masks and sarcophagi—layers of linen or papyrus mixed with plaster to protect the bodies of the hallowed deceased. In the (much) later invention of French bookbinding, cartonnage became a method of trussing precious pages. Across both traditions, embellishments and other graphic elements were added. These serial sets of symbols often pulse with aesthetic pleasures, which we know from studying the repetitious ciphers of early civilizations. The same kind of “reading” happens in this astounding exhibition

  • Elaine Reichek, Toutes les filles (All the Girls), 2016–17, hand embroidery on linen, 50 1/2 x 79".
    interviews April 10, 2018

    Elaine Reichek

    Everything old is new again, and vice versa. Elaine Reichek is a New York–born and –bred artist who has long engaged with some of the women of ancient Greek myths in her works, often via hand embroidery and digital sewing. Her latest exhibition, “Now If I Had Been Writing This Story,” which takes its title from a poem by Stevie Smith, features ten works from the past eleven years and is on view at the Secession in Vienna from April 13 to June 3, 2018.

    FOR THIS SHOW, I wanted to spotlight part of a long ongoing body of work. It consists of two series: “Ariadne’s Thread” and “Minoan Girls.” They’re

  • From the cover of Lorrie Moore’s See What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary (2018).
    books April 06, 2018

    Moore Is More

    Written over a period of thirty-four years, mostly on the spur of assignments from various magazines, Lorrie Moore’s new book of collected non-fiction, See What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary (Knopf, 2018), gathers together sixty-six articles that all sparkle with the same inimitable intellect one finds in her best-selling fiction. We recently spoke about the factors motivating her to write about books, politics, and prestige television, and what was gleaned from republishing her ideas. –Lauren O’Neill-Butler

    LOB: In your latest book, you tackle such an expansive constellation of

  • View of “Catherine Christer Hennix: Traversée du Fantasme,” 2018. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
    interviews March 14, 2018

    Catherine Christer Hennix

    Polymath artist Catherine Christer Hennix is known for her groundbreaking compositions, including The Electric Harpsichord, 1976, and Central Palace Music, 1976. A retrospective of Hennix’s visual work at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, curated by the museum’s curator Karen Archey and Blank Forms artistic director Lawrence Kumpf, is also currently on view through May 27, 2018. Here, Hennix discusses the exhibition and a recent performance (on February 16 and 17, 2018) that melded her mathematical interests with traditional practices of sustained pitches in just intonation.

    FOR THE PERFORMANCE of

  • Kay Rosen, Triumph Over Trump (Blue Over Yellow), 2017, Acryla gouache on watercolor paper, 22 1/2 x 30 1/2”.
    picks March 09, 2018

    Kay Rosen

    A deranged band of outlaws has taken over the US administration, and this is increasingly the case all over the world. Their collective nihilism is the reigning new world disorder. So how about some fun to counter their skeptical notions of truth, a little humor to keep us afloat while they propagate alternative facts, and some of our word games? For nearly five decades, Kay Rosen’s work has tested the limits of language, and her latest exhibition continues this by gathering recent pieces that walk a fine line between protest paraphernalia and linguistic innovation—the invention and introduction

  • Mirtha Dermisache, Untitled (Letter), 1970, ink on paper, 11 x 9".

    Mirtha Dermisache

    Mirtha Dermisache’s artist’s books and myriad works on paper all sparkle with the suggestion of glyphs and characters that we might be able to discern if we only had the right key to crack their code. Yet, ultimately, none are legible. The under-known Argentinian artist, who passed away in 2012, always referred to her pieces as “writings.” Does it matter if we can’t read them?

    Dermisache titled and grouped her works according to their easily recognizable format—Text,  Book,  Letter, Sentence, and so forth—and all play with the architecture of language through invented lexical and

  • Ravi Coltrane, Dezron Douglas, and Brandee Younger. Photo by Derek Schultz.
    music February 21, 2018

    Glissando Through the Blues

    MORE THAN A FEW ASPECTS of Alice Coltrane’s life and music stand out as singular, epic, genius—and, sometimes equally, tragic. Her husband, John, passed away from liver cancer in 1967, and as a widow at just twenty-nine she raised their four children on her own, never remarrying. Throughout, she maintained a brilliant and groundbreaking solo music career. I could go on. She’s the kind of inspiring person we need to keep celebrating, and so we do.

    The Coltranes were wedded in 1965 in Juárez, Mexico, and their short time together looks, on the surface of things, as if it were pretty blissful. At

  • Patty Chang, Configurations (Bread), 2017, ink-jet print, 28 x 40''.
    picks January 12, 2018

    Patty Chang

    For more than twenty years, Patty Chang has consistently put her body on the line. From her early Riot Grrrl–tinged performances and videos to her later filmic investigations, she’s always been in her work, and not just via some dreary collapse of art and everyday life. I mean, in it—exposed but viscerally aware of her vulnerability. This ethics infuses her output with a buoyancy, even while she throws anchors into deep, murky waters. It’s certainly the case in her current retrospective, which weaves together various pieces from her epic eight-year multimedia project, The Wandering Lake,