COLUMNS

  • Frank Bowling

    Frank Bowling on color, the sublime, and painting paradox

    For six decades, Frank Bowling has experimented with how personal and political memory can be sustained within the constraints of late-modernist abstraction. A solo exhibition, “Penumbral Light,” is on view at Hauser & Wirth in Zurich through August 20, and a major survey, “Frank Bowling’s Americas,” will open at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in October. Below, the Guyana-born, London-based artist discusses his abstraction as an encounter with something simultaneously familiar and unexpected, compelled by an enduring fascination with what a painted surface can be.

    I’M WORKING THROUGH WATERY

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  • Karla Knight

    Karla Knight on living with the unknown

    Over the past four decades, artist-conlanger Karla Knight has doggedly worked in an extraterrestrial idiom, cultivating an otherworldly iconography and an invented language so potent she dreams in it. Arriving on the heels of “Navigator,” her survey at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, “Road Trip,” on view from May 20 to July 1 at Andrew Edlin Gallery in New York, features recent drawings, paintings, and tapestries that hover between spaceship blueprint, geometric abstraction, and impenetrable abecedary. Below, Knight addresses her diverse influences, her relationship with paranormality and

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  • Dario Argento

    A horror maestro’s quest for beauty

    Unfairly “demoted” to the status of genre filmmaking in America, Dario Argento’s half-century of aesthetically and narratively outlandish giallo films have managed to invent a new cinematic language written in images of blood, death, and desire. Argento’s emphasis on stylistic detail— characterized by an oscillation between baroque maximalism and the midcentury modern, and a disorienting penchant for the extreme close-up—has ensured the director’s oeuvre a place alongside those of Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Sergio Leone, all of whom Argento counts as major influences. On

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  • Kembra Pfahler

    Putting it on the record

    I first heard about the work of performer, musician and artist Kembra Pfahler in the early ’90s when a friend told me she’d seen a Richard Kern film—Sewing Circle (1992)—that documented Pfahler getting her vagina sewn shut. I recall her gesture making me feel sad and a little sick, yet I mostly felt deep admiration for the extremity of her self-possession. Here she was taking on rape culture (among other violences), prohibiting the penetration of her body by means of needle and thread, the classic tools of “woman’s work.” Perhaps best known for her death rock project the Voluptuous Horror of

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  • Katherine Wolkoff

    A bird’s-eye view of mass extinction

    Throughout her lifetime, Block Island resident Elizabeth Dickens (1877­–1963) amassed a collection of 172 stuffed birds—whenever one died, locals would bring her the specimen—which she used to teach the island’s children about ecology. Her life and work inform “Taken from a Cat,” a solo exhibition by the Brooklyn-based artist Katherine Wolkoff that remains on view at Benrubi Gallery in New York through June 18, 2022. The show features forty photographs displaying Dickens’s handwritten labels recording how each bird died, and five larger landscape views of the island made with a lensless camera.

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  • Eiko Ishibashi

    Finding music in the remains of the remains

    Composer and multi-instrumentalist Eiko Ishibashi began her career in the ’90s, playing in bands like Panicsmile, but it was her 2008 record Drifting Devil that brought her to wider critical attention. Since then, she’s been releasing recordings that map a broad but connected series of practices: song albums like Carapace (2011) and The Dream My Bones Dream (2018), and movie scores, most recently for the Oscar-winning Drive My Car. Using a variety of instruments, field recordings and electronic generations and interventions, she creates aural spaces that feel physically real, both haunted and

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  • Jasmina Cibic

    The hard lessons of Europe’s soft power

    Through her films, images, installations, and objects, Jasmina Cibic pulls back the curtain on hegemonic powers, exposing the formulations and ideologies that create and maintain political authority. Cibic’s latest exhibition, “Most Favoured Nation,” on view from March 5 until June 12 at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, features, among other recent work, a major new installation for which the artist surveys the crumbling state of Europe.

    IN 1920, in the wake of the First World War, the city of Salzburg resolved to return humanity to a Europe that had been completely desecrated: socially,

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  • Annette Messager

    Messages from a burning world

    Throughout a formidable career that spans six decades, Annette Messager has reconceived everything things—down puffers, bras, stuffed animals—into ambivalent emblems of collective dysfunction and desire. In her atelier in Malakoff, just south of the Paris perimeter, she toils between the playful and the macabre, between parody and critique, mining personal obsessions and slyly veering into social transgression. Below, the artist—whose latest show, “Comme si” (As If), runs from May 11 to August 21 at the Lille Métropole Musée d'Art Moderne (LaM) in France—discusses coping with angst, the pitfalls

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  • Luce Irigaray

    Shifting the world through breath

    Luce Irigaray is one of the most renowned and polemical philosophers of our time. The author of more than thirty books, she is well known for her critical engagements with canonical figures of psychoanalytic and philosophical traditions through her landmark feminist texts such as Speculum of the Other Woman (1974), which prompted her expulsion from the Lacanian École Freudienne de Paris (EFP) because of its searing depiction of Platonic and Freudian representations of women; This Sex Which Is Not One (1977); Elemental Passions (1982); Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche (1991); and The Forgetting

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  • Mounira Al Solh

    Embroidering a monument to women’s stories and sorrow

    Growing up in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war, Mounira Al Solh witnessed firsthand the ways in which war and conflict upend all aspects of life and wrench a region’s sense of history from its own hands. For “A day is as long as a year,” on view from April 9 to October 2 at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England, the Beirut and Netherlands–based artist invited over thirty women to plumb their own personal heritages in order to collaborate on a prismatic display of their own traditions and contemporary realities. History may be written by the victors, but its most powerful

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  • Oraib Toukan

    “Cruel images” and the blind spots of hypervisibility

    Like the rest of us, Oraib Toukan receives images of war on her phone as a series of disjunctive, shaky video clips bracketed by sponcon. Distinctly attuned to the feelings of despair, powerlessness, and ethical compulsion these representations of abject cruelty might evoke among viewers, Toukan is not content to simply look. Instead, she meditates at length, using writing, photography, and film to respond to these granular artifacts of suffering and loss. This inquiry takes her deep into the materiality of film itself. She often enlists the help of interlocutors—in this case, deceased Palestinian

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  • Julia Wachtel

    Julia Wachtel on visual pleasure and the dumb image

    Since the late 1970s, Julia Wachtel has sifted through the dregs of the image world. From greeting cards and magazines to the plenum of digital imagery online, Wachtel silkscreens her source materials onto canvases alongside painted panels to construct her rhythmic montages. Her paintings—sardonic, boisterous, biting—will soon be on view in two solo exhibitions: “Believing” runs from April 27 to June 4 at Super Dakota in Brussels; “Fulfillment” opens on April 16 and will be the first show at Helena Anrather’s new, Büro Koray Duman–designed space on the Bowery in New York City.

    WHEN I FIRST STARTED

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