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slant

BROUGHT TO JUSTICE

Coco Fusco and Paula Heredia, The Couple in the Cage: Guatinaui Odyssey, 1993, video, color, sound, 31 minutes.

IF THE AUTONOMY of art was ever actually a thing, it ended with smartphones. The whole time I was visiting “Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System” at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston on October 6 of last year, I was painfully aware that if I pulled out the screen in my pocket, I might have to confront that inevitable, disheartening headline: SENATE CONFIRMS KAVANAUGH. The white cube was no antidote to the nausea of the present. If aestheticism’s belief in art’s distance from social and political concerns still endures, it does so only in the negative, as a sense of learned helplessness. In short, my trip to camh provided little comfort or distraction. It did, however, offer some perspective. Nothing there gave me any reason to believe that art could derail the dark farce unfolding over at the Capitol, but the show did demonstrate how artists have meaningfully

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