Rachel Kushner

  • Jean Vigo, Zéro de conduite (Zero for Conduct), 1933, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 44 minutes.



    The 1986 feature film Landscape Suicide by James Benning was streaming on Criterion last year, and I became mesmerized by it all over again, having seen it only once, many years earlier, in a theater. The title comes from Michael Ondaatje’s novel Coming Through Slaughter and suggests a casual and reckless obliter-ation of history. Benning’s film takes as its subject two people and two landscapes: the depressed high-school student Bernadette Protti, who in 1984 stabbed to death a popular cheerleader in Orinda, an affluent suburb in the Bay Area, and Ed Gein, who committed two

  • Marguerite Duras's Me & Other Writing and Duras/Godard Dialogues

    A certain scene between Marguerite Duras and Susan Sontag, told to me by someone who was friends with both and seated between them while Susan was visiting Paris, goes like this: Duras had just made a new film, and, in keeping with her character, she spoke at Susan in a monologic séance, going on and on about herself, her new film, and critical reactions to her new film. After speaking for most of the occasion they were together, Duras suddenly quieted and seemed to notice Sontag qua Sontag, and not just any old audience to her tirade. “Susan! My goodness. I have only talked and talked, and I

  • Jesse Krimes, Purgatory, 2009, prison-issued soap, newsprint transfer, playing cards, 3 1⁄2 × 2 1⁄2".


    WE CAN ALL AGREE NOW that American prisons are a malignant feature of contemporary life, broadening inequalities, destroying families, worsening racial disparities, and facilitating widespread state-sanctioned premature death, to name just a few of the most obvious iniquities. But inside these prisons, people do find imaginative ways to survive. The institutional culture of incarceration has spawned individual and communal acts of inspired genius—acts credited entirely to people, and not to the prisons where they are forced to live—modalities of making and ways of surviving that involve types

  • Kim Gordon.
    slant March 03, 2020

    What’s Cooking America?

    OUT HERE IN LOS ANGELES, the volunteer army supporting Bernie Sanders has grown into something vast, extraordinarily creative, and superdiverse. Among its cadres of thousands, artist and musician Kim Gordon has rolled up her sleeves to help with phone banking, canvassing door to door, and now, with the help of director Mariko Munro and poet Elaine Kahn (full credits here), she’s got her own cooking show, Cooking with Kim, a new “semiotics” of the kitchen to demonstrate Bernie’s recipe for a better future. If Bruce Connor makes a sandwich, Kim Gordon bakes a cake, whose ingredients include Medicare


    I MET THE PAINTER ALEX BROWN when I moved to New York City from San Francisco in 1996. We were set up on a kind of blind date by friends from his childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, whom I’d known in SF. Among his Iowa friends, Alex had a certain legend attached to him. He’d moved to NYC, played guitar in various seminal hardcore bands (Gorilla Biscuits, Project X, Side by Side), produced a coveted zine called Schism, and almost immediately had an art career after graduating from Parsons.

    “I’ll be wearing a blue anorak,” he said to me on the phone, so I could identify him when we met. We were more

  • Paul Schrader, First Reformed, 2017, 2K video, color, sound, 108 minutes. Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke).

    Rachel Kushner

    PAUL SCHRADER’S First Reformed and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless both feature pretty and guileless young blond women whose bellies swell with new life and who deliver babies, before the end of each film, into worlds that are maps of devastation—though the type of devastation varies slightly, as does the map.

    Loveless takes place in suburban Moscow, where its miserable bourgeois characters live in symptomatic lack, as the title suggests. A divorcing couple bicker over how best to dissolve their life so they can go their separate ways. It’s late autumn, and, as a voice from a radio news program

  • Stan Douglas, Demobilization Suit, 1945, 2010, acrylic on digital C-print, 43 5/8 × 33".

