COLUMNS

  • Interviews

    Mariam Ghani

    Mariam Ghani on Afghanistan’s unfinished histories

    Our conversation began as a requiem for Afghanistan—its violent unwinding corresponds horrifically with the name of Mariam Ghani’s film. What We Left Unfinished (2019) is a feature-length documentary on five unedited Afghan films made during the country’s Communist era of state-funded cinema (1978–991), a time deluged with coups, conflict, and censorship. Ghani’s film attests firstly and mostly to the significance and precarity of cultural workers in Afghanistan—their voices were recently gathered in an Open Letter from Arts for Afghanistan—and the Afghan histories and imaginaries that depend

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  • Interviews

    Sara Cwynar

    Sara Cwynar on finding desire in the world of images

    Sara Cwynar’s opus Glass Life (2021) ambitiously navigates contemporary image culture with her signature embrace of “high” and “low” source material. To watch this six-channel video is to tumble headlong through sheaves of saturated hand-clipped images interlaced with hundreds of files pulled from deep within the artist’s hard drives. Her narrator reminds us: “In the glass life, everything can be used. It is all material.” Fingers swipe through Instagram. Hands hold open history books. Kim Kardashian appears while we hear about tulips in seventeenth-century Holland. Cwynar pins a stock photo of

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  • Interviews

    Dash Shaw

    Dash Shaw talks about Cryptozoo and the dream logic of movies

    BEST KNOWN as a graphic novelist—Bottomless Belly Button (2008); Body World (2010), New School (2013); Cosplayers (2014)—Dash Shaw has also made two animated feature films. The first was My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea (2014), an outsider’s vision of teenage angst which employs Titanic as a disaster movie template. The second, Cryptozoo (2021), again riffs on a Hollywood blockbuster, Jurassic Park, using his distinctive manner of drawing and painting that has become more sophisticated and complex in the years since High School. A cartooning major at the School of Visual Arts (he

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  • Interviews

    Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki-Olivo)

    Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki-Olivo) on transition, retrospection, and a year of protest

    Jade Kuriki Olivo’s retrospective at the Kunsthaus Glarus in Switzerland brings together the Brooklyn-based artist’s work from the past decade. On view through August 22, the show maps the evolution of her practice as she transitioned from working under the guise of Puppies Puppies to living as an openly trans woman. Here, Olivo reflects on this transformation and discusses refusing to hide, the turning point represented by this exhibition, and the weekly Stonewall Protests for Black Trans Liberation that have kept her going over the past year.

    I WAS HIDING from the world for a long time. In

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  • Interviews

    Mónica Mayer

    Mónica Mayer talks about her collected writings

    A pioneer of feminist art in Mexico, Mónica Mayer uses humor and satire to address gender-related topics largely absent from public discourse. Intimidades . . . o no. Arte, vida y feminismo (Intimate Matters . . . or Not. Art, Life, and Feminism, Editorial Diecisiete) surveys her prolific writing practice, a vital extension of her artistic output for more than four decades. At a time when gender-based violence is surging throughout Mexico, Mayer’s writing reminds us that the feminist struggle—in the art world and beyond—is always waged on the battleground of language.

    I AM AN ARTIST WHO WRITES

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  • Interviews

    Elise Rasmussen

    Elise Rasmussen on Mary Shelley and the “Year Without a Summer”

    Elise Rasmussen’s “Year Without a Summer” took her to multiple continents and into the creation of one of Western literature’s best-known books—Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). The artist’s research-based project joins personal experience, cultural history, and scientific discovery into a surprising, layered narrative. Speaking from Los Angeles, Rasmussen shares how she weaves disparate artistic and ecological threads together with a perspective afforded by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Year Without a Summer” will be on view at Toronto’s G44 Centre for Contemporary Photography from July 21 to August

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  • Interviews

    Julien Nguyen

    Julien Nguyen on the Renaissance, conjury, and painting himself

    At the end of our conversation, Julien Nguyen read from a poem by the eighth-century Chinese poet Tu Fu that supplied the title for one of his new paintings: “In ten warrior years and more, how / could I avoid all honor? Everyone // treasures heroes, but how shameful / to talk myself up like all the others. // War smolders across our heartland / and rages on the frontiers: all those // lords chasing ambition everywhere, / who can elude resolute in privation?” It may seem grandiose to tie yourself to history this way—and it is—but this is exactly what makes Nguyen’s art contemporary. He achieves

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  • Interviews

    Alan Ruiz

    Alan Ruiz reimagines the boundaries between artist and institution

    Premier among the fabled artist-run institutions of the 1970s, the Kitchen stands today on New York’s West Nineteenth Street, its home since 1986, now hemmed in by blue-chip galleries, luxury boutiques, a starchitect office tower, and outrageous pieds-à-terre for the jet-setting elite. On a recent visit, Alan Ruiz’s elegant but spartan installation there—uncharacteristically sited in the building’s ground level theater space, rather than its second-floor gallery—suddenly erupted in sound and reflected light as a composition by Philip Glass, a veteran affiliate of the Kitchen who now serves on

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  • Interviews

    Yael Bartana

    Yael Bartana on messianic myth, redemption, and the “Jewish question”

    Since the early 2000s, Yael Bartana has brought the remnants of the “Jewish question” into sharp relief. “Redemption Now,” a survey at Berlin’s Jewish Museum on through October 10, includes early videos that simultaneously detail and estrange the rituals of Israeli Orthodox Jewish and settler communities. In recent years, her work has grown more formally elaborate—and provocative—in its choreographies and “pre-enactments.” Her trilogy And Europe Will Be Stunned, 2007–11, staged the dramatic genesis of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland, while the Philadelphia-set The Undertaker, 2019,

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  • Interviews

    Maya Lin

    Maya Lin on planting a ghost forest in Manhattan

    On Earth Day, Maya Lin and I stood in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park surrounded by dead trees. The artist and architect had just completed Ghost Forest, an installation of fifty lifeless cedars cleared from New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, where rising sea levels and salt-water infiltration now threaten the woodland ecosystem, slowly rotting trees from the inside. Tragic figures, the cedars remain standing as they perish. A soundscape composed by Lin and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology activates their stillness with the vocalizations. of cougars, wolves, beavers, and whales once native to Manhattan

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  • Interviews

    Time Regained

    María Belén Correa and Cecilia Estalles speak with Devan Díaz and Thora Siemsen about El Archivo de la Memoria Trans Argentina

    Founded by activist archivist María Belén Correa in 2013, El Archivo de la Memoria Trans Argentina is a historical-memory project devoted to lost friends and forebears. This growing collection of more than ten thousand documents—photos, videos, and mementos––gives flesh to trans lives in Argentina. The archive originated as a private Facebook group, a forum for research and discussion sustained by the dedication of its members. With the help of Carolina Figueredo, Luciano Goldin, Car Ibarra, Luis Juárez, Magalí Muñiz, and Cecilia Saurí, the community has retrieved treasures that have survived

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  • Interviews

    TELL THE WORLD

    Hanan Toukan and Adila Laïdi-Hanieh on the Palestinian Museum

    The Palestinian Museum sits nestled among the fertile hills of the West Bank in the university town of Birzeit, several miles north of Ramallah. Its $24 million, LEED-certified campus—designed by Dublin-based architecture firm Heneghan Peng—was inaugurated on May 18, 2016, days after the sixty-eighth anniversary of the Nakba, the events that led to the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Five years on, the museum has a robust programming schedule and a string of successful exhibitions under its belt. To further explore the role museums can play in reclaiming narratives

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