Nicole R. Fleetwood in conversation with Rachel Kushner

    WE CAN ALL AGREE NOW that American prisons are a malignant feature of contemporary life, broadening inequalities, destroying families, worsening racial disparities, and facilitating widespread state-sanctioned premature death, to name just a few of the most obvious iniquities. But inside these prisons, people do find imaginative ways to survive. The institutional culture of incarceration has spawned individual and communal acts of inspired genius—acts credited entirely to people, and not to the prisons where they are forced to live—modalities of making and ways of surviving that involve types

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  • Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste

    Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste on Malevich’s Black Square and the limits of visibility

    This spring, Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste filmed two static, forty-minute takes outside his apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Commissioned by Issue Project Room for their “Isolated Field Recordings” series, the videos documented a soundscape subtly inflected by the pandemic; the wails of ambulances can be heard, as can boomboxes played from the balconies of those sheltering in place; as can ominous silence. Toussaint-Baptiste made the work after the indefinite postponement of “Get Low (Black Square),” a performance at Abron Arts Center that considers Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square, 1915, as

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  • Tiago Gualberto

    Tiago Gualberto on art and extraction in Minas Gerais, Brazil

    Long before Brazilian mining magnate Bernardo Paz put the state of Minas Gerais on the art map with the opening of the Inhotim Center for Contemporary Art in 2006, the area of Brumadinho was known as a center for mineral extraction—mainly iron-ore—and the poverty and environmental destruction such an industry produces. Its splendor, defined by 700 acres of exotic foliage and a massive art collection, has not dispelled Inhotim’s status among many as “a monument to the ubiquity of dirty money in the art market.” Meanwhile, Paz himself has faced extensive allegations of tax evasion and money

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  • Caitlin Cherry

    Caitlin Cherry on digital abstraction and Black femininity

    Caitlin Cherry has always been interested in the weaponized circulation of images. At the Brooklyn Museum in 2013, she mounted her paintings on wooden catapults modeled after martial designs by Leonardo, as if they were about to be fired into the air. More recently, she has produced prismatic paintings from photos of Black femmes (including models, exotic dancers, porn actresses, rappers, and influencers) culled from social media. Inspired by the promotional posts of a Brooklyn cabaret, her newest works feature its servers and dancers in suggestive poses, flattened by delirious patterns and

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  • Saidiya Hartman

    Saidiya Hartman on insurgent histories and the abolitionist imaginary

    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

    The artist talks about his pandemic miniseries and the liberating potential of the early internet

    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 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

    The artist discusses her work with antibodies and DNA

    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

    Paul Farber and Ken Lum on reimagining symbols and systems of justice

    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

    Faith Holland on dick pics and collective mourning

    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, 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 on platforms and autonomy

    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

    Alicja Kwade on adapting her practice to quarantine time

    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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