    “Stan Douglas: Interregnum”

    If, per Merleau-Ponty, history “never confesses,” in the work of Stan Douglas it can always be restaged in the hopes of shaking out a few loose truths. For Disco Angola, 2012, Douglas produced fictional photographs of decolonization in 1974–75 Angola and concurrent scenes in an underground disco in New York. His 2013 film Luanda–Kinshasa invited the viewer to lose herself in a re-creation of an epic early-1970s recording session at the famous CBS 30th Street Studio in Manhattan. These works make up the core of this survey, along with a new six-screen film, The Secret

  • Rachel Kushner

    A movement within the Autonomist movement, Italian feminism of the 1970s was both highly intellectual and earthy—a kind of feminism that, on account of its deep roots in philosophy, Marxism, and psychoanalysis, shared little to nothing with American second-wave fare. Among its iconic thinkers—Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Silvia Federici, Leopoldina Fortunati, Carla Lonzi, and Luisa Muraro—Federici in particular has become a crucial figure for young Marxists, political theorists, and a new generation of feminists. Author of Caliban and the Witch (2004), a groundbreaking work on gender

  • Alberto Grifi and Massimo Sarchielli, Anna, 1975, video transferred to 16 mm, black-and-white, sound, 225 minutes. Photo: Cineteca Nazionale/Cineteca di Bologna/Associazione Culturale Alberto Grifi


    “HOSPITALS, PRISONS, AND BARRACKS ARE LIKE THIS. Once you’re in, you’re screwed. . . . You’re sick because you don’t understand their medicine,” says Vincenzo Mazza as he encounters, and diagnoses with astonishing clarity, the repressive nature of life in Italy for a proletarian like himself in the year 1972. He’s a supporting real-life character in a film that primarily features a girl named Anna, whose last name no one seems to remember, or possibly they never knew it to begin with—never mind the fact that she is the point of absolute gravity and star of this nearly four-hour film, which

  • Wade Guyton, Untitled, 2002, ink-jet print on book page, 10 3/8 x 7 3/8".

    “Wade Guyton OS”

    The “OS” in the title of Wade Guyton’s Whitney show this fall stands for “operating system,” and if Guyton’s singular and inimitable practice is less hegemonic than Windows, it is one that has earned him recognition as one of the most influential artists of his generation.

    The “OS” in the title of Wade Guyton’s Whitney show this fall stands for “operating system,” and if Guyton’s singular and inimitable practice—misusing print technology to make drawings and paintings that are sly, slick, and confounding—is less hegemonic than Windows, it is one that has earned him recognition as one of the most influential artists of his generation. This exhibition of approximately ninety works made between 1999 and today will include, in addition to the artist’s iconic printed paintings and works on paper, sculptures (such as his mirrored, stainless-steel

  • Stan Douglas, A Luta Continua, 1974, 2012, color photograph, 47 1/2 x 71 1/4". From the eight-part suite Disco Angola, 2012.


    DISCO ANGOLA HAS A CERTAIN RING, the seeming incongruity of the two words registering as a dark irony and something more specific, a godforsaken watering hole or open-air dance floor in some late-colonial “paradise.” Then again, it could be the name of a New York club meant to suggest such a fantasy of excess. But as the title of a recent body of work by Stan Douglas, the words posit separate histories, those of disco and of Angola in the years 1974 and 1975. Disco in that moment was just emerging as an underground, late-night phenomenon, and Angola was rapidly decolonizing in the wake of

  • Claire Fontaine, Please Come Back, 2007,  white fluorescent tubes, wall mounted or free standing on scaffolding frame, 570 7/8 x 59 1/16".

    Claire Fontaine: Economies

    Claire Fontaine is not just a conspicuously feminine name for an artists’ collaboration.

    Claire Fontaine is not just a conspicuously feminine name for an artists’ collaboration. “She” cannot be mistaken for a woman, because she is already something else: a brand of French notebook, more ready-made than fictional character. Since 2004, Fontaine has, with her Paris-based “assistants,” Fulvia Carnevale and James Thornhill, produced textual and object-based inquiries into the legacies of the left, most explicitly May ’68 and Italian movements of the 1970s, in an almost forensic search for the secret freedoms that might be cultivated under capitalism, a search whose