Diary

  • Resistance Is Fertile

    “I’VE READ MORE BOOKS THAN TRUMP,” claimed a silk screen at Karl LaRocca’s Kayrock Screenprinting booth at the Los Angeles Art Book Fair this weekend. “Not hard!” asserted an Angelino in a crop top amid the bustling throngs of bibliophiles. Tallies, texts, and the possibilities and pitfalls of democracy were clearly legible throughout the fifth annual LA iteration of Printed Matter’s Art Book Fair, exemplified by Mike Mills and Experimental Jetset’s mural-size poster towering over the crowd, reading “2,864,974”: an amplification of the margin of Hillary’s popular vote lead as of January 2017.

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  • Supermarket Sweep

    AFTER WEEKS OF THE POLITICAL PORN that is now our presidency, what a relief to arrive in Mexico City—even for an art fair. Here was a place that welcomed foreigners, despite (or because of) a 30 percent drop in the peso.

    Well, money isn’t everything. Not in Ciudad de Mexico (now known as CDMX). So what if you can’t take a deep breath without feeling faint? The oldest capital in the Americas is a place of constant wonder and discovery. What’s more, it seems to be generating more invigorating art activity than anywhere else in the hemisphere.

    Art doesn’t just matter here. It’s fun.

    Take the exacting

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  • Reality Check

    “I DON’T THINK I’M GOING,” I told a friend the day I was supposed to fly to Tehran. The White House had just released a draft of the executive order banning entry to the United States for nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Iran. The order wasn’t final yet, so on top of the profound despair over global politics, there was a certain confusion about concrete travel processes, especially for holders of passports from other majority-Muslim countries—including yours truly.

    “If you don’t go to Tehran you’ll regret it,” said my friend. “And eating kebab in Westwood won’t make up

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  • Oslo Peace

    THERE’S NEVER A GOOD TIME to travel under the auspices of cultural representation on behalf of a country with demonstrated fascist and xenophobic leanings. Three days before I embarked for Oslo, our president enacted the so-called travel ban; two nights prior to my departure, a Brooklyn federal judge issued an emergency block temporarily barring deportations as protesters demonstrated worldwide. But even now, with 45 promising a new executive order, the ordinance’s fate remains uncertain.

    Norway, nevertheless, was as reservedly gracious in its reception as its reputation would suggest. On the

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  • Oh My Gstaad

    WITH RECORD-LOW SNOWFALLS, Swiss ski resorts appear to be the latest casualty of global climate change.

    Which is a shame, since winter sports are now intrinsically bound to Swiss contemporary art—that is, to cultural attractions that keep residents busy or attract new ones.

    These past few weeks, one could take part in master classes at the Verbier Art Summit in Valais (with Rem Koolhaas, Tino Sehgal, or Beatrix Ruf) or in the Engadin Art Talks in Zuoz (with Oscar Tuazon, Hito Steyerl, and even Eileen Myles). But the only alpine event that promises to resemble an art exhibition is Gstaad’s Elevation

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  • κρίσις Management

    ATHENS WAS COLD, the coldest it has been in some thirty years—so cold, in fact, that it recently snowed. Without the blush of warm air, the city’s usual statement piece—the Acropolis, high on its hill—had assumed the gelid, distant role of a winter palace, icily lit at night and dull in the afternoons, abandoned to an uncharitable background of gray sky that darkened, occasionally, into fits of frigid rain. While the rest of the world was undergoing its hottest winter on record, Athenians bundled up and trudged on, and you might have mistaken them for New Yorkers—sniffling, bound in parkas—or

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  • Sleeping Giant

    BORN IN 1974 IN A CITY, Bologna, that’s impossible not to love and wonderfully accessible to collectors from northern, central, and southern Italy, Arte Fiera has long been the Italian champion of sales, the social start of the art season, and an unmissable event for Italian collectors.

    Nonetheless, Italy’s longest-running modern and contemporary art fair now finds itself competing with MiArt and Artissima, and after a few editions needs rebranding. The newly appointed director of the fair, Angela Vettese, has a solid background as a critic, curator, professor, and cultural councillor, but is

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  • Band of Outsiders

    DESPERATE TO LOCATE SOME SHRED OF LIGHT, grace, or decency at the beginning of our new Dark Age, I lumbered downtown to see the Outsider Art Fair the Saturday before last—as my blessed sisters were marching, raging—at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. I was in dire need of tempering my apoplectic bloody-mindedness. (When I saw our new chef à l’orange being sworn in with the Lincoln Bible—the same bible Barack Obama used for his 2009 and 2013 inaugurations—I wanted it to explode into flames.)

    When I got there, I had the good fortune of meeting and talking to the delightful Jackie Klempay—proprietress

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  • Shadows and FOG

    BEFORE LAST WEEK’S POLITICAL STORM, one of the first art fairs to blow into 2017 was FOG Design + Art Fair in San Francisco. In theme with its atmospherically obstructive name, gale-force winds and torrential rain grounded a spate of incoming flights, among them my own. But as I touched down early the next morning, my phone perked up with tidings of prefair goings-on among local galleries. At my request, I received a pic of artist Nicole Wermers and dealer Jessica Silverman, framed by the clean red lines of a Shiro Kuramata unit whose shelves were loaded with sand in a work by Wermers included

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  • Condo Camping

    IN THE SERIES OF LECTURES that now constitute A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf made the case that for a woman to write anything of substance, she must have access to resources—most notably, the titular claim to space—that could free her from the tedium of social convention. The argument was radical at the time in proposing the domestic sphere as a space for transgression and reinvention, rather than just a convenient place to keep your wife.

    Woolf may not be namechecked in the press release for Sadie Coles’s current group show, “Room,” but her thinking pervades it. Curated by Laura Lord, the

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  • Women in Revolt

    FOR ONCE, you didn’t have to be there to know, but if you did join the Women’s March on Washington this past Saturday, you saw firsthand what it meant to move with a civilian army against the extreme radical narcissism of Donald J. Trump.

    It meant business.

    Led by women, and weaponized only with pink knitted hats, hand-painted signs, and our voices, not a shot was fired, no fights broke out, and the freedom to speak and assemble won out.

    Talk about a populist uprising! Unlike the media, the DC police estimated the crowd in the nation’s capital at one million citizens—all ages, ethnicities, and

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  • Attitude Adjustment

    “FINALLY!” was all anyone could think last Tuesday when Myanmar-based artist Aye Ko received the 2017 Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art. He’d been nominated for the prestigious prize three years running.

    Ko immediately promised to “share it with the community, with the children, and for their education.” Kirk Wagar, US ambassador to Singapore, and Art Stage director Lorenzo Rudolf presented the elated artist-activist with an oversize check for $15,000. “His work is a good investment too,” said Rudolf, who apparently gets asked about this a lot. The other nominees, Indonesia’s Arahmaiani

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