COLUMNS

  • Bernadette Mayer

    “I should have become a thief,” Bernadette Mayer tells me. “I would’ve made more money, maybe.” For Mayer, thievery and poetry are not so different, property itself being theft, which is also true of poetry, because who do words belong to? It’s this periphrastic logic that runs through Memory, the durational experiment Mayer performed in July 1971, shooting one roll of 35-mm slide film a day and keeping a rigorous diary. First presented as an installation of 1,116 photographs accompanied by handwritten notes and a six-hour audio recording of the entire text at Holly Solomon’s 98 Greene Street

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  • Wang Tuo

    Wang Tuo’s art is often likened to a maze, and rightly so. His multimedia works map the paths of lives both real and hallucinatory, branching into absurdist dramas that, through their sinuous timelinese and deeply felt politics, end up at new places to begin. The five videos viewable in Wang Tuo’s current online exhibition at White Space, Beijing, thrust a cast of characters into specific historical situations while placing history itself into an unorthodox narrative structure. Here, Wang Tuo outlines his recent work and upcoming plans. “Standing at the Crossroads” opened online on April 30 and

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  • Patrisse Cullors

    Best-known as one of the three women who founded Black Lives Matter, and the powerhouse behind the grassroots movement that’s now transforming the Los Angeles County prison system, Patrisse Cullors is also a formidable artist. Fresh on the heels of major victories in both arenas—her Reform LA Jail’s initiative, Measure R, passed by a landslide 71 percent in the February election, and recent performances at LTD, Frieze LA, and The Broad have won her the attention of the Los Angeles art scene—Cullors talks here about the intersection of activism and creative expression.

    THE THROUGH LINE between my

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  • Hwayeon Nam

    Over the past eight years, the Korean artist Hwayeon Nam has explored social and historical choreography and temporal reroutings of archives through the figure of Seunghee Choi (1911–1969). A pioneer of modern Korean dance and a national icon whose life and career were marked by colonial occupations, clashing ideologies, and peninsular war, Choi was born the year after Japan annexed Korea. She studied dance in Tokyo at age fourteen and later toured internationally, counting among her audience and admirers figures such as Charlie Chaplin, Jean Cocteau, Yukio Mishima, and Pablo Picasso. Choi’s

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  • Petra Cortright

    Petra Cortright is known for her webcam videos, paintings, and other screen-based works, which—simultaneously cool, playful, and errantly feminist—often toy with the vocabulary of online imagery and self-presentation. Her first webcam video, VVEBCAM, 2007, shows Cortright distractedly cycling through preset video effects and is included in Rhizome’s Net Art Anthology. An exhibition of new digital paintings, “borderline aurora borealis,” opened at Team Gallery in New York City on March 5 before closing early due to the coronavirus pandemic. Below, the artist discusses webcam cinematography, the

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  • Leslie Thornton

    “There are no other people in the world. Something has happened to them, but Peggy and Fred are unconcerned . . . They are adrift in the detritus of prior cultures, cast loose in a world of post-apocalyptic splendor. And they also watch television . . . This constitutes their idea of the Social.” This is how Leslie Thornton describes her epic cinematic series “Peggy and Fred in Hell,” which she has repeatedly edited and reassembled from 1983 to 2016. Thornton’s five-decade output is similarly elliptical and self-theorizing, drawing from shot and found footage, text, and archival material to

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  • Mamie Tinkler

    Mamie Tinkler has painted intimately scaled, meticulously observed watercolor still lifes for over fifteen years. The Memphis-born, New York–based artist’s tenaciously analog study of everyday objects—dishware, drapery, decorative keepsakes—evokes a Morandian quest disenthralled from traditionally gendered and abstemious formalist hierarchies. At a juncture that is challenging us to unlearn the desire for the remote and spectacular, Tinkler’s work stretches our capacity for perceiving what’s at hand. Her solo New York debut, at Ulterior Gallery, was shuttered at the outset of COVID-19 stay-at-home

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  • Olia Lialina

    Pioneering Net artist Olia Lialina was one of the first to make work for networked browsers and she’s one of the few from that first wave to persist. She not only offers metacommentary on the evolving conditions of the World Wide Web, but also consistently speaks and writes about its vernacular iconography and the social conditions created by its content, protocols, and devices. Lialina maintains her own archive of Geocities pages, can recount the art history of sparkly star gifs, and is herself a noted “animated gif model.” Her current show, “Best Effort Network,” is up at arebyte Gallery,

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  • Ajay Kurian

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    Ajay Kurian’s work stages a deliberately incomplete account of the irreducible (but not inexplicable) entanglement of race, language, power, and desire. The artist’s wrought figurative sculptures are nightmarish character studies that often wear their immature, contradictory ideology on their sleeves—quite literally: In Childermass, Kurian’s stairway installation in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, one moon-headed figure sports a 9/11 memorial shirt with the phrase “the age of ignorance” superimposed in Arabic; others rock New Balance “dad shoes” that acquired reactionary connotations after an

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  • Cao Fei

    For millions of lives, the novel coronavirus currently rocking the globe has induced a secession from “real” to virtual space, where ubiquitous “social distancing” mandates are simultaneously heeded and safely transgressed. Who better to speak to this moment—gravid with apocalyptic and utopian frisson—than Cao Fei? The Beijing-based artist has devoted her practice to addressing social upheavals and breakneck urbanization through virtual, augmented, and mixed realities that chart new capacities for alienation and love. Here, she discusses “Blueprints,” a multimedia exhibition at Serpentine

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  • Johanna Unzueta

    Johanna Unzueta’s speech, lilting and melodic, is peppered with one of art’s most taboo words: beautiful. And yet it suits to a tee her capacious and interdisciplinary practice, one that transmutes—through delicate material sleights—the ordinary into the surprising, and by turns dazzling. A huge chain, made from thick cuts of gray felt, unfurls from the ceiling, each oversized link fragile yet tough, warped just slightly at the edges; a set of pale ochre and blue-striped uniforms hang mutely on a clothing rack; wall drawings in charcoal and bronze dip in and out of corners, ladder up and down

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  • Rivane Neuenschwander

    Fitting that this conversation was made possible through translation: The Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander’s oeuvre, spanning some thirty years, is dotted with experiments in the misuse, repurposing, and dislocation of language. Our interview was anchored by the words carta, residue, and fear. Echoing the approach of her room-size installation Work of Days, 1998, which was recently on view in “Surrounds” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, this text gathers some of the threads and effects of pieces she has recently shown and plots them against the grid of her career.

    THE FIRST WORK I

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