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Bruce Hainley

Karen Kilimnik, Curtains and Chairs (from Mariinsky Theatre), 2007, mixed media. Installation view. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

Midwinter murder is in my heart

As I stand there on the curb in my opera pumps,

Waiting for the car to come and the opera to start,

Amid the Broadway homeless frozen clumps.

—Frederick Seidel, “Midwinter”

I’VE BEEN HEARING ABOUT art as social practice for a while, but this year there was truly no escaping it. Not clear what the phrase really means, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t include most of what Martha Stewart still intrepidly serves up in Living. Although, since most of that magazine shows people actively effecting some kind of exchange with one another, seemingly quite seriously and/or vivaciously sharing their homemade pickles (and local plights), I’m at a loss as to why her relational aesthetics haven’t been entertained as an important, um, prolepsis of whatever might be meant by art as politically engagé or participatory, communal. Aren’t those exactly the qualities

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