Molly Nesbit

  • TOMÁS SARACENO

    The Palais de Tokyo will be entirely given over to Tomás Saraceno this fall—enough room, finally, to lay out the true nature of his practice. Forget the question of medium; it is too small. Caught between architecture and sculpture? Not really. Think in plotlines. In the suspense between balloons and spiders, dust particles and scientific collaborations, Saraceno works to cross-limit conditions: He finds his space of operation on the other side, in the air that supports life. He integrates, jumps forward—an action artist—with projects, prototypes, and new music.

  • COSMIST RAYS: THE RISE OF COSMISM

    IF ONLY HE COULD WAKE UP, Nikolai Fedorov would be very surprised. He has gone from being merely an unknown writer; the illegitimate son of a Russian prince; a man drawn back again and again to the stark landscape of the steppes; a minor librarian with a magisterial command of Moscow’s greatest library, the Rumyantsev Museum; a nineteenth-century Russian about whom any number of novels might have been written—he has gone from a life lived in relative obscurity to a place in history. Today, he, Fedorov, is being celebrated as the father of cosmism.

    Cosmism is on the march. Lately it has been

  • Linda Nochlin

    FOR THOSE OF US who knew her, there is no summing up Linda Nochlin. Where to start? With “Matisse Swan Self” (the title of the poem she wrote about a drawing of a swan Matisse made the year she was born)? With the Royal Portal of Chartres (the subject of a lecture that Adolf Katzenellenbogen gave one day to the students at Vassar, where Linda went to college, and where the Portal and the doors of art history opened for her)? Or with her recipe for meat loaf? The pink lemonade promised by the Utopian Charles Fourier? All these things mattered to her, but many other things did as well—her

  • Philippe Parreno

    Philippe Parreno will bring the Park Avenue Armory back to life as a hydra-headed Gesamtkunstwerk gamelan. It will rise like the summer wind and swell with dream and dance, impulse and pulse. Parreno, the keeper of the beats, will be on hand to play his meta-instrument forward. No loops. Some films will be set in motion—they include Marilyn (2012), Invisibleboy (2010), Anywhere Out of the World (2000), and a new work made in New York. Twenty-five movie marquees will blink back in the darkness. Tino Sehgal’s reanimation Ann Lee, 2011, will walk up

  • CLOSE-UP: NORTHERN LIGHT

    WHEN ARTFORUM WAS BEING BORN some fifty years ago, it was not uncommon for artists themselves to write. “Before he became a painter,” Lucy Lippard explained in 1970, “[Lawrence] Weiner was a poet. He no longer writes, but his book, Statements, published by Seth Siegelaub in 1968, presents his work in a form generally associated with poetry––a single phrase per page, with blank facing page, no punctuation, and such eccentric, nonhyphenated word breaks as f/rom, st/andard, pressur/e.” These lines anchored an essay titled “Art Within the Arctic Circle,” which she included in her book Changing the

  • the best books of the year

    Twelve scholars, critics, and artists choose the year's outstanding titles.

    YVE-ALAIN BOIS

    A book like Alastair Wright’s Matisse and the Subject of Modernism (Princeton University Press) is enough to rekindle my faith in the future of art history as a discipline. (Here I could also mention two other such rare pearls from 2005: Maria Gough’s The Artist as Producer: Russian Constructivism in Revolution [University of California Press] and Christina Kiaer’s Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism [MIT Press]). The first amazing trait of Wright’s book is that it manages

  • BRIGHT LIGHT, BIG CITY: THE ’80s WITHOUT WALLS

    In Buffalo, in art school, Cindy Sherman sat down in a photo booth and gave the camera a look. She came up under Lucille Ball’s face so successfully that her own face subsided. Most people her age were swimming in another direction, preferring the pond of their own nonconformity. Hers was a different, though still contrary position: The negative of your negative is my Lucy. This idea had led her first toward elaborately unpredictable appearances at parties. Her boyfriend, the artist Robert Longo, suggested she combine them with her work. Was he proposing an imitation of life? The two of them

