COLUMNS

  • Point Blank

    The gun and the readymade

    IT IS GUNS.

    Such is the common refrain of gun safety advocates in the wake of these constant horrors. I started drafting this piece following the racist massacre of ten Black grocery shoppers in Buffalo, New York. Then, nineteen children and two of their teachers were murdered in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. As I revised, at least four were killed at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, followed by more carnage the following weekend. Beyond these widely covered mass shootings, the steady drumbeat of gun-related death continues to claim hundreds of lives each day in the United States. While

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  • Ethereal Presence

    NFTs and the theater of risk

    At the round earths imagin’d corners, blow

    Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, arise

    From death, you numberlesse infinities

    Of soules, and to your scattred bodies goe,

    All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,

    All whom warre, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,

    Despaire, law, chance, hath slaine, and you whose eyes,

    Shall behold God, and never tast deaths woe.

    But let them sleepe, Lord, and mee mourne a space,

    For, if above all these, my sinnes abound

    ’Tis late to aske abundance of thy grace,

    When wee are there; here on this lowly ground,

    Teach mee how to repent; for that’s as good

    As if thou’hadst seal’d

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  • Get Out

    Tehching Hsieh’s art of survival in America

    ON A STOOP IN TRIBECA just south of Houston, Tehching Hsieh was drinking tea. It was February 1982. Six months had elapsed since the artist embarked on his third One Year Performance, for which he declared he would “stay outdoors for one year” and refuse to enter any “building, subway, train, car, airplane, ship, cave, tent.” A record-breakingly cold winter expelled even the memory of warmth from the city, and Hsieh had allowed his hair, normally kept at a military buzz, to grow into an untidy mane. Together with his sleeping bag and weathered backpack (where he stowed his camera), he must have

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  • Viral Content

    The unnerving resonance of Diego Rivera’s Vaccination

    OVER THE COURSE of the past couple of years, I’ve kept coming back to the image of Diego Rivera’s Vaccination. I can’t get it out of my head. The primary reason should be fairly obvious: This is arguably the most iconic and widely recognized artistic treatment of a subject that many of us have been reading, talking, and thinking about incessantly during the pandemic. But there’s more to it than that. If conventional accounts would lead us to expect mural art to be direct, didactic, and declarative, Rivera’s image is anything but. Its effect is subtly disquieting; it gets under your skin. Measured

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  • FOOD FOR THOUGHT

    Colby Chamberlain on Alison Knowles

    FEW TITLES ENCAPSULATE an exhibition’s argument as succinctly as “by Alison Knowles: A Retrospective (1960–2022).” Curator Karen Moss borrows that “by” from a slim volume of the same name, a collection of the artist’s compositions issued through the “Great Bear” pamphlet series of Something Else Press in 1965. The preposition’s pliability is the point. Most obviously, “by” denotes authorship, as in a corpus of texts written by Alison Knowles, yet it also suggests facilitation, a process brought about by means of Alison Knowles, or proximity, i.e., close by Alison Knowles. In a work by Alison

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  • A LANDSCAPE WE ALL HELP TO MAKE

    Barry Schwabsky on Rackstraw Downes

    WHATEVER YOU THINK realism means, Rackstraw Downes is certainly some kind of realist—and, moreover, one whose elective subject matter is landscape. That in itself suggests a quixotic temperament in an artist born in 1939 whose immediate contemporaries include any number of abstract, Conceptual, and performance artists but few realists—at least of his stature.

    And even among painters pursuing realism in his generation, Downes looks like an outsider. Despite the fact that he edited a valuable collection of Fairfield Porter’s writings, there’s nothing in his work of the intimism and subjectivity of

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  • LUST FOR LIFE

    Hannah Stamler on Suzanne Valadon

    A SELF-PORTRAIT from 1911 shows Suzanne Valadon at work, presumably creating the image before us. Holding a paint-streaked palette, she turns slightly to the right with lips pursed and eyes narrowed, likely scrutinizing her reflection in a mirror beyond the frame. When Valadon made the portrait, at age forty-six, she would have been quite accustomed to holding a pose. Raised by a single mother in Montmartre, heady epicenter of the Parisian avant-garde, she began working as an artist’s model at the age of fifteen, sitting for the likes of Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec, her friend and lover, who

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  • The Nothing Special

    On The Andy Warhol Diaries

    “When things actually do happen to you, it’s like watching TV,” Andy Warhol once observed. But what is that like? Last month, Netflix released The Andy Warhol Diaries, a six-episode adaptation of the eponymous 1989 book compiled by Pat Hackett, who received the artist’s dictations over the phone almost every morning during the last decade of his life. Unsure of what to make of this intimate, fragmented portrait, we invited Bruce Hainley and Kristian Vistrup Madsen to talk it out.

    KRISTIAN VISTRUP MADSEN: Episode 1 is haunted (first by the E! True Hollywood Story format of the interviewees, their

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  • Letters from Kyiv

    A wartime diary by Yevgenia Belorusets

    Yevgenia left Kyiv on April 5 and is currently in Warsaw en route to Venice, where her diary will be exhibited as part of the the Biennale. She plans to resume writing when she returns to Kyiv. This diary is copublished with ISOLARII.

    DAY 35 (WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30): IN THE NERVE CENTER OF CATASTROPHE

    THE ROOM I GREW UP IN no longer corresponds to the life I lead—the life that is unfolding outside the window. Looking around, it feels like a child’s room that was abandoned a long time ago. And now I have to spend the night here again. The room tells a story of peace that I can’t take seriously anymore

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  • On the Hook

    Trauma, transference, and the art of Bracha L. Ettinger

    AT A CERTAIN POINT in one’s career as a psychoanalyst, transference becomes a rare and longed for feeling. Constantly in the position of negotiating the transference of others, one struggles to muster that great and passionate illusion for oneself. Bracha L. Ettinger is one of my last teachers. I’ve had a sense for some time that she knows something very precious and particular about the most obscure and complicated aspects of psychoanalytic work, which she investigates not only in her self-analysis and work with patients, but in her art. She is the only psychoanalyst I know who is also an artist

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  • Disney Plus

    Revolt and Rococo at the Met

    BEWARE THE DECORATIVE EXCESS that leads to violent revolution. At once aesthetic and political, this cautionary tale provides the standard explanation for the relationship between the exuberant usable arts of the Rococo and the stern history paintings of classicism, as well as between monarchy and modern democracy. It is now on persuasive display at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, in two exhibitions: “Inspiring Walt Disney: the Animation of French Decorative Arts,” and “Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman.”  

    As I entered the “Disney” exhibition, I overheard a caretaker ask a tiny girl

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  • SIGNATURE WORK

    Jeffrey Weiss on Bruce Nauman’s His Mark

    THE IMAGE IN HIS MARK, 2021, should be familiar to observers of Bruce Nauman’s work: the artist’s disembodied hands performing a mechanical task. We have encountered it in several multichannel-video installations over the past twelve years, including For Beginners (all the combinations of thumb and fingers), 2010, in which each hand individually demonstrates finger positions for the performance of a series of piano exercises by Béla Bartók, and Thumb Start, 2013, with fingers, now on both hands at once, extended in combinations that represent a set of basic counting procedures. In turn, these

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