COLUMNS

  • A Dangerous Method

    I WONDER HOW people will think of psychoanalysis after they see the show “Louise Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter,” currently at the Jewish Museum in New York. Will it rise in their esteem, having fallen to the level of a silly, obsolete science, a worn-out, clichéd set of interpretations? Bourgeois’s relationship to psychoanalysis is rich, layered, and, importantly, long, as psychoanalysis is wont to be: beginning in 1951 with her treatment following her father’s death, lasting until 1985 with her psychoanalyst’s death. She calls it “a jip,” “a duty,” “a joke,” “a love affair,” “a bad dream,” “a

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  • Ground Control

    I’M SITTING AT THE BOTTOM of a dry, deteriorating swimming pool in the Great Salt Lake Desert. Here, across northwestern Utah’s remote Tooele County, the bone-white, salt-crusted terrain appears endless. It’s so vast you can see the curvature of the Earth.

    The Donner-Reed Party trudged this eighty-mile waterless drive in 1846, following the spurious California Trail shortcut recommended by adventurer and future Confederate major Landford Hastings. Their hubris and resultant cannibalism epitomize Manifest Destiny’s ravenous pathology. American audacity, not ingenuity, colonized the continent.

    During

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  • Looking After

    THIS APRIL, the University of Pennsylvania admitted to the public that human remains from the charred rubble of the devastating May 13, 1985, police bombing of the MOVE complex in West Philadelphia had been given to Alan Mann, an anthropologist on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania from 1969 to 2001. He was asked to provide forensic analysis of the bones; they are now believed to belong to either or both Tree and Delisha Africa, thirteen and twelve years old, respectively, at the time of their death. Mann took the bones with him when he moved to Princeton University, but they were

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  • Galaxy Brain

    TO INAUGURATE THE CHAOID GALLERY at the New York nonprofit Thread Waxing Space in 1999, curator and School of Visual Arts professor Warren Neidich organized “Conceptual Art as Neurobiological Practice,” convening a mix of phenomenological and brain-related works from relational-aesthetics superstars Douglas Gordon and Liam Gillick, installation artist Jason Rhoades, and post-Conceptualists Jonathan Horowitz and Rainer Ganahl, among others, under the recently minted category of “neuroaesthetics.” Neidich, an artist himself and a former physician, had coined the term in a series of lectures at

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  • Across the Universe

    TAKING THE GUISE of a shape-shifting, benevolent creature composed of several interrelated yet sometimes conflicting personalities—seer, hedonist, eroticist, scholar, and scientist, we could call them—across its nine institutional and temporary sites, the eleventh Liverpool Biennial is the latest global exhibition to treat curating as social practice. Cued by wall text as well as a global pandemic, the ideal viewer will approach this gentle giant with an open mind about the body’s potential to connect across cultures and world history.

    Titled “The Stomach and the Port” and curated by Manuela

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  • As Above, So Below

    THIS VIRAL PHOTOGRAPH by AFP’s Anas Baba—published on May 14, about four days after the start of the Israeli military’s “Operation Guardian of Walls” in Gaza—has already been crowned by the local and international media as the definitive image of this latest wave of suffering, which continues despite the “cease-fire” announced on Friday. As Israeli TV news broadcasters went on about the search for a “victory photo” to mark the end of the fighting, Baba’s photograph, shot from inside the prison of Gaza, offered a depiction of spectacular deadlock.

    Each of the parties (there are of course more than

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  • Tour de Bourse

    MAY 19 WAS A HISTORIC DAY IN FRANCE. After six months of Covid-19 lockdown, restaurants, cinemas, theaters, and museums finally reopened to the public. In Paris, a hub for fine dining and fine art, this major step toward normalcy was feted like a national holiday as institutions including the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, and Musée d’Art Moderne welcomed back visitors. Adding to the excitement, the city will gain a brand-new shrine to contemporary art on May 22: François Pinault’s collection at the Bourse de Commerce.

    The Bourse seems uniquely well suited to house works acquired by the

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  • Looking at Gaza

    IN 2005, a group of photographers took a stand alongside the people of the small Palestinian town of Bil’in, and documented their fight to stop the Israeli government’s construction of the infamous separation wall in the occupied West Bank. Inspired by the possibility of co-resisting the occupation, the group went on to form Activestills, a collective of Palestinian, Israeli, and international photographers whose work has become vital in picturing the struggle against Israel’s colonial policies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Activestills’s photographs are not meant to create

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  • Exclusion Acts

    #STOPASIANHATE HAS BECOME a rallying cry in response to the surge in anti-Asian violence since the beginning of the pandemic, from random, brutal attacks on the elderly to a white gunman’s murder of six Asian women as well as two others in Atlanta in March. As incidents of anti-Asian violence have accumulated alongside a continuous stream of viral videos of police officers killing Black people, there has been a tendency to collapse all forms of anti-Asian and anti-Black racial violence into an amorphous framework of “white supremacy.” At the same time, videos of Black men attacking Asians have

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  • TOKEN GESTURE

    ON THE AFTERNOON of February 19—immediately after the classic internet meme known as Nyan Cat was auctioned for almost $600,000—digital art abruptly entered the most recent, and perhaps most heated, of its many hype cycles. In the weeks that followed, media outlets from PBS NewsHour to Saturday Night Live reiterated the story of record-breaking prices fueled by an enigmatic technology called the blockchain, which is a system used by techno-libertarians and anarcho-capitalists for encrypting immutable digital records in blocks of data across a decentralized chain of computers. Blockchains can be

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  • Dry Goods

    ON OUR LONG DRIVE through the desert of the Coachella Valley chasing the artworks and installations of Desert X 2021, my fifteen-year-old daughter and I drove past the El Dorado Estates. Scrubby bushes in the pale-brown soil stretched back into the vast and vacant desert behind a cinderblock wall advertising the never-realized development named after the elusive, imaginary city of gold. In the hundred miles we spent crisscrossing the desert, we passed through the shimmering black cells of solar farms and clusters of rusty corrugated shacks, past plastic-surgery centers and boarded-up resorts

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  • In Safe Hands

    IN EARLY FEBRUARY, I hopped in a car bound for Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania with my friend Becca Blackwell. Our mission was a mixture of business and pleasure: to visit Youtube-famous chiropractor, and hallowed muscle whisperer, Dr. Brent Binder. Becca—either a performance artist with a staggering knowledge of touch specialists or an anarchist pervert, depending on your chosen paradigm—is working on a new solo performance installation, The Body Never Lies. exploring the possibilities for healing beyond western medicine, which often fails its Hippocratic mandate by ignoring the idiosyncratic

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