PRINT September 2022


Lucinda Childs, Dance, 1979. Performance view, Theatre de la Ville, Paris, October 16, 2014. Music: Philip Glass. Set design: Sol LeWitt. Photo: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images.


After seeing Lucinda Childs’s Dance, my boyfriend, a recent initiate to performance, said to me, “Dance—and by extension Dance—is the closest approximation of freedom available in human life.” Thank God he gets it.

A quick rundown for the unacquainted: Dance is a 1979 collaboration between Childs, Sol LeWitt, and Philip Glass. Contemporary productions feature Childs’s coursing, insistent dance performed by her current company behind a transparent scrim, onto which is projected a film of the same score performed by the original dancers more than forty years ago. In this inversion of Plato’s cave, the shadows are the archetype and the living bodies are the stereotype. A perfect synthesis is achieved: Life is beautiful because we die. Youth is beautiful because we age. Freedom is beautiful because we aren’t free. Yet

Ryan Ponder McNamara is an artist living in Brooklyn.


I don’t know if this originated with Iman, but after David Bowie died she was quoted as saying, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind always.” I think of this whenever I realize I’ve failed to keep it in mind.

Gary Indiana is a writer based in New York.

David Bowie and Iman, Seventh on Sale AIDS Benefit, 69th Regiment Armory, New York, November 29, 1990. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images.


I almost didn’t answer your question, because it turns out most of the artworks I’ve loved for so long are—quite embarrassingly—expensive. I like paintings that are amatory and dreamily representative, often depicting big and sort of . . . wrong ideas about women. You know like Twombly, de Kooning. It’s the best when paintings look like they have blood in them as well as flesh. I like Philip Guston, Henry Taylor, obviously Nicole Eisenman. If I pay to get into a museum and don’t see a nude, I feel tricked. But then it’s worth remembering that some of the best nudes are free, meaning: cannot be framed.

The “Nudes” in Anne Carson’s “The Glass Essay” (1995) are images seen—i.e., produced if not also created—by the “I” of the poem. They appear to her severally while, in the mornings, she meditates. They are stark and carnal—or “horrible,” according to Carson’s therapist. For Carson, these apparent hallucinations are in fact “naked glimpses of the soul,” which makes calling them nudes a little funny. In art criticism, the difference between “nude” and “naked” is such a big deal; it’s synecdochical of the harder-to-see difference between “art” and “not art.” Well, what can you expect from a woman who says a poem is an essay, and isn’t wrong.

“What I am trying to say is that the impression of the world on the mind can be so preferable to the world itself, and to everything in the world, even art.”
Sarah Nicole Prickett

Do you remember John Berger’s thing about nudity, or I guess definitionally it would be about non-nudity? He said that being naked meant being oneself, a subject, not an object. Carson’s nakedness is more like the condition of being one with the self, the self being here a collective noun. It’s like when you say, “Do you have the time?” We each have it, and we all have it. Indivisible.

OK, now see what I’m talking about. Carson describes three of the Nudes:

Nude #5. Deck of cards.
Each card is made of flesh.
The living cards are days of a woman’s life.
I see a great silver needle go flashing right through the deck once from end to end.
Nude #6 I cannot remember.
Nude #7. White room whose walls,
having neither planes nor curves nor angles,
are composed of a continuous satiny white membrane
like the flesh of some interior organ of the moon.
It is a living surface, almost wet.
Lucency breathes in and out.
Rainbows shudder across it.
And around the walls of the room a voice goes whispering,
Be very careful. Be very careful.

UNREAL. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has so many rooms, rooms that contain some of the most impressive and signifying artifacts of human life on earth. None of the rooms feel like the inside of the moon, though. Reading “The Glass Essay” makes me wonder whether the paintings, photographs, sculptures I think are so “me” are all counterfeit, ersatz, fake. Every finished work of art: another failed image. No, I’m sorry, I don’t really mean that. I love the Met, I’m sorry especially to Rodin. What I am trying to say is that the impression of the world on the mind can be so preferable to the world itself, and to everything in the world, even art.

I want to excerpt the description of the final Nude, but it is also the poem’s ending so I won’t. If you’ve read it you remember. When the body loses its gender—oh my God.

Sarah Nicole Prickett is a writer living in New York.