COLUMNS

  • Open Season

    THE HARDEST PART of the first-ever London Gallery Weekend wasn’t attempting to visit the 130 official galleries, plus dozens of unlisted events, in a city about twice the area of Berlin or New York. The real challenge was recognizing people you’d not seen in a year only from their eyes, peering above face masks. Resocializing after a year spent cocooned in one’s tiny domestic bubble—relearning to chat with humans unable to finish your every sentence, for example—proved a newfound struggle. And is it safe to hug hello? Or must we perform that weird elbow rub, with its masonic secret-handshake

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  • Lagoon Squad

    STEPPING OUT OF A GLOBAL RAINY LOCKDOWN and straight into a sunny Architecture Biennale in Venice is no small feat: not for the locals, who are by now used to having the city to themselves; and not for the pro travelers who discover a land of 11 p.m. curfews, zero buffet lunches, and carefully slotted museum previews, where spritz is flowing but Italians have stopped hugging and kissing. The first few minutes inside any exhibition (or aperitivo) today feel like a miracle and a relief: The Biennale is actually happening! We are here again! Three air hugs (or drinks) later, a sense of bewilderment

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  • Yard Sale

    FRIEZE’S LITTLE CARNIVAL SNUCK UP ON US, much like Andrew Yang’s mayoral campaign. Fellow New Yorkers, I implore you, do not space on the primary election (June 22), and do not vote for this jovial empty suit. Perhaps his support for the recent Israeli violence in Palestine will have gotten your attention? The motherfucker will trade affordable housing for the Olympics or an Iron Dome. It will just be Bloomberg 2.0, which resulted in criminal offenses like Hudson Yards.

    Hudson Yards, coincidentally, was the site of this year’s Frieze art fair, which abandoned Randall’s Island for the first time

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  • Computer Love

    ON A WEDNESDAY NIGHT, during Berlin Gallery Weekend’s mostly digitized preview days, Hannes Schmidt of Schiefe Zähne and I were about thirtieth in the queue for chili cheese fries, which we were to bring back to the gallery where Richard Sides was putting finishing touches on “The Matrix,” an exhibition he made about being immersed in a technological world of uncertain boundaries. The show includes a crude cardboard homage to Spot, a robot dog offered by Boston Dynamics to the tune of $75,000. Killing time during the long wait for provisions—facing a 10 p.m. curfew, most of the nearby restaurants

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  • Lightning Strikes

    I COUNT EIGHT NYPD SQUAD CARS in front of the Time Warner Center and another van by the Trump Hotel. It's April 30, and two concentric circles of metal barricades lashed together with zip ties—erected during last summer’s rebellion and removed this past March—are back, surrounding the Columbus Monument. I’m half an hour early and the sky looks ready to open up into what my phone assures me will be a brief, light squall. I huddle outside a temporarily shuttered Maison Keyser to keep dry and skim the Strike MoMA Framework and Terms for Struggle, on the lookout for others attending the group’s

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  • Meet Me Halfway

    “YOU FEEL GEOLOGIC TIME IN SHARJAH,” Eungie Joo said at the March Meeting 2021, the annual three-day convening of globe-trotting art professionals hosted by the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) in the United Arab Emirates. This year’s program, “Unravelling the Present,” was staged as a ten-day series of virtual roundtable discussions and solo presentations as part of a thirtieth-anniversary reflection on the Sharjah Biennial. In her presentation, Joo, who curated the biennial’s twelfth edition in 2015, spoke of seeing seashells in the desert during an on-site research trip in Sharjah and realizing

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  • Cool Intentions

    LAST SEPTEMBER, when Artnet published a sweeping account of the dramatic ascent of Amoako Boafo, whose fingerpainted portraits of Black people had apparently cast a spell over the market, it read like the script of a Hollywood blockbuster. Replete with eye-popping prices, secret deals, greedy collectors and curators, and a ballsy move by Boafo himself to seize control of his own work, the profile laid bare the inner workings of a rapacious art market. It also sharply framed the increasing international hunger for contemporary African portraiture and the surge of pressure it creates for the

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  • See Saw

    ABOUT A DECADE AGO, the Tanjong Pagar Distripark, an unassuming warehouse turned gallery hub whose tenants included Galerie Steph, Ikkan Art International, and Valentine Willie Fine Art, was touted as the “edgy” gathering spot for the Singapore art scene. Not long after, in late 2012, Gillman Barracks, another visual arts cluster home to local and international galleries and the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, was inaugurated with much fanfare. After the confetti fell, both art precincts publicly dealt with their fair share of tribulations: a revolving door of occupants, criticisms of unnecessary

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  • Laughing Stock

    WELL, THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY! In the deluge of recent stock market coverage—hard to ignore even for the most financially illiterate digital soldiers—this new arc of the obnoxious reality show we call the US of A has fast developed along antique narrative lines such as the “Jacobite day traders versus the powdered wig hedgefunders.” Elon Musk busted into the fray mid-last week like some crypto Kool-Aid Man to incite the razing and pillaging of the hermetic fortress of finance and his loathed enemies, the short sellers, who were betting on a video game retailer to fail much as they had bet against

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  • On and On and On

    ERIK MET ME for dinner in Stockholm, where I had a few hours to kill before my night train north. We sat alone in the large and self-consciously old-fashioned restaurant in the central station while a second wave of Covid-19 ravaged the Swedish capital. Unlike in Germany, establishments—and, crucially for my visit, exhibitions—remain open here. Throughout the pandemic, the state has declined to enforce the use of masks and social distancing, appealing instead to people’s sense of civic responsibility to control the virus, though the government is now reconsidering this strategy. “It sounded

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  • Gloves Off

    BACK IN JULY, after the pandemic in China eased due to draconian border control and contact tracing measures, the Chinese Super League was able to resume matches. People had been joking about how torturous it would be for the rest of the world to have only Chinese soccer games to watch—a running gag here on the mediocrity of the sport in this country. Earlier this month, Shanghai Art Week’s two main offerings, ART021 and West Bund Art & Design, seemed to be the only art fairs opening offline in the world. Unlike football games, they were not televised to the rest of the world.

    From November 9 to

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  • Rave New World

    “THE DANCE FLOOR is so much smaller than I remember.” This is the main feedback you’ll hear from visitors to the recently opened Boros x Berghain exhibition that fills Berlin’s old power plant–cum–legendary nightclub until it’s safe for techno-heads and leather-gays to return to their natural habitat. It used to take hours to get from one end to the other, or so it seemed. Now a small, wonderful Andro Wekua painting lends the space an almost domestic atmosphere. One of Anna Uddenberg’s mannequin sculptures humps the counter in the upstairs Panorama Bar; Sandra Mujinga’s tall hooded figures lurk

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