COLUMNS

  • Aspirational Dystopia

    THE MOST WIDELY ANTICIPATED VIDEO GAME of the past several years, Cyberpunk 2077, was finally released in the twilight of 2020. Served up in over thirty countries across all major gaming platforms, this regrettably undercooked sci-fi pastiche—riddled with disruptive glitches, prone to crashing, and jerry-rigged from clearly unfinished code—infuriated nerds across the globe. I thought that perhaps a dystopian hacker narrative marred by erroneous programming might represent a perfect (albeit accidental) marriage of form and content—but this interpretation has probably appeased no one. Moreover,

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  • Point of No Return

    “WHEN DISCONTENT WITH MUSEUMS is strong enough to provoke the attempt to exhibit paintings in their original surroundings or in ones similar, in baroque or rococo castles, for instance, the result is even more distressing than when the works are wrenched from their original surroundings and then brought together.” This is Theodor Adorno in his great essay “Valéry Proust Museum,” first published in German in 1955, a moment of reckoning and reconstruction. Though Adorno doesn’t specify why the attempt to return and repatriate is more upsetting than the original rift and reassembling of modernity,

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  • Impostor Syndome

    WHAT HAPPENS when a painting is unmasked as a forgery? The colors, the forms, and the brushwork remain the same, and yet, everything has changed. The spell of authenticity, related to what Walter Benjamin called an artwork’s “aura,” has broken. A taboo-shattering exhibition organized by Rita Kersting and Petra Mand at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, titled “Russian Avant-Garde at the Museum Ludwig: Original and Fake” and on through February 7, seeks to pick up the pieces, provocatively pairing its works of questionable provenance alongside authentic loans in order to contextualize the challenges

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  • PURGATORY

    You didn’t ask, but since

    You didn’t, my body’s a brick

    Of longing & sorrow, pure red

    Blood beaming stars down

    Down down into the center of the Earth

    I said it WAS a brick, not that it is

    LIKE one.  This one calls me Miss

    Shaves his legs, shows me his cock in sheer

    Black stockings, explains his intuitive

    Desire to capitalize You when addressing

    Me.  I feel a growing desire to worship

    The Feminine, he says.  I do too

    I answer, with a ruefulness I know he

    Won’t detect.  I know its immensity

    But I also know the shit and blood

    Through which my body teaches

    Me the majesty of this burden

    Which I wonder if this new

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  • Tantric Entanglements

    “IF YOU WENT TO THE BRITISH MUSEUM EXPECTING SEX, you’d be disappointed,” says Conor Macklin, director of London’s Grosvenor Gallery. He sounds a little disappointed. After all, if one braved Covid-19 to see a British Museum extravaganza, titillatingly titled “Tantra: enlightenment to revolution,” then surely sex was part of the deal? Curator Imma Ramos begs to differ. Ramos—the guiding light behind the show (which opened on September 24, 2020 and runs through January 24, 2021)—hopes to uncouple Tantra from cheesy associations with carnal black magic.

    Ramos’s spiritual nemesis was “Tantra: The

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  • The Blazing World

    HEIC ARTEMISIA

    the tombstone of Artemisia Gentileschi is said to have read. Clear and simple, forgoing the usual embellishments, such as names of father, husband, and children, dates of birth and death. HEIC ARTEMISIA, or HERE LIES ARTEMISIA.

    Artemisia: now commonly referred to by her first name only (Madonna! Cher! Beyoncé!), in order to avoid confusion with that other famous Baroque Gentileschi pittore, her father, Orazio. In life, she also went by the surname Lomi, a nod to the traditional artisans of her Tuscan heritage, which she thought might endear her to the powers and patrons of Florence,

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  • Switching Gears

    AS ELSEWHERE, the impact of social distancing on Mexico City’s artistic activity has been relentless. This year, the closest thing we have to the city’s annual Gallery Weekend, a hectic, weeklong affair canceled due to Covid-19, is the novel initiative “Museo Autoservicio” (Self-Service Museum). Conceived by curator and Mexican modern art scholar Daniel Garza Usabiaga, the project’s first outing, titled “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” and on through December 20, appoints itself (falsely) as “the first-ever drive-thru exhibition.” Installed in the underground parking lot of

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  • BAD EDUCATION

    “If I saw it

    I felt it

    If I felt it

    I learned from it.”

    —Peter Gizzi, “EVERYDAY I WANT TO FLY MY KITE,” from Now It’s Dark

    “Generalizing is part of what causes depression. The more we generalize, the more separate we become. The more we get specific with each other, and actually hang out, and actually try to solve the problems, the better life is.”

    —Taylor Mac

     

    In The Changing Light at Sandover

    The hierarchies of heaven

    Are revealed to James Merrill

    And his partner David Jackson

    By their familiar, a handsome

    Young Jew from 4th Century

    Greece named Ephraim, whom

    They contact via a Ouija

    Board, their fingers

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  • Housing Works

    A LARGE CHUNK of the Queens Museum is taken up by its most famous attraction: the permanently installed and periodically updated to-scale Panorama of the City of New York built for the World’s Fair in 1964. Commissioned by Robert Moses, the urban planner instrumental in engineering a postwar city that catered to an exclusionary class of day-tripping managers as a growing undercommons transitioned to a service or underground economy, its proximity to a current exhibition on housing injustice and urban planning, “After the Plaster Foundation, or, ‘Where can we live?,’” makes for a rich historical

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  • Selling Point

    EARLIER THIS MONTH, France’s National Assembly took a step toward the restitution of colonial plunder promised by President Emmanuel Macron three years ago, voting unanimously to return twenty-six objects to Senegal and one to Benin. That same week, the Dutch government published an official report that strongly recommends the return of looted cultural objects, and even suggests that important artifacts legally purchased from former colonies be considered for repatriation. Though the scope of the French legislation is narrow—Beninese President Patrice Talon expressed disappointment that France

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  • Aftershock: Marlene McCarty

    Artforum has invited artists to share a text, image, or video in the immediate wake of the United States presidential election and will be posting their contributions throughout the next week.

    (ACHILLEA MILLEFOLIUM) Reputedly, simply holding the energetic achillea millefolium grants psychic protection. Pressing it to the forehead cleanses the third eye and brings chakras into balance. Yarrow’s effects on blood are evidenced even in its name—achillea, for Achilles who carried it to Troy to treat his troops. Soldiers used it through the First World War to stop blood loss. It’s also known as woundwort

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  • Aftershock: Michael Rakowitz

    Artforum has invited artists to share a text, image, or video in the immediate wake of the United States presidential election and will be posting their contributions throughout the week.

    I AWOKE ON THE MORNING of Wednesday, November 4, to the news of a still-too-close-to-call election. I went for a run in my neighborhood of Edgewater, on the north side of Chicago, and on my way home, I passed by the site of the former Edgewater Hospital. Closed since the 1990s, the hospital was the birthplace of John Wayne Gacy and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Demolition of the site began in early 2017, shortly after

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