Zack Hatfield

  • picks April 07, 2021

    Sanou Oumar

    Enlivening the malnourished optic nerve, Sanou Oumar’s eleven laborious pen-and-paperboard works mingle tantric designs, hard-edge abstraction, and vibrant adornment in items of selfless concentration. Improvising in the manner of a doodle, the Burkina Faso–born artist often traces nearby objects—his ID card, clothing tags, a floss pick—to find his shapes, encrypting the ordinary into percepts of cosmic equipoise often reminiscent of Buddhist sand mandalas or gothic cathedral windows. See 8/23/20 (all works cited, 2020) in which a circular screen, patterned with scrolling orange tendrils,

  • Luigi Ghirri

    Among the millions of lives changed upon seeing astronaut William Anders’s 1968 Earthrise image was that of a young Italian land surveyor. “It was a picture of the world, and it contained all the pictures in the world at the same time,” Luigi Ghirri (1943–1992) later recalled of the photograph, taken on Christmas Eve from Apollo 8. Ghirri began his career as a photographer and photography critic shortly after this moment, alongside (though apart from) a cohort of Americans in the 1970s—William Eggleston, Richard Misrach, and Stephen Shore among them—who squired the unseemly, commercially tainted

  • film January 25, 2021

    Passion Play

    LARISA SHEPITKO began work on The Ascent (1977) when she was recovering from a severe spinal injury and pregnant, seized by an afflatus of fear. “I was facing death for the first time,” the Ukrainian director told an interviewer in June 1979. “Like anyone in such a situation, I was looking for my own formula of immortality.” In doing so, she reached for one of the most immortal tales ever told, transposing the Passion of Jesus to the freezing hinterland of Nazi-occupied Belorussia. A Dostoevskian psychodrama of sacrifice and betrayal, The Ascent is her most visually accomplished film, her

  • Frank Jones

    Frank Jones was born in 1900 in Clarksville, Texas, with a flap of fetal membrane over his left eye—an omen that, according to a superstition descended from African folklore, allowed him to see into the spirit world. It was only three years earlier that W. E. B. Du Bois had invoked this supernatural “second sight” when introducing his famous concept of double consciousness—a condition of irreconcilable identities experienced by Black Americans in a white supremacist society. Jones bore the brunt of this oppression: The progeny of enslaved cotton pickers and likely an undiagnosed schizophrenic,

  • interviews October 19, 2020

    Tuan Andrew Nguyen

    Tuan Andrew Nguyen has in recent years emerged as a maker of hybrid films that conjure national memories of displacement like magic spells, their layered narratives exerting a mesmeric pull on characters and viewers alike. The artist’s latest work, Crimes of Solidarity, debuted earlier this month in Marseille as part of the nomadic Manifesta biennial, which recently concluded a staggered six-week opening across as many landmark venues (all installations will remain on view through November 29). Produced remotely in collaboration with asylum-seekers who founded the city’s Squat Saint-Just, Crimes

  • Giorgio Griffa

    Giorgio Griffa is known for leaving his paintings in states of perpetual incompletion, as though the sheer act of creating something had inspired him to immediately stop and make something else. When “finished,” these works—rapturously hued orchestrations on unstretched swaths of jute, hemp, and linen—are folded up and stacked away in the artist’s Turin atelier, which he has occupied for decades. The weight of so many canvases on top of each other causes them to be permanently creased. When a painting is unfolded, evidence of time’s passage is literally embossed into its surface. Each one is a

  • picks July 31, 2020

    Michael Buthe

    Richter, Polke, Kiefer. . . Why not Buthe? Though he shared their protean quest to reinvent the role of the German artist, Michael Buthe’s star, fast-rising and once dazzling, has faded considerably over the years. Perhaps it’s because his greatest triumph—his eccentric mystique, which the artist worked hard at cultivating and lavished upon his ephemeral, room-size exhibition-environments—is so difficult to summon today without Buthe himself, who died in 1994 at the age of fifty. As he said, “There is no art, only life.” This small survey—a reversal of that claim—makes a case for a complicated

  • CLOSE-UP: AMERICAN IDLE

    PEOPLE IN MOTION. This was General Motors’ slogan when Sherria and Jason Duncan were hired at the company’s factory on the edge of Lordstown, Ohio, around the turn of the millennium. Sherria’s mother, Waldine Arrington, retired from the assembly plant in 2004 and now helps care for her granddaughter Olivia. A recent photograph finds the four of them at a bare kitchen table, frozen: Sherria and Waldine sit side by side, while Jason, hands clasped, hunches across from Olivia. In profile, the child meets her father’s tired gaze; the two women look directly at the viewer. The sight lines form a

  • interviews June 08, 2020

    Dread Scott

    For over three decades, Dread Scott has made art that confronts state-sanctioned brutality and racial injustice while imagining revolution. His 2015 flag, A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday—a declaration of memorial immensity and stark prolepsis—remains an emblem of the United States’ foundational and ongoing violence against Black people: violence now being challenged as millions take to the streets nationwide in a staggering response to George Floyd’s killing. Below, Scott discusses his past and recent work, art institutions’ response to the current uprisings, and the radical possibility

  • Troy Brauntuch

    Dreadful visions can yield beautiful afterimages, as confirmed by the art of Troy Brauntuch. For more than four decades, the artist has produced spectral, infrathin pictures qua pictures: works that are unremittingly oblique but unswerving in their associations with human cruelty. His career launched in 1977 with the epochal five-person “Pictures” exhibition at Artists Space in New York, where he showed silk-screened and lithographic reproductions of drawings by the Führer—renderings of a tank, an opera set—sans context. Such wiles typified the “Pictures” cohort, who picked apart the delusive

  • interviews March 15, 2020

    Cao Fei

    For millions of lives, the novel coronavirus currently rocking the globe has induced a secession from “real” to virtual space, where ubiquitous “social distancing” mandates are simultaneously heeded and safely transgressed. Who better to speak to this moment—gravid with apocalyptic and utopian frisson—than Cao Fei? The Beijing-based artist has devoted her practice to addressing social upheavals and breakneck urbanization through virtual, augmented, and mixed realities that chart new capacities for alienation and love. Here, she discusses “Blueprints,” a multimedia exhibition at Serpentine

  • Suzy Lake

    One of the first things Suzy Lake did after moving to Montreal in 1968 from her native Detroit—a city whose fiery upheavals had recently jolted her into political consciousness—was enroll in mime school at the Théâtre de Quat’Sous. Miming proved a formative education for Lake, who learned to manage both the dramas of various personae and, one supposes, the constraints of muteness inherent in a photographic subject. Crucially, the course also tutored her in the eradicative powers of whiteface, adopted throughout her practice as a “point of nothing.” From there, she embarked on her conceptually