PRINT May 2013


Monica Majoli, Black Mirror (Amy), 2011, oil on panel, 15 7/8 x 19 7/8". From the diptych Black Mirror (Amy), 2011–12.

FORGOING OUTRIGHT ATROCITY, of which there is so much—too much—right now, aren’t the “life,” “body,” and “face” of Michael Jackson in the running for some of the most abstract events of the last century? (I use the tweezers of scare quotes to approach each of those precarious terms because I’m not certain I could handle them at all otherwise.) “His” face and its occlusion, in the final years, when any nose he had was entirely prosthetic (not to mention the permanent eyeliner and chemical bleaching), became a brutal inversion of all the solar joy he beamed as a young performer—that is, when his face appeared at all, since he was prone to wearing what appeared to be a niqab, “transgendering” his complicated presence as much as cloaking it. I’m not bringing up Jackson’s “desire,” every bit as abstract as it was intractable, because his “desire” strikes me as even more

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