COLUMNS

  • Nacht Fever

    “I'M NOT FUCKING WITH THIS,” declared Lafawndah, as she rushed backstage, upstairs at Griessmuehle after an hour-long sound check before her Saturday-night performance at Berlin’s CTM Festival. “I want to go back to the hotel,” she told one of the managers trailing behind her. There wasn’t enough time. I had been sitting with the night’s other performers in the backstage lounge when one of the festival organizers came in and announced that everyone had to leave: Lafawndah needed the room to herself, “for her voice.”

    Banished downstairs, we watched an opening DJ warm up the floor. “I kind of want

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  • Stayin’ Alive

    “WHEN I EAT, I EAT MY OWN DEATH,” proclaimed a pile of bright green stickers, injecting a gloomy note into what otherwise promised to be a lively opening. However dour, artist Atul Bhalla’s warning was not going to keep me from India International Centre’s famed samosas and a cup of hot tea on a cold winter’s day. Curated by Arshiya Lokhandwala, the site-specific exhibition bore the sanguine title “We Are Still Alive: Strategies in Surviving the Anthropocene.” I spotted the statuesque Shalini Passi, the collector and founder of MASH (My Art Shalini, a digital platform that sponsored the project),

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  • Last Resort

    TO GET TO THE ALPINE VILLAGE OF VERBIER, I cabbed to the airport at five in the morning, flew to Geneva, and from there took the train two hours along the north side of Lac Léman. Then I transferred to a smaller train for another half hour before catching a ski lift into the clouds. This trek was thrilling at first—magical, really—and, finally, somewhat absurd, given that this year’s Verbier Art Summit is titled “Resource Hungry: On Our Cultured Landscape and Its Ecological Impact.” I had come solely to attend this event—for which the Dia Foundation’s Jessica Morgan had asked an array of artists,

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  • Singapore Fling

    I FOUND MYSELF on a recent Sunday evening in a Singaporean mall, at a dinner hosted by ShanghART gallery, meeting the country’s arts impresarios over Peking duck and century eggs. Dealer Lillian Wu and Rosa Daniel of the National Arts Council spoke of the country’s expanding arts scene—words such as “global platform” and “art hub” were as plentiful as the bonnes bouches on offer. And such talk is warranted. For readers unfamiliar with Singapore (as I was a couple weeks ago), I hereby report that the city-state is booming, enjoying new streams of money diverted from Hong Kong. On January 12, the

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  • Wanderer’s Love

    LANDING AT TPE ON JANUARY 16, just five days after Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-Wen’s triumphant reelection, I was ready for a jollier mood than what had loomed over the capital during my last trip. That was during the Taipei Biennial two years ago, when I witnessed the Democratic Progressive Party’s defeat in the local elections, followed by Tsai’s resignation as the party leader. Now, on my ride to the hotel, I immersed myself in the view outside. The beauty of Taipei’s built environment—rows of slightly worn office buildings elbowing restaurants, Japanese lettering against the backdrop of a

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  • 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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