COLUMNS

  • Oh Milano!

    ART FAIRS MIGHT BE A BIT like that moment before death, when your entire life flashes before your eyes. During a span of only days, everyone seems to bump into everyone they’ve ever known since, well, forever. Certainly, this was the case at the Milan Art Fair, or MiArt, which opened on April 13 and ran through April 15. Despite the bad weather, I was out and about on a Monday, several days before the fair’s official opening, to honor the artist Jimmie Durham. He is a beloved presence at the Fondazione Adolfo Pini, a refurbished nineteenth-century apartment building, where his current exhibition,

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  • The Call of the Mild

    IF 2016, WHICH BEGAN WITH THE PASSING OF DAVID BOWIE and ended with the election of Donald Trump, felt like a year of death—of beloved musicians, celebrities, and democratic values—2017 was a year of outrage, not least in the art world. It started with fierce debates sparked by the Whitney Biennial’s inclusion of Dana Schutz’s painting Open Casket, 2016, a partly abstracted representation of the murdered, disfigured body of Emmett Till in his coffin; continued with the removal from the Walker Art Center’s Sculpture Garden of Sam Durant’s large outdoor sculpture Scaffold, 2017, intended to

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  • Eye in the Sky

    WHEN BERENICE ABBOTT (1898–1991) began wrestling with a large-format camera to produce her iconic photographs of New York City in the early 1930s, she had to overcome a fear of heights in order to achieve a range of perspectives. On the top floors of skyscrapers, she could escape the interruptions of pedestrians, who would gather to watch her dive in and out of the bulky camera’s black focus cloth.

    This month at the lion-guarded New York Public Library, curator Julia Van Haaften debuted her definitive biography of this “self-taught risk taker,” Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography. From the

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  • Regional Delicacies

    “IT’S THE BIGGEST ARTWORK my mother ever bought,” Sabine Langen-Crasemann told me of the Langen Foundation’s Tadao Ando–designed museum space in a field outside Düsseldorf. Her mother sold a 1951 Jackson Pollock to pay for the elegant glass structure, lined with cherry trees. If the parade of luxuriously stalwart Rimowa suitcases at the airport had not made it abundantly clear, we are not in cheaply uncheerful Berlin anymore. Welcome to the Rhineland: the densest landscape of private museums and collectors in Europe.

    At Museum Ludwig on a Tuesday night, as Haegue Yang received the prestigious

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  • Dam It

    I HAVE A SOFT SPOT FOR GRITTY CITIES. I don’t mean like Berlin used to be in the nineties (even though I wasn’t there then), but the kind of place that, unless you were born there, you most likely would never end up in, if not for a specific reason that brought you. Picture a small city—its medieval core (a castle, a cathedral, and quite a few churches) surrounded and disrupted by industrial brick buildings, working-class housing, and banal architecture from the 1980s to the mid-aughts; spread it over the banks of a river (the Shannon, to be precise) in refined shades of gray, but without the

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  • Don’t Panic!

    DUBAI—THE GREAT DESERT CAPITAL of Starchitecture-on-Speed and the distinct Khaleeji brand of Hypercapitalism-as-Luxury-Entertainment that artists Fatima Al Qadiri and Sophia Al Maria famously dubbed “Gulf Futurism”—is starting to show its age. In an era when every other province has a bargain-bin Zaha Hadid or two, the skyscraper archipelagos and man-made islands just look, well, dated. As theorist and first-time visitor Mi You so pithily put it, “This feels like a Little China.”

    Where desert sandscapes once readily lent themselves to fantasies of Life on Mars, now “the future” has taken on more

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  • The Mori the Merrier

    I’M NOT JAPANESE, but I am from a country—England—where drinking tea is a daily given (“I’ll put the kettle on” follows “Hello” like night follows day). And having grown up in a household where teabags were considered infra dig (it was leaf Earl Grey or nothing), I possess a great deal of sympathy for the idea of turning a simple infusion into a ceremony. So while the closest I usually get to a ritualized procedure may be warming the pot, it makes complete sense to me that something possessed of such restorative power should be treated with veneration. It was with some satisfaction then that I

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  • Star Light, Star Bright

    “CAN YOU MAKE IT DISAPPEAR?”

    Impossible! It is exhibited in a gallery.”

    Yolanda Choy Tang, a former reporter, was talking to a friend who saw her in a Wolfgang Tillmans photograph, holding up a microphone in a meat market (Hong Kong TV Reporter, 1993). The photo was part of a solo show at David Zwirner’s new Hong Kong outpost in the H Queen’s Building. “It was twenty-five years ago!” said Tang to Tillmans, who came to greet her during the vernissage. Tillmans had just finished talking to the press about making one-of-a-kind images: “Many photographers have a sense of inferiority and feel the need

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  • Talk Therapy

    I’VE DECIDED THAT MY FAVORITE FORM OF TIME TRAVEL is going to the Emirates. From remote-controlled taxi trunks to my astonishingly steep learning curve around identifying objects in the hotel room, the sun-kissed futurity of the Emirates feels like an overexposed Instagram filter with washed-out colors—save for the deep and vibrant blue of the sky. Indeed, visions of luxe, calme, et volupté are to be had on the highway rather than under the scorching sun. You move through Happiness Street in Dubai in order to reach the Abu Dhabi Highway, where you can tune into thirty-second blurbs about world

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  • What’s New Is New Again

    “IT IS THE SECOND EDITION, but really it feels as though it’s the first,” said Amber Wang, this year’s director of Gallery Weekend Beijing, or GWBJ. She’s eager to break the city’s recently uncharismatic relationship with the art world. And it seems to be working, as enthusiasm abounded across the participating twenty-two galleries in the 798 and Caochangdi arts districts as they welcomed an international crowd of curators, dealers, and collectors who came through, readying themselves for Art Basel Hong Kong. Shanghai is still on the rise, opening new museums and attracting artists fleeing an

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  • Platform Issues

    “IT’S BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES.” So started Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble’s keynote speech at Rhizome’s Ethics and Archiving the Web conference, hosted at the New Museum from March 22 to March 24. Noting that Mark Zuckerberg’s apology over the Cambridge Analytica revelations sounded “like an old boyfriend or lover who’s like, ‘I’m sorry I let you down and I won’t do it again,’” Noble also observed the language of perfection that surrounds technology companies and their supposed mistakes, which are often discussed as glitches, bugs, or viruses that mar “an otherwise perfectly operating

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  • E.A.T. Up!

    ZÜRICH’S KLOTEN AIRPORT WAS VERY BUSY during the last week of January. The snow was unusually abundant, as was the number of security guards deployed to protect the roster of international leaders—including France’s president Emmanuel Macron, President Donald J. Trump of the United States, and the United Kingdom’s prime minister Theresa May—arriving for the World Economic Forum in Davos. But in the village of Klosters, the heartland of British royalty, we boarded trains for Lower Engadin, in the direction of the village of Zuoz, for another illustrious (yet far more artistic) summit called the

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