COLUMNS

  • Fog Machine

    FOR SEVEN YEARS, I’ve watched the art and design fair known as FOG recede and advance (last year, fifty-three galleries were present, this year a more manageable forty-eight); shift its art-to-design ratio (more art, less design); and beef up its ancillary programming (ten artist/curator talks in four days in the on-site auditorium). Taking place at the Festival Pavilion—the historic pier at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture––the fair features a considerable cadre of San Francisco galleries, or galleries with outposts in the city, and is disproportionately supported and visited

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  • Slipstreams

    “THIS IS THE BIGGEST PARTY IN AFRICA, as far as photography is concerned.” The Nigerian photographer and curator Uche James Iroha was holding court in the airy ground-floor exhibition hall of the Palais de la Culture Amadou Hampaté Ba, a spacious, gently decrepit multiarts complex and one of the main venues of Rencontres de Bamako. An established crossroads for art and ideas in Africa, the respected photo biennial is now holding its twelfth edition, which runs through the end of the month and marks twenty-five years since its founding in Mali’s capital.

    That’s an impressive run, not least because

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  • Yes, Yes, Yes

    “THE MOST IMPORTANT THING is that this is a project with meaning, that we do something more than make money,” Roth is saying. He’s just Roth (born Eduardo Neira), founder of Roth Architecture and a self-described visionary. “The idea is to get out of the cave.” A reference, I think, to the tunnel vision inflicting our human race (“the human tribe”).

    We’re outside Roth’s sci-fi-set-meets-skate-park home near Tulum, Mexico. Chet Baker’s voice wafts over the water plants as we sit down in a concrete “nest,” surrounded by theme-park-like waterfalls to have lunch on latticed ceramic plates designed

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  • Private Eye

    “WE FOUND A CAFE with friendly staff and pleasant, inexpensive food,” recounts the unnamed, “flaneuring” narrator of Patrick Keiller’s 1994 film London, “but there was no sign of anyone writing poetry.” These words came to mind as I meandered around the preview for Condo London, a gallery-share initiative whose fifth iteration showcased seventeen local spaces and nineteen international counterparts. London elegizes a civic spirit vanquished by Thatcherism, and as the city buckles again under the intemperate cruelty of its former mayor’s prime ministership, its resonance endures—on Routemaster

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  • Scene and Held

    PRICED OUT OF THE LES, Ludlow 38 will shutter indefinitely. By now, this is too familiar a story to really be anything beyond a bummer, so last Thursday, on the night of the crushing UK elections, some friends of the gallery gathered to toast it goodbye at Nublu Classic, the Alphabet City bar. Guests of the “Too Faust Too Furious” party were variously scrounging for drink tickets and fretting about getting canceled in Texte Zur Kunst; Marie Karlberg was valiantly fighting a hangover from her opening at Tramps the night prior, which featured a sizable chunk of art-world players playing (basically)

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  • Inside Job

    A WOMAN IN A RED JACKET, doing her job, walked through the halls of the Miami Beach Convention Center on VIP Preview Day. An older, whiter man in navy blue walked beside her. They paused to look at a John Currin painting. “In the end, visual art is all about light,” said the woman. “Have you ever been to Ohio?” asked the man. He had a point.

    The point of Miami, both Beach and Basel, is that you don’t have to visit to understand it. “I am not here to do drugs,” said a man in a Panama hat, pacing the exhibition floor with a skull-topped cane. “It has nothing to do with drugs. It has to do with my

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  • Love of Siam

    I LANDED IN BANGKOK in the midst of an identity crisis: Having lost my Chinese ID just before the Singapore Biennial, I realized 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

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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, minutes before, just 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, with some vessels conspicuously bearing bubblegum-pink ads for the fifty-eighth edition of the Venice Biennale: “May You Live in Interesting Times.” The Peggy Guggenheim Collection

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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 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 that at your typical OC capsule-collection drop, it

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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. After sampling Artissima’s assortment of 208 galleries from 43 countries, you’d be hard-pressed to feel that you overlooked anything aesthetically fundamental in the city of Turin, apart, perhaps, from the museums and tourist spots.

    Fair director Ilaria Bonacossa was a smiling, tireless cynosure in the

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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 I 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 and director Michael Govan and Yuz Museum founder Budi Tek in attendance.

    Monday, 7:30 PM 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 dismantling of the Berlin Wall, 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

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