COLUMNS

  • Love of Siam

    I LANDED IN BANGKOK in the midst of an identity crisis: Having lost my Chinese ID just before the Singapore Biennial, my original itinerary was out the window—I had planned to travel from Shanghai to Thailand via Singapore, but now I could no longer apply for a tourist visa to enter the Lion City at all. And so I vacationed through the more visa-lenient nations of Indonesia and the Philippines, finally touching down in Bangkok the night before the opening of the second “Spectrosynthesis”—a queer art exhibition series initiated by the Hong Kong–based Sunpride Foundation, this time hosted by the

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  • High Water

    THE RAINS WERE BIBLICAL, justifiably accusatory. In a remarkable occurrence, the lagoon overtook most of the city, flooding the chamber on the Grand Canal where Veneto’s right-wing regional council had only minutes before rejected measures to fund renewable energy sources and minimize plastic use, among other climate change proposals. Images of waterbuses beached near a drowned Saint Mark’s Square made the rounds, some vessels conspicuously bearing bubblegum-pink ads for the 58th edition of the Venice Bienniale: “May You Live In Interesting Times.” The Peggy Guggenheim Collection closed, as did

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  • Look Book

    LAST STURDAY, I attended a book launch that was actually a reunion. Club Kids—the real OG kind—whipped out limelight-worthy looks to celebrate none other than themselves as featured in the pages of New York: Club Kids (2019), Walt Cassidy’s new 376-page love letter and impressive archival photography project.

    “I haven’t seen you in like [X] years!” rang out more than a few times as colorful legends of lost New Yorks brushed past racks of $400 clothing at the packed Opening Ceremony flagship on Howard Street. While the crowd was twice as gay and twice as old as those present at your typical OC

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  • Grand Torino

    RELAX AND DO IT! While large fairs in European capitals tend to be stressful and stressed out, my four days last week in Turin, the onetime hub of Arte Povera, for the lone Italian art fair dedicated solely to contemporary art, was both elegant and substantial. I just went with the flow—or flows. You’d be hard-pressed, after sampling Artissima’s assortment of two-hundred and eight galleries from forty-three countries, to feel that you’d overlooked anything aesthetically fundamental in the city of Turin, apart, perhaps, from the museums and tourist spots.

    Fair director Ilaria Bonacossa was a

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  • Happy Together

    THERE’S AN OLD CHINESE SAYING: “Food is the Heaven of the People.” As it happens, one of the things most look forward to during art week, anywhere in the world, is the immoderate free dinners. This time the slew of feasts in Shanghai kicked off with a private dinner put on by Hyundai to celebrate their partnership with the Yuz Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This, I was told, would be the only meal all week to have both LACMA CEO/director Michael Govan and Yuz Museum founder Budi Tek in attendance.

    Monday, 7:30 P.M. sharp, I arrived at Bloom, a chic, open-kitchen bistro known

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  • Basic Extinct

    I SPENT THE WEEKEND IN A FORMER CREMATORIUM thinking about death. The occasion was a two-day symposium organized by SAVVY Contemporary as part of their exhibition “The Long Term You Cannot Afford. On the Distribution of the Toxic.” The colloquium coincided with the thirtieth anniversary of the Berlin wall’s collapse, and though it had already been a month since David Hasselhoff made his traditional appearance for the official reunification day, a kind of kitsch-comedown still weighed on the festivities. I’ll admit that I hadn’t exactly looked forward to contemplating the apocalypse over a

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  • Love, Lagos

    LAST WEEKEND, Ahmadu Bello Way was without chaos, surprising for a road routinely choked with bumper-to-bumper congestion. The facilitators of this calm were none other than the Nigerian army and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, deployed to ensure that everything remained smooth on the thoroughfare for the fourth Art X Lagos, West Africa’s preeminent art fair, now doubled in size from previous editions. For a private art event, the muscle was surprising. Or maybe not. Past iterations of the event have aspired to and often achieved organizational excellence—in the scale of their

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  • Gulf Clap

    “THIS CAMEL, we waited a long time for it to be born,” museum development specialist Karen Exell told members of the press one morning at the stunning new National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), which opened this March. We were touring an installation on traditional Bedouin life, watching footage of the fuzzy creature lurch itself onto its feet for the first time. The same might be said for the long-awaited museum, superbly designed by Jean Nouvel to mimic the angular planes of a gypsum rosette, or desert rose crystal, small specimens of which are available in one of two gift shops. Some of the floors

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  • Seoul Cycle

    ARRIVING OFF A FOURTEEN-HOUR FLIGHT from New York, I couldn’t remember the code to my grandmother’s apartment, until it came back like a muscle memory: 1945, the year of national liberation for my grandparents, who were in middle school when the Japanese occupation ended. The persistence of the country’s ancient Confucian moral codes are refracted and jumbled through memories of imperial rule and aspirational neoliberalism in modern Seoul, and compounding deep-rooted hostilities against our former colonizer are the recent trade standoffs; the astonishing sense of kinship among Koreans manifests

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  • Monster Mash

    LET’S BEGIN WHERE MY FAIR WEEK ENDED, feeling left for dead lying on a bed, under an eldritch green glow emanating from some mysterious source (art?) at the Normandy Hôtel, a Haussmannian relic under partial renovation in the first arrondissement, where the Finnish collective the Community were hosting their inaugural salon. Evocative of something between a haunted house, a Kubrick film set, and, less excitingly, an art fair, the salon’s setting promised to channel the wicked fun of art’s unruliness, theatricality, and imaginative displacements. Yet as I moved through the hotel’s narrow corridors,

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  • Time Sensitive

    IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT during the opening weekend of the Icelandic arts festival Sequences, and I’m at a food hall in Reykjavik along with a dozen or so members of the tight-knit creative scene on this island of roughly 360,000 people. One of the show’s cocurators, the sixty-three-year-old artist Ingólfur Arnarsson, is expressing his love for the experimental black-metal band Liturgy, as well as the intense, clavicle-rattling ambient noise of Tim Hecker. I’m surprised, a little, that Arnarsson’s musical tastes veer so aggressive; he’s a fairly subdued guy, known for making modest pencil-on-paper

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  • In the Wind

    ENCOUNTERS, BY DEFINITION, occur unexpectedly. Woven within the fabric of everyday life, like a tear, an encounter cracks the familiar. But how do you prompt this experience when the “encounters,” as the title of Timișoara’s current Art Encounters Biennial suggests, are expected to happen? One answer: You entwine the mystery of place. Located within the Banat, a geographical and historical region divided between Romania, Serbia, and Hungary, Timișoara has been defined by centuries of migration, both forced and voluntary, and is home to a deeply rooted, at times conflicted, ethnic diversity. (

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