COLUMNS

  • Play Safe

    THE WARDROBE OF SMALL TALK must be continually refreshed; this year, during Shanghai’s unofficial art week, the once voguish ice-breaker of comparing Shanghai to Beijing proved suddenly démodé. China’s capital came up only once during a dinner with artists Margaret Lee and Allison Katz; Margaret had just returned from a trip there, while Allison was anticipating her first visit. Symbolically, Beijing-based Philip Tinari didn’t come to Shanghai. Despite his sensible reasoning (“to attend the opening of the China show at SF MoMA and the David Diao catalogue launch in New York,” he told me two

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  • Italian Feast

    FOR TWENTY-FIVE YEARS, Artissima has been a key focal point for Turin, exemplifying the web that connects at least five groups: artists, dealers, collectors, curators, and museums. The city’s institutions vigorously support this fair, and last year alone, with 52,000 visitors, it generated 3.7 million Euros. On the morning of November 1, collectors waited impatiently at the VIP entrance to be the first to enter the Oval Lingotto arena. It was a good sign for this edition of the fair, the second to be directed by Ilaria Bonacossa. This year great attention was paid to contemporary art and to the

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  • Paint It Red

    THE STAINS WERE HARD TO CLEAN. Even after the crime scene had been cleared, the sidewalk was still a faint bloody red. Days before YAGA—a new festival celebrating São Paulo’s nightlife and queer subcultures—took over the popular downtown club Love Story, Jessica Gonzaga, a trans woman, was murdered just a few blocks away. Witnesses remember her killers shouting far-right President Elect Jair Bolsonaro’s name as she was stabbed to death.

    Emboldened by his victory, Bolsonaro supporters now flood the streets of the country repeating the new president’s homophobic, misogynistic rants. These

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  • Electoral Plastic Inevitable

    TO PREPARE FOR THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS, I studied my NYC voter guide and spent consecutive nights watching dystopian cinema. The Purge (2013) surprised me with its clear and pointed class critique. After all, in 2018, what a reasonable observer might once have imagined to be satire (see: Alex Jones; “I really don’t care do u?”) is so often bald-faced propaganda or the gleeful expression of racist and/or fascist and/or misogynist opinion. One lawless night a year when the rich can freely cleanse the nation of its underclass scum? Fuckin awesome. Even poor Pepe started out a simple slacker, remember,

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  • Upping the Anti

    ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2018, thirty-three-year-old queer activist and performer Zak Kostopoulos was killed in the streets of central Athens. His attackers, who brutally beat him in a jewelry store, where he sought refuge after being harassed by three other men at a cafe, have not been charged as of this writing. And by attackers, I mean not only the two men who commenced the hate crime but also the police who continued to exert excessive and unwarranted violence toward Kostopoulos after (finally) arriving on the scene.

    More than 140 people involved in the Athens- and Kassel-based exhibition

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  • Pack Mentality

    “I’M A LESBIAN RODEO CLOWN,” crowed Lex Vaughn. “My mom was a dick-puncher, and my dad was an ass-muncher.” Besides breaking biography as a genre, Vaughn, whose comic timing is only superseded by her charm, expertly played the part of emcee this week at Jonesy’s fashion-show-performance-cum-exhibition, titled “Jonesy’s Pack.” Like that of her Kander and Ebb cousin’s, Vaughn’s métier was utter perversity—one minute cat-calling the runway models and the next philandering with a fillet of beef jerky pinned to her vest. Gross, satisfying: tomato, tomahto.

    What’s it all about? Queer lineage. For

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  • A More Daring Pleasure

    AT THE END OF Barbara Hammer’s performance a few weeks ago at the Whitney Museum, after a minutes-long standing ovation, Nicole Eisenman said, almost as if it were a thought slipped aloud, “Barbara just invented a new genre. This was a reverse funeral, and it was amazing.” I relayed this half a week later, sitting by the window in Hammer’s studio just blocks down the Hudson from where two hundred or so of her fans, friends, and loved ones had gathered the Wednesday before. “I love her!” Barbara howled, laughing and clapping so excitedly that her dog, Dandy, came rushing to her side. “That’s

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  • Picture People

    A COLLECTOR OF FAMILY PORTRAITURE was telling me that these days nobody wants to prove Mark Twain right. “You do know the Twain quote, don’t you?” It was Sunday morning, and the nonchurchgoing milled about the Mercantile—Cincinnati’s toniest library—waiting for Teju Cole to begin a talk. The collector of family portraiture and I were discussing the city’s ascendency as a cultural hub. I said yes (“Of course!”) but I had sort of forgotten. Later, I Googled the full quote: “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.”

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  • Do You Feel Free Now?

    ON MONDAY AFTERNOON, Chelsea Manning arrived at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on Albemarle Street for her first public appearance in the UK.

    She had flown into London the morning prior, accompanied by two immigration lawyers in case she was detained. Last year, Manning was denied entry to Canada, and this August an Australian tour had to be conducted via video from Auckland after a “delay” in the decision to grant her a visa. She was met at the airport by ICA director Stefan Kalmár, who arranged the trip and Monday’s conversation with the aid of a cast including Vivienne Westwood; the

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  • Swan Song

    DEVONTÉ HYNES’S SONGS always remind me of a phrase my grandmother would say when people—and there were dozens of them—would share a moment of deep reflection or truth with her. She’d echo their words with “Take ’em to church, honey”—not because their truth posed any religious reference but because of the nature and universality of what was being expressed. Taking someone to church is a means of sharing one’s faith and teaching one’s gospel. Hynes’s songs serve as emotional guides to process heartache, insecurities, and selfhood, but experiencing his latest tour, under his long-term

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  • Fair and Folly

    “I HOPE IT ISN’T TOO DISTURBING,” a well-dressed white woman said to her friend as they considered whether to enter a sound installation about police violence at the Eleventh Joburg Art Fair earlier this month. The installation, placed right by the entrance to the fair, was the work of Haroon Gunn-Salie, the 2018 winner of the fair’s annual FNB Art Prize. It featured a black box in which an immersive soundscape was suspended from the ceiling, making listeners feel as if they were underground. We sat on the floor, and soon the voices of mine workers washed over us, in an anti-apartheid protest

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  • Remember the Time

    TAXI DRIVERS IN KOREA DON’T TALK MUCH, and with the fear of confusing them even further, I’ve learned to just hand them my phone and help as they put on their reading glasses to zoom in on my destination. While being transported around Gwangju and Seoul earlier this month, I thought of last year’s hugely popular South Korean film A Taxi Driver and Chia-En Jao’s 2016 video Taxi. But, really, the first thing you notice in these cities is that Google Maps does not work. You can search for your destination and see your position, but the app cannot provide a route. This, upon further research, is

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