COLUMNS

  • Low Relief

    I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, dear reader, but I really have not been getting out much. I hunkered down the second week in March, resurfaced briefly for some protests, and then resumed the shadowy, unproductive, vaguely counterfactual Covid-era life—a weird, slowdripped speedball of paranoia and complacence topped off with knifing hangovers of despair. It’s gotten a little old. Therefore, when asked by the editors to report back from Thursday’s “L.E.S. Summer Night”—an evening of gently extended hours among some thirty-odd Lower East Side pandemic-parched galleries waiting open-mouthed for a quenching

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  • Agit Chop

    FOR THREE WEEKS, a six-block radius in Seattle was one of the freest spaces in America. The Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) was never planned—rather, it sprang up spontaneously after the police, who had violently suppressed the Black Lives Matter movement at their door for weeks, were ordered to abandon their own precinct. Protesters decided to pitch tents and set up an encampment and, after some deliberation, came up with a list of demands, including defunding the Seattle Police Department by 50 percent. As this no-cop zone flourished into a lively village, local artists including Kreau,

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  • Washington Postcard

    A VIDEO PROJECTION on the facade of the US Department of Justice building played to an audience of one for its debut last week in Washington, DC.

    Moments after the light beam touched the limestone, an agent from the US Department of Homeland Security arrived, demanding to know who the projectionists were with. They weren’t “with” anybody, one of the four of them said. The agent made a call on a radio. He put his face in their faces. He shouted. Military jeeps swept down Pennsylvania Avenue, but they glided past the tense nighttime scene.

    The standoff lasted only minutes. The projection squad

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  • Signs Are Everywhere

    BEFORE ANYONE GOT STARVED ENOUGH to sneak out for a fuck or a socially distanced porch hang, we took drives. On a recent Saturday, I visited the Westside edition of “Drive-By-Art,” an outdoor exhibition billed as “public art in this moment of social distancing” and organized by Warren Neidich, Renee Petropoulos, Michael Slenske, and Anuradha Vikram. On the way, I passed through Silver Lake and Echo Park, where a number of Artemisa Clark’s replicas of posters from New York in 1987—when Carl Andre was on trial for second-degree murder of his wife, Ana Mendieta—remained stapled to telephone poles

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  • Say Anything

    MY FAVORITE WORK OF ART so far this year was made by anonymous Chinese netizens: They took the transcript of a 404’d interview with the nation’s earliest Covid-19 whistleblower and reuploaded it on WeChat in various “useless” codes, including HEX, emoji, oracle bone script, and one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s invented languages, Sindarin. Their ideal audience, one imagines, was the censors themselves.

    At the Timezone 8 Café in the 798 Art District on May 22, the first day of Gallery Weekend Beijing, I briefly sat in on a meal with curator Zhang Hanlu, artist Wang Tuo, and critic Yang Beichen, who were

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  • Lights On

    FOR ALL ITS STRIVING, Houston has long struggled to make claims for art-world preeminence. That changed last Saturday, when the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, became the first major American museum to reopen its doors to the general public after closing in mid-March to help stem the spread of Covid-19. The MFAH was positioned to make this leap due to a combination—magical or nefarious, depending on one’s view—of the state’s gung ho Republican governor, the city’s hygiene-friendly sprawl and competent Democratic leadership, and museum director Gary Tinterow’s unflagging ambition to keep up

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  • Hello Again

    IT’S BERLIN GALLERY WEEKEND, or week seven of corona quarantine, which means face masks are obligatory on public transport and in shops, and I’m busy with the third volume of Proust and how-tos for making schnitzel zu Hause. Meanwhile, leaving the house is the new Instagram: potentially bad for your health, but a great source of affirmation, where sanitary salutations—foot and elbow pumps—accumulate like Likes. “We are walking on thin ice,” reminded Mutti Merkel as galleries started reopening last week. But everyone is so happy to see you. At Galerie Barbara Weiss, Bärbel Trautwein and Daniel

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  • Zooming Out

    WHO KNEW 2020 WOULD END UP THIS WAY, with someone asking me to stare at American flags on my laptop screen and write about it for Artforum? But that’s precisely what I’m doing on day thirteen of my fortnight of mandatory home quarantine in Shanghai, having recently returned from a post-Wuhan COVID-19 evasion tour. It’s eight o’clock in the morning: I’m wiping sleep out of my eyes with my hand-sanitized fingers and pouring gratuitous amounts of black coffee down my throat, keeping an ear out for the body-condom-ensheathed volunteer from my neighborhood committee who bangs on my door twice a day

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  • New Horizons

    IT’S A BIG NIGHT FOR ME: I’m leading a crowd of friends on a gallery tour at Gay Gardens, my own private island, where my museum is finally open to the public. Millions now know this feeling—the Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing: New Horizons has raked in record-breaking sales since its opportune release last month, amid a global lockdown. Players build and grow a village on a deserted island, participate in an adorable form of capitalism, fly to friends’ isles, and work with a dapper curator owl to amass a three-wing collection of fossils and living creatures. In an environment with so much

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  • Retreat Yourself

    THE QUARANTINI IS THE DRINK OF THE MOMENT. It’s just like a martini, except you have it alone. The Californian pop star Lauv, by the sound of it, has been downing quarantinis for a while. His is a songbook of solitary anguish, with titles such as “f*ck, i’m lonely,” “Lonely Eyes,” and “Sad Forever.” Take the chorus for “Modern Loneliness,” the lead single for the twenty-five-year-old’s new album, released a couple weeks ago: “We’re never alone / But always depressed / Love my friends to death / But I never call and I never text.” Lauv might just have missed the mark on this one: Now, many of us

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  • Something in the Air

    TO KISS OR NOT TO KISS: This was, at the beginning of the week of ARCOmadrid, more or less the tacit issue at hand, as the coronavirus had arrived in the capital just as the wings of the international art world were descending. But here in Spain, we are indiscriminately effusive with intimates and strangers alike, so as the fair—this year excellently led for the first time solo by Maribel López—took cruising speed, kisses and hugs and explosive laughs and close whispers in the ear won the war against demurer modes of interaction. For better or worse, each culture is born, develops itself, and

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  • Berning Love

    “COMBS ARE FOR PUSSIES!” declared comedian Sarah Silverman. “I’m trying not to use that word that way––it’s super negative. Combs are for McConnells!” Silverman, along with Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Cullors, actor Dick Van Dyke, and yes, Chuck D of Public Enemy, gathered Sunday night with approximately fifteen thousand people at the Los Angeles Convention Center for one of the more unusual and weirdly dreamy lineups in political history, all there to stump for one tousled-hair Vermont senator ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries. 

    The day before the rally, a huge crowd joined writer

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