Manuel Borja-Villel

  • Richard Kennedy, Fubu Fukú, 2020. Performance view, Trauma Bar und Kino, Berlin, July 16, 2020. Richard Kennedy. Photo: Dareos Khalili.

    Where we’re at: Berlin, Rotterdam, Istanbul, Madrid, Turin


    TFW in the middle of the odd Corona Summer, when the club has been closed for months, an artist explodes five centuries of history into an operatic “queer Black retelling of the colonial project from sugarcane to ketamine.” Made possible by Trauma Bar und Kino, which navigated virus guidelines to safely open its subterranean space for two nights, and hosted by New Models (which, full disclosure, I co-run), Richard Kennedy’s Fubu Fukú put five stunning bodies onstage—namely, those of Miss Hollywood, Fernando Casablancas, PK Gyaba, Peter Fonda, and the artist—all fitted with

  • View of “Dark Matter Games,” 2017, S.a.L.E Docks, Venice. From left: Emily Eliza Scott, Art Historians Against Fascism, 2017; Committee Against Big Cruise Ships of Venice, Banner from San Marco’s Tower, 2014. Photo: Veronica Badolin.

    Manuel Borja-Villel

    1 “DARK MATTER GAMES: A SERIES OF ARTISTIC INTERVENTIONS IN VENICE” (S.A.L.E. DOCKS, VENICE) This spring, Venice was trapped between a Biennale that, in an act of desperation, was proclaiming the long life of a living art and of Damien Hirst’s zombie venture. “Dark Matter Games” presented a festival of artistic interventions focusing on the dark matter that, though invisible, constitutes the day-to-day reality of the art world. This reality has a lot to do with the precarious employment and the self-inflicted exploitation suffered by large segments of society and also, in the context of mobile

  • Manuel Borja-Villel


    Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio is one of the greatest Spanish prose stylists of the twentieth century. A mordant but reflective writer, he greeted the immense success of one of his first novels, El Jarama (The River, 1955), with skepticism. Unwilling to be turned into the standard-bearer for his generation, he abandoned fiction for many years and devoted himself first to the study of language and later to cultural and political analysis.

    A well-known consumer of amphetamines, in the 1960s Ferlosio would shut himself away for days on end in his Madrid flat and write profound and erudite

  • Thomas Bayrle’s Euro, 1998, as installed in the Albertinum’s Baselitz Room after Georg Baselitz’s work was removed and returned to the artist at his request, Dresden, Germany, 2015.


    NEOLIBERALISM, a synonym for privatization and the progressive reduction of the public in favor of the private, has become our condition, the social, economic, and political dispensation within which our activities have unfolded in recent decades. Opposed to any type of government interference in the life of citizens, neoliberalism believes utterly in the self-regulation of the market, and it perceives any form of administration by the state to be a stumbling block, an obstacle to economic growth. Nevertheless, reality shows us that this ideology, both in its classic nineteenth-century version

  • T. J. Clark’s Picasso and Truth

    IN 2009, T. J. Clark delivered the fifty-eighth installment of the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Those six talks have now been published under the title Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica, and together they constitute an exemplary lesson in art criticism and the significance of the act of looking.

    In his book, Clark cites various thinkers for whom he feels a special affinity (and whose ideas, he believes, are keys to understanding Picasso’s work). Prominent among them are Nietzsche and Wittgenstein. What attracts him to the latter

  • Antoni Tàpies in his studio in Campins, Catalonia, Spain, November 4, 2002. Photo: Martí Gasull.

    Antoni Tàpies


    ANTONI TÀPIES was one of the most prolific artists of the twentieth century. His vast body of work—which encompasses several thousand paintings, drawings, and sculptures, from the early canvases of the 1940s to the final sketches he produced not long before his death on February 6, at the age of eighty-eight—represents the tireless investigations of an introspective artist who was obsessed with a handful of themes and objects, which he repeated incessantly, and who was, at the same time, engaged in continual experimentation with materials and forms. Perhaps no other

  • Puerta del Sol, Madrid, May 20, 2011. Photo: Arturo Rodríguez/AP.

    Manuel Borja-Villel

    1 Puerta del Sol, Madrid, May 15 Tired of seeing the balance between politics and economics tipped definitively in favor of the latter, and aware that the financial oligarchy determines our fates even more directly than the military-industrial complex did during the Fordist period, a varied multitude occupied the center of Madrid. For more than a month, thousands of people organized themselves in makeshift tents, voiced their demands, and showed the world the need to rethink the basic principles of politics and democracy. The flame of their indignation spread around the world, from Tokyo to New

  • Manuel Borja-Villel

    ALTHOUGH THEY RETAIN THEIR importance in the network of creative industries, as public institutions museums have lost much of their mediatory power and, further, have lost their privileged position in defining what we understand to be culture. This is partly because those who shape the cultural scene most definitively today are prominent figures in communications industries, as well as a diffuse magma of cultural producers, who typically subordinate creative singularity to the selling or expropriation of creative capacity. At the same time, we are immersed in a profound systemic crisis to which