COLUMNS

  • 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 Besides breaking biography as a genre, Vaughn, whose comic timing is only superseded by her charm, expertly played the part of emcee this week at Jonesy’s fashion-show-performance-cum-exhibition, titled “Jonesy’s Pack.”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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  • Apocalypstick!

    FIRST CAME WOODSTOCK, the legendary 1969 hippie festival. Then came Wigstock, the world’s foremost drag queen festival, which reigned annually in New York City from 1984 to 2003. A few small-scale revivals have followed, but it wasn’t until September 1 that the event got the spectacular comeback it deserved. The seven-hour extravaganza, dubbed Wigstock H.20, was held on the sprawling rooftop of Pier 17, a five-story complex jutting out on the East River and featuring stunning cityscape views.

    As always, the format was a marathon variety show hosted and curated by Wigstock’s figurehead, Lady Bunny,

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  • Down in Front

    BEFORE THE CUYAHOGA RIVER CAUGHT FIRE, searing into the public’s imagination an unfair but dogged metaphor for a Cleveland in decline, Tennessee Williams is rumored to have delivered a sicker burn: “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” The claim isn’t entirely without truth. In 2018, Cleveland—with its deindustrialization, police violence, segregation, and purple politics—is a microcosm for “The American City,” which is in fact the subtitle of the inaugural edition of FRONT, a multimillion-dollar international triennial that

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  • Everything Old Is New Again

    ONE REASON I’VE ALWAYS LOVED THIS PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL is the faded splendor of the city itself. An ancient limestone gem of some fifty thousand inhabitants, Arles lies along the Rhône River, bordering the swamps of the Camargue. Should you go, mosquito repellent is a must for Arles’s nights. Roman remnants, such as the arena and the theater, silently compete with early Christian and Romanesque churches. Residential homes and nineteenth-century industrial buildings further bridge the eras. During the opening week at the beginning of July, many of these venues hosted events and workshops, book

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