  • BEST OF THE ’90s: BOOKS

    Homi K. Bhabha: The times are out of joint, perhaps never more so than when we are seduced by that decade-end desire to say, One last time, what was the great work of the ’90s? The ’90s began in the late late ’80s with the big bang of The Satanic Verses, and the decade dribbles on with small arms sniping around an elephant-dung madonna. In between times, we realize how powerful is the appeal to religious orthodoxy; how insecure our sense of the secular; how fragile any idea of global cultural understanding; how the politics of art rarely lies in the artifice itself, but all around it, in the

  • HOUSE PLAY: REM KOOLHAAS

    Rem Koolhaas is identified with an architecture that addresses the city, or as he would say, bigness. He is probably better known to the art world for S, M, L, XL (1995), the fat brilliant book he did with Bruce Mau. Koolhaas is an architect much admired for his thinking, one about whom one speaks dramatically and justifiably of great buildings not built (the TGB in Paris, the ZKM in Karlsruhe, the MoMA in New York). But he and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) are anything but paper architects. If their finished buildings seem obscure to Americans, it is because there are none for

  • Arturo Schwarz

    ARTURO SCHWARZ CAN be happy. His relation to Marcel Duchamp has by now become a permanent part of the artist’s story. His own account of Duchamp’s life and work, which made its initial appearance with the first edition of this book in 1969, is another, much more controversial, less joyous matter, but Schwarz has already received his criticism, wears it as a badge, and grandly, even proudly, gives us virtually the same account again. Anyone who cares at all about Duchamp’s work will be happy, too, for the appearance of the new edition of his long-out-of-print Duchamp catalogue raisonné. Expanded

  • Les Cases Conjugèes: Hommage à Teeny Duchamp

    Teeny Duchamp died peacefully, not quite ninety, ever the lady, at home in Villiers-sous-Grèz on the Wednesday before Christmas. She will be much missed by those who knew her. For those who never had the chance, something of her light could still be seen last spring in this small but elegant homage at the Jeu de Paume, which was conceived by Daniel Abadie, curated by Olivier Grasser, and realized with the help of Teeny’s daughter, Jacqueline Monnier-Matisse. The show consisted simply of portrait photographs, chess sets and memorabilia, a large drawing of Teeny by Henri Matisse (the father of

  • Chris Marker

    Some purists rue the monkeys in Terry Gilliam’s new film, but none of them complain about seeing Chris Marker’s name again in theaters (Twelve Monkeys having been inspired by La Jetée). Marker, with Godard, one of the grand old men of revolutionary film in France, has been missed. Missing the slash La Jetée, 1962, froze in the mind, staying close, mesmerized—by Sans Soleil, 1982, wondering what he was doing, for such a man does not completely leave or go idle, even at night. Not knowing that Marker has in recent years been using video on his travels. He returns, as always, with even more

  • HIS COMMON SENSE: MARCEL DUCHAMP

    CAN YOU MAKE a thing have common sense?

    Is this the best question?

    If common sense has a form, it must be shown; if it is a sign of consensus, there must Be some agreement; if it is a solid meaning, is it a reference, like an object or a concept?

    Common sense is not something that we know, only something that we think we know or thought we had.

    A green and yellow basket.

    A-tisket.

    A-tasket.

    “Can one make works that are not «[works] of art»?”1

    Duchamp is speaking or, rather, writing himself a note, an early one for the Large Glass (1915-23). A defining note that many have brushed by, ignored in favor of

  • CRITICAL REFLECTIONS

    IT IS MY PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE Jonathan Crary, a quiet intelligence who comes with many accomplishments, Guggenheim fellow, a member of the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, a founding editor of Zone, teacher first of visual art at the University of California at San Diego and now of art history at Columbia, before all that a photographer, though credentials say little about his thoughts, which return repeatedly to parse other things—more generally speaking, the odd physical politics of knowledge itself. Orders of things catch the intelligence and Crary responds, or would it be better to say, he reacts?
     
