COLUMNS

  • Glenn Branca performing The Ascension at Bonds International Casino, New York City, in 1981. Left to right: Glenn Branca, Lee Ranaldo, Ned Sublette, Jeffrey Glenn, David Rosenbloom, Stefan Wischerth. Photo: Paula Court.

    Glenn Branca (1948–2018)

    MY CLOSEST MALE FRIENDS have always been musicians, and often Libras. Examples include Steve Reich and Glenn Branca. When I first met Glenn, we discovered we had a shared love for the Kinks and the novels of Philip K. Dick. I had the most fun with Glenn in quickly improvised collaborations. My first collaboration with him was when I asked him to score the 1981 Cologne exhibition “Westkunst.” The show's curator, Kasper König, asked me to do a short documentary segment that was for German TV. Kasper wanted me to do a section about the '70s that would feature my Homes for America photos. The film's

    Read more
  • Buster Cleveland, ART FOR UM, Vol.3, Issue 6, INTERACTIVE, 1996.

    Geoffrey Hendricks (1931–2018)

    A QUARTER CENTURY AGO, Buster Cleveland would drive me, in his yellow Mercedes, over to Geoff's townhouse and have me ask him if he wanted to “go for a ride.” I'm recalling that as our first exchange.

    Geoff brought more than I ever could have imagined into my world, as did I into his. Early memories: having me shave his head as a tribute to his dear friend Dick Higgins; illustrating one of Higgins's Danger Music scores. Or flying to Spain from London one winter holiday to visit my longtime friends and marveling at Geoff pick oranges to bring back to London and share with our loved ones.

    We made

    Read more
  • Sam Miller (1952–2018)

    SAM MILLER'S IMPRINT on the performing arts in the United States is indelible, but he himself was an enigma. I was always at a loss for what to call him. Curator? Producer? Funder? Entrepreneur? Cultural architect?

    He was all of these things. And as well, he was a poet.

    When he was the director of New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) between 1995 and 2005—during which time he founded the National Dance Project (NDP), and the Contemporary Art Centers (CAC) and Centers for Creative Research (CCR) initiatives—he became impatient with writing the obligatory annual “letter from the director.” So

    Read more
  • James Yood (1952–2018)

    IN 1989, the same year I started graduate school at Northwestern University, Jim Yood was hired as the college’s lecturer and assistant chair in the department of art theory and practice. He had stepped in to take the reins from the cantankerous art critic Dennis Adrian, who was proudly dispassionate about anything that diverged from a Chicago Imagist tradition. It was here where my deep and enduring respect for him began.

    For the past twenty-nine years, Jim has never stopped teaching me. He taught me the virtue of the art review. As a spirited advocate for Chicago, he underscored the cultural

    Read more
  • Marcia Hafif (1929–2018)

    AT DIFFERENT POINTS IN HER CAREER, Marcia Hafif proposed a cave, a solitary room with no distractions, and a lusthus (gazebo) in the middle of a remote forest as appropriate environments for and as art. Within the contemporary milieu, such possibilities promise particular grace, sheltering us from the chaos by which we find ourselves surrounded. She was not suggesting escape, however, for she also engaged consistently in an ongoing practice: studiously, carefully, one stroke after another. Nor was this proposal insular. Hafif’s almost lifelong practice of mark-making toward seemingly monochromatic

    Read more
  • Laura Aguilar (1959–2018)

    I FIRST SAW A LAURA AGUILAR PHOTOGRAPH about twenty-five years ago, I think in a local art magazine in Los Angeles. The fact that I cannot remember my first encounter has to do not with its lack of impact but, to the contrary, with the fact that from that moment onward, Aguilar's work became a mainstay in my thinking, teaching, and writing about issues surrounding embodiment in photographic representation, making it seem as if I'd always known these images, mostly portraits and self-portraits. I met Laura, and shortly thereafter, the photographs gained texture and depth. One on one, Laura was

    Read more
  • Kynaston McShine

    I AM STANDING in Galerie Lelong, looking at a show of the art Hélio Oiticica made during his years in New York in the 1970s. On the front desk is a book that I pick up and skim, finding an interview with a fellow Brazilian who was close to Oiticica in those years of shared exile. He is asked whom the two men spent time with—who was their social world. Well, he says, we were pretty much alone, we didn’t really know anyone . . . except, of course, Kynaston McShine at the Museum of Modern Art.

    This memory from a good few years back, which I now can’t completely reconstruct—was Oiticica’s

    Read more
  • Kynaston McShine

    I DID NOT SEE the “Primary Structures” exhibition in 1966. I was living in Florence. Shortly after I moved to New York in 1967, a curator from MoMA, Kynaston McShine, made an appointment to visit. When he came to see me, I was somewhat astonished: white pants and shirt, red scarf, loafers, no socks, an irresistible smile, elegant, charming. I forgot to mention that he was black. Kynaston wanted to know everything about me and my work; we talked, a rapid exchange, back and forth. We hit it off immediately. Kynaston had a lightning-quick wit and sarcasm that would reduce you to silence. He was

    Read more
  • Josip Vaništa (1924–2018)

    IN 1959, a group of artists, critics, curators, and historians founded the group Gorgona, a clandestine association of like-minded creators who began sending transmissions into the world—most famously in the form of an antimagazine of the same name—until 1966, when the group formally disbanded. The driving force and intellectual motor of Gorgona was the artist Josip Vaništa, who had studied and taught architectural drawing since the early 1950s, though he never practiced the discipline himself.

    If Gorgona was, in essence, an attitude, a rumor, and an invocation, Vaništa was the keeper of the

    Read more
  • Helen Mayer Harrison. Image from the The Time of The Force Majeure, After 45 Years Counterforce is on the Horizon, Prestel (2015).

    Helen Mayer Harrison (1927–2018)

    HELEN MAYER AND NEWTON HARRISON, often referred to simply as “the Harrisons,” became known for their ecological systems art, which first emerged in the early ’70s. Helen is no more on this earth she loved, but we can imagine her serenity at contributing to its energies on another level. In her own words in a recent catalogue, she relates how her art career began: “I, Helen, began to invest myself in the earth that Newton had made.” But we are not obliged to take such a modest statement literally; we can leverage it by listening to the sharp wit and lively voice in scores of online interviews

    Read more
  • Mark E. Smith

    YOU CAN TELL how a trombone sounds by looking at its shape—just as you could see, in the scowl and bitter rictus of Mark E. Smith, the slashing vocal intensity that came pouring out of that face. Years of listening have nailed his words into my head: brittle consonants and yowled vowels, a spray of polysyllabic elocution cut abruptly short by something funny, something wounding, and thus moving, bristling, ragged with need.

    THERE IS NO CULTURE IS MY BRAG.
    MANACLED TO THE CITY! MANACLED TO THE CITY!
    LEAVE THE CAPITOL. EXIT THIS ROMAN SHELL!
    PARALLAX! ONE OF THE MILLENNIUM OF CONSPIRACY.
    TOO
    Read more
  • James Luna in 2015. Photo: Jason S. Ordaz.

    James Luna (1950–2018)

    I FIRST MET JAMES LUNA in 2005, when he was selected as the first sponsored artist for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian at the Venice Biennale’s Fifty-First International Art Exhibition. Luna performed and installed Emendatio (a Latin word meaning “correction”) and dedicated it to Pablo Tac, a member of the Luiseño tribal community who in 1834 was brought from Mission San Luis Rey, located in Southern California, to Rome to study for the priesthood. For the performance, Luna constructed a circle of stones, sugar packets, Spam, and medical syringes and vials. He then danced

    Read more