COLUMNS

  • The Dreamhouse

    THE SPECTRUM WAS ONE OF THOSE RARE PLACES in the world where you could feel totally free. It was an art space, illegal nightclub, and ephemeral proof in the possibility of building an alternative queer utopia. From residence of the cofounder, the artist gage of the boone, to spiritual home for a generation of New York artists, club rats, and orphans, the Spectrum lived for seven defiant years before the Dreamhouse—its second iteration in Ridgewood, Queens—closed in fabulous, Dionysian excess this month.

    While many DIY spaces have been predictably crushed in this city’s capitalist gears, the

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  • Cartel Cowboy

    ON THE AFTERNOON of January 16, a group of reporters assembled in the overflow room across the hall from where Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Sinaloa cartel leader, known as “El Chapo,” was being tried. There are drawbacks to watching the trial there—the grainy quality of the live video feed, the fact that viewers can’t see the defendant react to explosive testimony— as opposed to the courtroom, but outside the purview of the judge, the atmosphere is also more relaxed. As a Homeland Security agent stepped down from the witness stand, in the overflow room a reporter from El País jumped to his feet

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  • Smize Demise

    ONCE UPON A TIME, for most of the art cognoscenti, Hong Kong resembled a Wong Kar-wai film still. Then Art Basel happened. So it was all the more exciting to visit the city for a brand-new occasion: the inaugural edition of Booked, launched by Tai Kwun Contemporary. Since officially opening its doors to the public this past June, Tai Kwun, which is housed in the Tai Kwun Center for Heritage and Arts—a major redevelopment project in the former Central Police Station backed by the Hong Kong Jockey Club—has welcomed more than a million people. According to the museum’s statistics, one-fifth

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  • On the Brink

    THE PLAN FOR THE FOURTH EDITION OF THE BIENNALE INTERNATIONALE DE CASABLANCA, held from late October to early December, was to raise the profile of the event in a manner befitting the economic and cultural significance of Morocco’s biggest city. In prior editions, initiated by the Moroccan photographer Mostafa Romli and run through a foundation called Maroc Premium, the biennial wasn’t really achieving that. Its quality was middling; it had neither the means nor the glitz to rival the Marrakech Biennial, which was founded in 2004 by the British entrepreneur Vanessa Branson. This year, however,

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  • Train Spotting

    WE HAVE A BIENNIAL, what are we to do with it? It is so indivisible and so . . . ours.

    If Osip Mandelstam rejoiced to see his body blow warm breath against “the window glass of eternity,” it still remains to be seen what kind of mark our globalized art world may leave on the Future. The millennial explosion of biennials and large-scale exhibitions has paved a global highway for the circulation of contemporary art, giving rise to an international community with its own vernacular—instead of shibboleth, we have Szymczyk. We’ve effectively achieved the “platform for international discourse”

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  • Lure of the Local

    WELCOME TO THE DREGS OF THE YEAR, when all we want—or need, given the chaos of 2018—is something socially nourishing. And no, I’m not talking about Art Basel Miami Beach.

    On Saturday December 8, an afternoon of overlapping talks, workshops, film screenings, and performances was brought together under the banner of “Access and Agency” at the Queens Museum in conjunction with “Queens International 2018,” the eighth edition of the truly local group show that spotlights a set of artists working in the most royal borough. This year, a lively intergenerational dialogue on abstraction, chance

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  • …And Justice for All

    AFTER ESCAPING THE GLORIES AND GLAMOURS OF SHANGHAI ART WEEK, I landed in Taipei on November 13, during election season, catching a break from the circuit of fairs and events for global art superstars. The subject more likely to be discussed among my art-world friends in Taiwan wasn’t who you bumped into at West Bund but who you were planning to vote for. If it’s true that Shanghai touches upon everything but local politics, Taipei is the opposite: There’s no way—and no need—to shun civics, anywhere.

    Last December, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed the Act on Promoting Transitional

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  • Happy Birthday, Zayed!

    THE SAME DAY Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan aggressively implicated the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his royal highness was busy headlining the second annual Future Investment Initiative—dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” for its congregation of mega-executives and heads of state—at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton. Despite cautious last-minute cancellations from many, the prince appeared ebullient and pithily announced the success of the conference: “More people, more money.”

    The inverse—“more money, more people”—is

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  • Rush Hour

    FOR THE NINTH EDITION of the annual LagosPhoto Festival, “Time Has Gone,” twenty-three artists hailing from Myanmar to Madagascar displayed their works across ten venues in Nigeria’s commercial capital. The four curators—Eva Barois De Caevel, Charlotte Langhorst, Wunika Mukan, and Valentine Umansky—invited participants to take up the idea of nostalgia, reinterpret the past, investigate archival practices, and, essentially, try to slow down time: an impossible twist on the festival’s themes. To my mind, the show primarily offered one thing: uncertainty.

    It all started out promisingly

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  • Play Safe

    THE WARDROBE OF SMALL TALK must be continually refreshed; this year, during Shanghai’s unofficial art week, the once voguish ice-breaker of comparing Shanghai to Beijing proved suddenly démodé. China’s capital came up only once, during a dinner with artists Margaret Lee and Allison Katz: Margaret had just returned from a trip there, while Allison was anticipating her first visit. Symbolically, Beijing-based Philip Tinari didn’t come to Shanghai. Despite his sensible reasoning (“to attend the opening of the China show at SFMOMA and the David Diao catalogue launch in New York,” he told me two

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  • Italian Feast

    FOR TWENTY-FIVE YEARS, Artissima has been a key focal point for Turin, exemplifying the web that connects at least five groups: artists, dealers, collectors, curators, and museums. The city’s institutions vigorously support this fair, and last year alone, with fifty-two thousand visitors, it generated 3.7 million euros. On the morning of November 1, collectors waited impatiently at the VIP entrance to be the first to enter the Oval Lingotto arena. It was a good sign for this edition of the fair, the second to be directed by Ilaria Bonacossa. This year, great attention was paid to contemporary

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  • Paint It Red

    THE STAINS WERE HARD TO CLEAN. Even after the crime scene had been cleared, the sidewalk was still a faint bloody red. Days before YAGA—a new festival celebrating São Paulo’s nightlife and queer subcultures—took over the popular downtown club Love Story, Jessica Gonzaga, a trans woman, was murdered just a few blocks away. Witnesses remember her killers shouting far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s name as they stabbed her to death.

    Emboldened by Bolsonaro’s victory, his supporters now flood the streets of Brazil, repeating the new president’s homophobic, misogynistic rants. These

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