COLUMNS

  • Tate Awakening

    “SHAME ON TATE.” This chant reverberated at a protest organized by dozens of staffers with PCS Tate United and PCS Culture Group on Monday, ensuring that no visitor to London’s Tate Modern—newly reopened after four months due to the pandemic—could think it accepted or normal for the institution to threaten 334 employees of its commercial arm, Tate Enterprises, with redundancy. The decimation of jobs is completely preventable, workers argue, and political. Ultimately, Tate’s board decides on resource allocations, and the Prime Minister appoints thirteen out of fourteen members. Monday’s protest

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  • Poppy and Recollection

    “I didn’t think it was physically possible, but this both sucks AND blows.” —Bart Simpson

    THE VIRUS BROUGHT STRANGE BEDFELLOWS, but then again so did the uprising. You didn’t love the smell of your own breath behind your mask. Neither did you love certain things about yourself that had formerly been easier to escape.

    Confinement led to masses of people finally catching the thought: human beings should not be put in cages. Instagram became a pedagogical tool, rather than merely the matrix of DIY propaganda. Then it slid back. “For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer.” So it says in the Book

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  • OCCIDENTAL TOURISTS

    ORIENTALIST PAINTING dates back at least to the Renaissance but was especially popular from the early nineteenth century to the early twentieth, a period that tellingly coincided with the heyday of colonialism. Intent on displaying “Oriental” (read: Ottoman and Arab, mostly) life in all its strangeness and colorfulness, artists working in this subgenre of academic painting espoused a number of thematic categories that accounted for most of their output. These included portraits of Oriental stereotypes (tribal chieftains, guards, or mystics), street views or interiors, sun-drenched picturesque

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  • American Degeneracy

    SOME HAVE BEEN INCLINED to view the recent removal of Civil War monuments as a turn away from the past. To many of us, however, it is a prompt not for less but rather for more history—which is to say more clear-eyed, more unflinching, more detailed historical inquiry—that would help us better understand the circumstances under which those markers were erected in the first place, often decades after the war’s end.

    This is just one of many stories comprising that history, one that I think should be better known.

    In 1916, a new monthly magazine appeared on the US art scene. Published in New York,

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  • Square Roots

    FOR MOST OF US, the threat of disease is a largely invisible one. This is what makes it so pernicious: Often we cannot even see its symptoms. Coronavirus could be anywhere. But the pandemic has rapidly developed a distinct visual culture. The oddly beguiling 3-D visualization of the virus created by Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins at the Center for Disease Control has become the default symbol for Covid-19, and as Americans have grown more accustomed to covering their faces, parody images of masked public statuary and even topiary circulate widely. But perhaps the most pervasive of Covid imagery

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  • THE MOTHER OF ALL SEASONS

    I’LL WRITE THE HYPOSTASIS OF BECKY AND KAREN, I thought, but then a stalker showed up at my house, and I was overworked, but I had to deal with that, and think on things I never think on, for example my own safety, for example my own protection. Zoom swelled like a buboe and popped. The stalker had driven from Michigan to deliver a mug to me, he said, to thank me for having written my last book, showed up on my back porch and wouldn’t leave. 

    I can’t write about the fact that the partner of a new student of mine was shot by white supremacists four days ago. I thought I might manage to write about

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  • Anniversary

    MONDAY, JUNE 15, is the anniversary of the death of writer Kevin Killian, who was my husband for thirty-three years. The thought of spending it alone during San Francisco’s shelter-in-place both terrifies and numbs me. I have discovered that I have an enormous capacity for numbness, which continues to surprise me. Before Kevin’s death, I couldn’t bear to think about the horrors of widowhood. Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking seemed like the most dangerous book in the world; I wouldn’t touch it. After he died, I read it compulsively.

    For all other anniversaries this past year, I went to

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  • Teach-Out

    THIS PAST APRIL, during a fractious Zoom meeting between the faculty and trustees of the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), the phrase “the house is on fire” was uttered multiple times. SFAI has faced existential threats more than once in its 149-year history: In the fires that ravaged San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake, the school literally burned to the ground. Although no act of God, the slow-moving crisis that has left the college too precarious to weather the current pandemic is no less intractable. At an institution where tuition and student fees reportedly account for 85 percent

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  • The Wheels of Joey

    AS I WAS BIKING TO MY FRIEND REL’S to retrieve a needle and some fresh material to read during quarantine, I saw an ominous calling card casually hanging from a door on Onderdonk Street. It read ROMAN EMPIRE LOGISTICS LLC, conjuring in my mind the image of flimsy gladiator breastplates being fed to lions. I presumed it was a realtor’s moniker, but later discovered it was a “fleet logistics company” contracted by Amazon to deliver packages during the pandemic. I even learned that this small enterprise was ahead of the socially responsible curve, requiring employees to wear face masks as early as

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  • An Interview with Jabari Brisport

    This interview was conducted before the insurgency in New York City that began on May 28; in a brief update on June 4, Jabari added: “This is the city of Amadou Diallo, the city of Sean Bell, the city of Eric Garner. We’ve been pushing to defund the NYPD by $1 billion over four years, out of their total budget of $6 billion, but the situation is now moving so fast that it feels like maybe we should go further than that. I saw the proposal to dismantle the police department in Minneapolis; why not in New York?”



    ABOUT A THOUSAND YEARS AGO in experiential time, Bernie Sanders ended his bid for

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  • Daily Drawings: Week Seven

    As people around the world stay indoors to curb the spread of Covid-19, Artforum has invited artists to share a drawing—however they would like to define the word—made in self-isolation. Check back each day this week for a new work by a different artist.

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  • Reading Revolution

    ARTFORUM SUPPORTS the nationwide protests against police brutality and the killing of George Floyd and countless other Black people and denounces the escalation of violence by police and those who profit from the carceral state. Racial capitalism and settler colonialism are foundational to the United States. Below is an incomplete and developing list of intellectual resources for organizers and participants in the ongoing work of prison abolition and a future without police, incarceration, or deportation.

    We encourage feedback in the work ahead and wish safety for all the protestors in the streets.

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