London

Caroline Coon, A Sweet Lob from 25 Yards, 2009, oil on canvas, 60 1⁄4 × 48".

Caroline Coon, A Sweet Lob from 25 Yards, 2009, oil on canvas, 60 1⁄4 × 48".

Caroline Coon

Tramps

On December 13, 2019, the day that Boris Johnson secured his victory in the UK general election, I wanted to be angry. I wanted to be angry at entitlement, capitalism, and state-sanctioned inequality; at populism, bigotry, and dumb-as-all-hell patriotism. But, truthfully, I was numb. I was cold, hungover, emptied out. My present offered me nothing. I offered nothing in return.

Hours after learning that the Conservative Party had obtained its largest majority since 1987, I visited “The Great Offender,” an exhibition of fourteen paintings by Caroline Coon. In part, I was drawn to Coon’s history of countercultural politics: She has campaigned for women’s rights since the 1960s; was central to London’s punk scene, managing the Clash from 1978 to 1980; and in 1967 cofounded Release, a legal-advice agency for those arrested on drug charges.

But, more than anything, I needed to feel the proximity

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