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books

CRITICAL MASS

Gary Indiana, 1977. Photo: Marcia Resnick.

Vile Days: The Village Voice Art Columns 1985–1988, by Gary Indiana, edited by Bruce Hainley. New York: Semiotext(e). 600 pages.

THE FIRST THING to say about Gary Indiana as an art critic is that he was humane. His harshest judgments were arrayed against various forms of cruelty, lifelessness, and greed. That cruelty might be found in the glib sadism of a work like Tom Otterness’s Shot Dog Film, 1977, in which the artist executed an animal he got from a shelter; lifelessness, in the practice of exhibiting art in bank lobbies in the manner of a Chanel display (even if no fault of the work itself), or creating it by computer program. Greed was always in the air during the years Indiana was senior art critic for the Village Voice, writing the weekly columns from 1985 to 1988 now collected in Vile Days. These were the waning Reagan years. New York University was beginning to gobble up

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