    Techniques of the Observer, his first book, took modern knowledge to be physical, an effect of sensation. It did not however try to make knowledge itself sensational, no, the quiet intelligence prefers to hammer Goethe into afterimages, truth into flight. He shows what knowledge has felt like, not just what it feels like, shows that feelings change, and shows feelings to have objective attachments.
     
    Crary is the historian-philosopher of our spectacle-lives. He writes in two directions mainly. One of them toward a present: out of the prehistory of the Debordian spectacle, where capital was accumulated to the point where it became images and attention was identified, turned, surreptitiously tunneled. And then he writes another way, toward a future: moving quickly to catch a different spectacle, call it cyberspaced, where images will have to lose their surfaces and acquire dimensions if they are to have any authority or magnetism or life at all. (The same will be true for us.)
     
    In any case, the quiet intelligence writes about the politics outside words as well as names. These are arguments based upon the assumption that those politics exist in durée and that they will continue and that we might be able to feel them too in our eyes and minds and bones.
     
    —MOLLY NESBIT

    For all the claims that our contemporary technological culture constitutes a decisive exceeding of modernity, it is striking how much critical writing on virtual reality, cyberspace, and interactive computer networks is riddled with enduring myths of modernization. In particular, there continues to be a powerful and reciprocal relation between discourses on technology and themes of universality and emancipation, and this is especially so in work that seeks to dramatize how epochal cultural shifts are driven by technological “revolutions.” Even analyses of the most local and subjective technological

  • His Lash

    SEEING-AS: HAIR.

    Miró’s line was thick in the early years, especially if he was painting away from Paris. Shouldn’t be called simply line. Was itself a figure.

    Its connection to the ground however was tangential. It sat on it, like a feather, albeit with resilience, more like a sleeping duck: the line of ink, crayon, pencil, physically different from its neighbor paint, web-footed, hovering on flow, like scum? Aragon said that it was as if he hadn’t really painted, as if the canvas below had once been the painting, making Miró’s mark an alien, late-coming something-else.1 True enough. And yet this

  • Marcel Duchamp’s Étant donnés

    AFFECT BEING THAT which keeps you there, that which never really becomes an object’s property or adornment, what then can it mean to hear why a work of art has stuck in the mud of another’s mind? I would never expect my affects to be yours.

    To be kept, as am I, by the Étant donnés is to be affected by something invisible. Remember saying to Teeny I’d like to write about the Étant donnés but wasn’t old enough and her saying to me I know what you mean. Affect keeps one waiting, aging, open.

    And happy. With time one sees that one has not been kept waiting for answers. For what, then?

    This is not an

  • APART WITHOUT A FACE: ORLANDO AND THE CRYING GAME

    Yet already he concludes, before the kaleidoscope of her expressions, before this face that from being all surface, smooth and waxed, passed to an almost fluid state of translucid gaiety and from the chiselled polish of an opal to the feverish black-red congestion of a cyclamen, that the Name is an example of a barbarous society’s primitivism, and as conventionally inadequate as “Homer” or “sea.”

    —Samuel Beckett, Proust, 1957

    What kind of part is Orlando?

    Virginia Woolf wrote Orlando in the fall of 1927 and finished it off that next March. It was Vita, she said to her diary, “Orlando: Vita”; others

  • HISTORY OF THE SUBURBS: A PROJECT FOR ARTFORUM

    MOLLY NESBIT

    MORTAL THOUGHTS NOW, PLEASE, the smaller things, spores, not the drone of ideas in the abstract, lives. Chase after them, the lost attentions, slack. Words will fail you. Well they should. Because faded glamour will no longer quite do, monograms slipping off handkerchiefs, lipstick off lips. Pool of feeling? puddle.

    ÉCRITURE

    a cry

    Even the noblest ideas dissipate in dirt. And yet the enlightened mind’s dear decrepit certainties can be turned over yes like some old tortoise shell, belly examined poked. Specter and hollow suggest ideas too and bring us back trudging to gaze upon heavy,