PRINT December 2019

The Year in Friendship

Nan Goldin, Picnic on the Esplanade, Boston, 1973, Cibachrome, 27 1⁄2 × 40".

YOU CAN’T HAVE COLLUSION WITHOUT CRONIES. The people who once gathered in back rooms to make back-room deals defined a friend as an ally in scamming. The definition hasn’t changed, but there are no back rooms in our regime of open-plan corruption. And yet all this transparency makes it that much more crucial to keep the transactional circuits thrumming. Maoists and plutocrats agree it takes a village to hide in plain sight, it’s just that the plutocrats are picturing St. Moritz. This past July, Vicky Ward, the journalist who in 2003 wrote about Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual predation for Vanity Fair only to see that part of her story killed, said: “What is so amazing to me is how his entire social circle knew about this and just blithely overlooked it.” That circle of blithe, blind gazes protects power like a state-of-the-art security system. You can see right through the mesh of invisible tripwires, but don’t even think about touching.

In the pages that follow, Artforum looks back at twelve months of herd impunity, but asks: If friendship is power, what other kinds of power can it be? The word conspire means breathe together. “Keeping each other alive is our most important, most impossible, task,” Artforum editor-in-chief DAVID VELASCO proposes in his reflection on a year in which the closeness of comradeship often seemed the only really knowable, or bearable, fact. Artist and writer HANNAH BLACK diagrams the brutal politics of clout but points toward “an expanding field of possibility up until now limited by generations of reactionaries.” And GREG ZUCCOLO and SARAH MICHELSON mourn their dear friend choreographer Stanley Love by writing together, acting together, breathing together.