COLUMNS

  • Lightning Rods

    IT’S THE SEASON OF FIRE, but you don’t need me to tell you that. It’s the season of electric, abyssal love, but you know that too. Since the sun’s ingress into Scorpio hit the Promethean lightning of the New Moon opposite Uranus in Taurus, the pit has opened, and the yawning abyss of true democracy beckons like a confusing form of lust. You can feel it pulling on you, like gravity itself. As things collapse we will be able to right some things while others, like what has happened—for now—to the bright career of Katie Hill, will be temporarily, and apparently, very wrong.

    Imagine yourself as Alice.

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  • Current Events

    SPANNING FIFTY-SIX MILES AND BORDERING SOUTHERN TORONTO, Lake Ontario hardly registers as a natural site for most Torontonians. The smallest of the five Great Lakes, flowing in from Niagara and out toward the Saint Lawrence River, the body of water feels physically, spiritually, and psychologically distant from the bustling city. Orienting viewers toward the estranged lake, the inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art—the latest addition to the globalized exercise in art-world tourism—opens modestly and with a quandary. Curators Candice Hopkins and Tairone Bastien frame this mega-exhibition as an

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  • Malison Wonderland

    THE TALL, OLD MAN is in a pine-paneled room, wearing a blue jumpsuit that emphasizes his height. He stands self-consciously between two rows of boxed tomatoes that appear to levitate in midair. Underneath the picture is a caption: This image is cursed—the four little words that every JPEG wants to hear. On October 28, 2015, an anonymous Tumblr user paired the tomato farmer with this incantation, and the phenomenon of cursed images was born. Similar photos were dredged up from the 1990s, 2000s, and the far reaches of the internet, proliferating across copycat Tumblrs and, later, Twitter and

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  • Setting for a Cameo (for Douglas Crimp 1944–2019)

    I

    Do all the instruments agree?

    Can they?

    When each day is a season,

    as the room narrows and

    compounds mingle in discrete bones

    counting

    Mind is instrument, includes heartspine

    All organs conjugations

    There, only discord remains

    What pours opaque eyes

    See: the transitive flow

    We fail to define it

    Words too remote from their roots

    Sewage and surge

    The swirl of it all in a cake

    Cinnamon

              with a preference toward custard

    Surface tension covers gooey centers,

    blotched onion skin transparencies,

    lemon juice inks invisibly,

    swirling aspic anatomies orchid blooms,

    skin’s waxy luminescent glow;

    While Instruments

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  • Loose Canon

    IN JUNE, NEW YORK’S MUSEUM OF MODERN ART WENT DARK to put the finishing touches on its contentious five-year expansion, which promised to put $450 million and 47,000 square feet of Diller Scofidio + Renfro architecture toward fostering a “deeper experience of art” across boundaries of media, geography, and identity. Today, MoMA emerges from its chrysalis a bigger, brighter, and supposedly more progressive institution. Gone—we are told—is the stiff, developmentalist progression from ism to ism, the residual investment in medium specificity, the instinctive parochialism, the cult of white male

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  • Managed Mayhem

    THIS SUMMER, New York was introduced to one of the most renowned avant-garde works of the Argentine ’60s: La Menesunda. The New Museum’s exhibition “Menesunda Reloaded” reconstructed all the outlandish elements of this labyrinthine circuit, from its confetti blitzes and spinning cage to its incandescent tunnel of neon lights. Originally created in 1965 by Marta Minujín and Rubén Santantonín, the environment marked a watershed moment in Argentine art; its kitsch aesthetic, technological components, and participatory nature shattered notions of art established by local art academies and recent

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  • Capps Lock

    THE FIRST ROOM OF “TIMESHARE,” Liz Magor’s recent exhibition at the 500 Capp Street Foundation, was dim and crowded with furniture, boxes, moving blankets, and stacked belongings. A narrow strait allowed visitors to thread through these items to the other side, to look back at the assembled contents of a life: treasures, jetsam, desiderata. A small white dog––fabricated from polyester resin––was sheltered beneath a table like a cowering sentry. The low light gave this most recent iteration of Magor’s ongoing installation One Bedroom Apartment, 1996–, a decidedly melancholic cast, redoubled by

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  • Letter from Beijing

    A FEW WEEKS AGO, MY WECHAT FEED was flooded by the same message: Pace is closing its Beijing outpost. In an interview with Artnews, the gallery’s founder, Arne Glimcher, observed, “It’s impossible to do business in mainland China right now and it has been for a while.” Glimcher attributed this stagnation of business, on the one hand, to the recent rise in trade tariffs and, on the other, to China’s economic slowdown. As a former associate director of Pace Beijing, I cannot help but reminisce about that summer evening eleven years ago—a week before the start of the Beijing Olympics—at the opening

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  • A Letter from Artists in the Whitney Biennial

    The following letter is addressed to Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta, curators of the 2019 Whitney Biennial. The signatories submitted it to Artforum for public release.

    Dear Ru and Jane,

    We respectfully ask you to withdraw our work from the Whitney Biennial for the remainder of the show. This request is intended as condemnation of Warren Kanders’ continued presence as Vice Chair of the Board. We would appreciate if you presented this letter to the Board to let them know the seriousness of the situation.

    We care deeply about the Whitney. Over the years, many shows at the Museum have inspired and

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  • The Tear Gas Biennial

    WARREN B. KANDERS DIDN’T EARN HIS PLACE as vice chair of the board at the Whitney Museum of American Art through his good taste alone. He has also used some of his estimated $700 million fortune to make tax-deductible donations to support exhibitions at the museum. What successful enterprise has made this generosity possible? Thanks to the collective, years-long effort of activists, students, and reporters to bring everyday brutality to light, we could tell you quite a lot about Kanders’s company Safariland, which does a brisk trade supplying batons, handcuffs, holsters, and body armor to police

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  • Photo Op

    I FLASH my SFMOMA lifetime artist membership card, and the woman at the counter asks me, “What do you have in the collection?” Her question gets me tense. A few months after the museum sent me the card in the mail—a total surprise—some brainiac in acquisitions questioned my eligibility, and they threatened to revoke my membership. See me on the phone, shouting at a museum bureaucrat, “You’ve got to be kidding me! This is beyond tacky.” I do not know if this cheerful woman now is just being chatty or if this is a test. I tell her my husband has a piece in the Kikibox. She looks confused and asks,

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  • Subject Lessons

    IN MARCH, Isaac Julien’s show “Lessons of the Hour – Frederick Douglass” premiered at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, a week before it opened at Metro Pictures in New York during Armory Week. I caught a flight upstate for a weekend of events surrounding the debut and was toured around sites important both to Douglass’s life and to Julien’s process, including the George Eastman Museum, the graves of Anna Murray Douglass and Douglass, and Highland Park—the location of a 120-year-old bronze statue of Douglass, the first public monument in the country to memorialize a black American. Julien’s

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