COLUMNS

  • Saidiya Hartman

    Five centuries of white supremacist terror: not just a past to which we are ineluctably fastened, but a present which produces us, albeit in differing orders of magnitude and vulnerability. The United States has long maintained the fiction that this country had molted its foundational violence, and yet, just as your skin sheds daily only to live dispersed atop your furniture and knick-knacks, so too does the grime of history make up the loam in which a person is destined to flourish, struggle, or wither. The work of Saidiya Hartman has charted a path in and through the social arrangements produced

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  • Neïl Beloufa

    As virtual art showrooms proliferated after cities locked down to curb the spread of Covid-19, Neïl Beloufa worked with web designers, developers, and painters to produce Screen-Talk.com. The java site, its blinking interface a throwback to the ’90s, features pop-up videos, a live chat, and a series of games that allow browsers to choose an avatar and progress toward the prize of an artist’s edition also available in an online shop. The URL launched in early May, days before the end of France’s confinement, but its clips belong to a lo-fi miniseries that Beloufa made in 2014 titled Home Is

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  • 1000 WORDS: CY GAVIN

    ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, night three of New York City’s curfew, the mayor’s gutless try at repressing the conflagrant uprisings for Black lives, Cy Gavin and I checked in on each other.

    Cy was upstate, where he’d moved a few years back to live and paint more or less as he wanted. He was excited about some paintings he was finishing and I asked if I could see them. One depicted a Saxon blue sofa that belonged to the enslaver George Washington. Cy kept him out of the picture but perched his rotting dentures on a cushion. To simulate the little brass tacks in the upholstery, he used the tip of his

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  • Lynn Hershman Leeson

    As a young artist in Berkeley during the 1960 and ’70s, Lynn Hershman Leeson’s involvement with issues of civil rights, community, and the conditions for defining a public—most notably through the Floating Museum, 1974–78—helped ground her political and social consciousness. The “museum” platform pooled community resources to commission and exhibit site-specific art in public spaces, first in the San Francisco Bay Area and then more widely in the United States, Italy, and France. She has since spent her career collaborating with scientists and technologists to challenge how we construct identity

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  • Monument Lab

    Over the last few weeks, public statues and monuments representing the violent histories of slavery, colonization, and racism have been defaced, toppled, and disassembled through the direct actions of global protestors. Since 2012, the Philadelphia-based art and history studio Monument Lab, founded by curator and historian Paul Farber and artist Ken Lum, has worked with individual practitioners, museums, and municipal governments in cities across the US and Europe to reconsider the role of monuments in public space. Here, Farber and Lum discuss Monument Lab’s research-driven process and the

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  • Faith Holland

    In Faith Holland’s work, one is always attuned to the erotics of technology and virtual space: the sensation of stroking a trackpad, tapping a keyboard, or cradling a cell phone are revealed as genuinely intimate acts. Her exhibition Soft/Hard, now online and installed in the physical space of Los Angeles’s TRANSFER Gallery, has two parts: “The Most Beautiful Dicks Pics of All Time,” a series of GIFs hosted on Pornhub.com, and “Soft Computing,” a collection of plush sculptures featured in collaborative performances and a vanitas livestream. Here, Holland—who also recently cocurated an ongoing

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  • João Enxuto and Erica Love

    João Enxuto and Erica Love are shrewd diagnosticians of the asymmetrical distribution of power within art institutions. Through their work, they consider the potential ramifications of the incursion of platforms, big data, and AI into contemporary art, noting how they amplify and naturalize existing structural inequalities within the arts and threaten the already greatly-diminished agency of artists. Crucially, however, through works like the Institute for Southern Contemporary Art (ISCA), 2016, Enxuto and Love imagine the emancipatory potential of such technologies, if they were to be pried

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  • Alicja Kwade

    Guided by scientific principles, Alicja Kwade breaks complex structures into comprehensible segments while shrouding her art in a mystery both cosmic and human. Last spring, she installed two large-scale sculptures modeling the solar system on top of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for its Roof Garden Commission series. Comprised of heavy, delicately suspended stones from around the world, the abstract orrery encouraged viewers to reflect on their own position within a massive yet fragile universe. Working under partial lockdown in Berlin, the artist discusses the nature of time under

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  • Dread Scott

    For over three decades, Dread Scott has made art that confronts state-sanctioned brutality and racial injustice while imagining revolution. His 2015 flag, A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday—a declaration of memorial immensity and stark prolepsis—remains an emblem of the United States’ foundational and ongoing violence against Black people: violence now being challenged as millions take to the streets nationwide in a staggering response to George Floyd’s killing. Below, Scott discusses his past and recent work, art institutions’ response to the current uprisings, and the radical possibility

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  • 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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