Scene & Herd

  • Dam It

    I HAVE A SOFT SPOT FOR GRITTY CITIES. I don’t mean “like-Berlin-used-to-be-in-the-nineties-(even-though-I-wasn’t-there-then)” gritty, but the kind of place that, unless you were born there, you most likely would never end up in, if not for a specific reason that brought you. Picture a small city—its medieval core (a castle, a cathedral, and quite a few churches) surrounded and disrupted by industrial brick buildings, working-class housing, and banal architecture from the 1980s to the mid-aughts; spread it over the banks of a river (the Shannon, to be precise) in refined shades of grey, but

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  • Don’t Panic!

    DUBAI—THE GREAT DESERT CAPITAL of Starchitecture-on-Speed and the distinct Khaleeji brand of Hypercapitalism-as-Luxury-Entertainment that artists Fatima Al Qadiri and Sophia Al Maria famously dubbed “Gulf Futurism”—is starting to show its age. In an era when every other province has a bargain-bin Zaha Hadid or two, the skyscraper archipelagos and manmade islands just look… well, dated. As theorist and first-time visitor Mi You so pithily put it, “This feels like a Little China.”

    Where once desert sandscapes readily lent themselves to fantasies of Life on Mars, now “the future” has taken on more

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  • The Mori the Merrier

    I’M NOT JAPANESE, but I am from a country—England—where tea drinking is a daily given (“I’ll put the kettle on” follows “Hello” like night follows day). And having grown up in a household where teabags were considered infra dig (it was leaf Earl Grey or nothing), I possess a great deal of sympathy for the idea of turning a simple infusion into a ceremony. So while the closest I usually get to a ritualized procedure may be warming the pot, it makes complete sense to me that something possessed of such restorative power should be treated with veneration. It was with some satisfaction then that I

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  • Star Light, Star Bright

    “CAN YOU MAKE IT DISAPPEAR?”

    Impossible! It is exhibited in a gallery.”

    Yolanda Choy Tang, a former reporter, was talking to a friend who saw her in a Wolfgang Tillmans photograph holding up a microphone in a meat market (Hong Kong TV Reporter, 1993). The photo was part of a solo show at David Zwirner’s new Hong Kong outpost in the H Queen’s Building. “It was twenty-five years ago!,” said Tang to Tillmans, who came to greet her during the vernissage. Tillmans had just finished lecturing the press about making one-of-a-kind images: “Many photographers have a sense of inferiority and feel the need

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  • Talk Therapy

    I’VE DECIDED THAT MY FAVORITE FORM OF TIME TRAVEL is going to the Emirates. From remote-controlled taxi trunks to my astonishingly steep learning curve around identifying objects in the hotel room, the sun-kissed futurity of the Emiratis feels like an overexposed Instagram filter with washed out colors—save for the deep and vibrant blue of the sky. Indeed, visions of luxe, calme, et volupté are to be had on the highway rather than under the scorching sun. You hover through Happiness Street in Dubai in order to reach the Abu Dhabi Highway, where you can tune into thirty-second blurbs about world

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  • What’s New Is New Again

    “IT IS THE SECOND EDITION, but really it feels as though it’s the first,” said Amber Wang, this year’s director of Gallery Weekend Beijing, or GWBJ. She’s eager to break the city’s recently uncharismatic relationship with the art world. And it seems to be working, as enthusiasm abounded across the participating twenty-two galleries in the 798 and Caochangdi arts districts as they welcomed an international crowd of curators, dealers, and collectors who came through, readying themselves for Art Basel Hong Kong. Shanghai is still on the rise, opening new museums and attracting artists fleeing an

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  • Platform Issues

    “IT’S BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES.” So started Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble’s keynote speech at Rhizome’s Ethics and Archiving the Web conference, hosted at the New Museum from March 22 to March 24. Noting that Mark Zuckerberg’s apology over the Cambridge Analytica revelations sounded “like an old boyfriend or lover who’s like, ‘I’m sorry I let you down and I won’t do it again,’” Noble also observed the language of perfection that surrounds technology companies and their supposed mistakes, which are often discussed as glitches, bugs, or viruses that mar “an otherwise perfectly operating

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  • E.A.T. Up!

    ZÜRICH’S KLOTEN AIRPORT WAS VERY BUSY during the last week of January. The snow was unusually abundant, as was the number of security guards deployed to protect the roster of international leaders—including France’s president Emmanuel Macron, President Donald J. Trump of the United States, and the United Kingdom’s prime minister Theresa May—arriving for the World Economic Forum in Davos. But in the village of Klosters, the heartland of British royalty, we boarded trains for Lower Engadin, in the direction of the village of Zuoz, for another illustrious (yet far more artistic) summit called the

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  • Hustle & Ho

    DESPITE HAVING WRITTEN much about sex work itself, I’ve never figured out how to describe the people who perform the labor. “Hoes are the best,” declared the resplendent Ceyenne Doroshow, host of the Sex Workers’ Festival of Resistance, on March 4 at MoMA PS1––that’s one way to do it. The crowd, which, obviously, primarily consisted of self-identified hoes, eagerly agreed, not only because of the sentiment but because Doroshow’s commanding yet candid demeanor makes her every word sound like God’s straight truth. “You can’t really do this work without being a phenomenal motherfucker,” she also

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  • Sans Cowl

    “HERE IN FRONT OF THIS ARCHITECTURAL BLUNDER.” That was the text Marcus Kuiland-Nazario sent me about thirty minutes before our panel was set to begin at this year’s College Art Association Conference. He was referring, of course, to James Ingo Freed’s glass-and-steel entrance portal to the Los Angeles Convention Center, which, frankly, looks like an overscale Apollo space capsule. Like most convention centers, the interior of the LACC is a sequence of immense volumes that are traversed in minutes, rather than seconds. The escalators go up and the escalators go down, but does anyone truly get

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  • Warm Leatherette

    ON FEBRUARY 22 AT PARTICIPANT INC., an entire neighborhood Scruff grid, power lesbians, and Lower East Side art drunks feted Silvia Prada’s Tom, her new book of drawings made in collaboration with the Tom of Finland Foundation and produced by Capricious Publishing. The event unfolded in the gallery’s superb Jayne County painting exhibition (up until March 11). One poncey ayahuasca enthusiast said County’s art looked exactly like his psychedelic ritual visions. Oh, Mary—no.

    With perfectly mid-parted hair, Prada paraded around in an all-white denim ensemble, absorbing compliments about her delicate

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  • Fair and Unfair

    MEXICO CITY’S ZONA MACO has been resting on its laurels for quite a while. The fifteenth edition, which ran from February 7 to February 11, has become, like many art fairs, lethargic—a state that can easily lead to death. Because of this, I’m eager to pinpoint the subtler but more engaging attractions from inside and, of course, outside the fair.

    A satisfyingly loaded point within the supersaturated image carnival that is Zona Maco was its “Sur” section, curated by Brazilian Kiki Mazzucchelli. In this area was Galerie Jerome Poggi’s presentation of Babi Badalov. The artist created banners made

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