COLUMNS

  • The Double Consciousness of the Lincoln Memorial

    THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL, designed by Henry Bacon, honors Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States. To many Americans, the memorial is a testimony to the Civil War, a reminder that the Union was once divided. It is commonly assumed that 620,000 Americans died in that war over the question of slavery. Many maintain that Lincoln prosecuted the war on moral grounds. He believed there was no moral justification for slavery, an exceptionally cruel practice that involved kidnapping African people, selling them on auction blocks, and forcing them to work without compensation as if they

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  • On the Ground: Pittsburgh

    PITTSBURGH IS A CITY OF THREE RIVERS and many more bridges, the latter cutting across steeply rising banks verdant and overgrown from a year of record rainfall. In many ways this is still Andrew Carnegie’s Appalachia, with the Carnegie International—this year sited exclusively in the institution if not the actual building that he opened in 1895—an emphatically historical bequest. Ingrid Schaffner, a Pittsburgh native, suggested as much in her opening remarks to the fifty-seventh edition, which she helmed, calling the show “august” and everywhere relating it to its place of becoming.

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  • A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNING

    A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNING

    after the rain hit

    the creosote the sun

    hit it & a fragrance

    wild & sweet was hitting

    me, a springtime

    sensation of rising seed

    confusing the seasons

    undoing the doom i clasp

    & unclasp like the warm

    gem in the keats poem

    but this was not the prescription

    you asked for

    & the moon is full

    not new. i came to truth or

    consequences for my

    own safety. i had passed

    thru the doors of bellevue

    under the sign “EMPLOYES” (sic.)

    to face my parent

    in donated shoes, without

    her wig, clothed in hospital

    issue pajamas & all her illusions

    scummy, like an old fish

    cooked to death

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  • VITAL GORGON

    ONE OF THE OLDEST #MeToo episodes dates back more than two thousand years, and would have entered the canon of great Greek tragedy had the forefathers of Western patriarchy deigned to give it the appropriate status. But they did not—instead, they rewrote the main character’s story. For Medusa, she of the serpent mane and petrifying fame, is an interpretation of the Gorgoneion, or “Gorgon head” (gorgós being Greek for “dreadful”), an archaic protective emblem that was plastered on pottery, architectural and carriage ornaments, coins, and protective armor throughout Asia Minor and the

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  • On the Ground: Chicago

    I DECIDED I WOULD SOMEDAY MOVE TO CHICAGO when I was in the ninth grade, as I stood in a hotel bathroom scrubbing a henna tattoo off of my arm. Prom was coming up, and my Pentecostal boyfriend thought the shooting star I’d acquired at the Navy Pier looked “trampy.” We were on our high school’s band trip to the city, marking my first adventure without my parents, who were back at home in Iowa, on the brink of a poisonous divorce. The illusion of freedom that Chicago offered was intoxicating, and I began to see a city I could aspire to: She had neither time for controlling men nor other people’s

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  • Days of Awe

    ONE TIME WHEN I WAS ON MUSHROOMS Richard Pryor took possession of my body and proceeded to give a lecture to me and my friends on the origins of hot peppers and the true meaning of wheat.

    He explained that how hot peppers got hot was terrible things were done to them, especially with fire—they were horrifically burned, in sick and twisted ways—which led to great strife and suffering on the part of the peppers. He continued that indeed the only way for a piece of matter to transmit heat and energy is for great heat and energy to have been transmitted into it. All of this was communicated not the

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  • PALACE IN PLUNDERLAND

    IT’S HARD THESE DAYS to stand out as a performance space in New York. Every arts venue in the city seems to be developing a hybrid visual art and performance program: the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, the Park Avenue Armory, Performance Space New York. Even the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a performing arts series. So what’s a new cultural venue to do? One idea is to make it really, really big—say, two hundred thousand square feet. Another might be to hire Diller Scofidio + Renfro to design an eye-catching structure with some kind

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  • Desiring to Understand

    In conjunction with our special feature on what, where, who, and when is Enlightenment in the Summer 2018 issue of Artforum, scholar Jennifer Uleman contributes thoughts on the phenomenology and reality of reason.

    IN 2004, I was part of a public debate, designed to take up a controversy, engage the off-campus community, and maybe generate new dues-paying members of our departmental Friends of Philosophy. The debate was on same-sex marriage. Like most of the audience, I was in favor, qualms about heteronormativity notwithstanding; the university’s Catholic chaplain was against. We were in Miami.

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  • In the Skin of a Lion

    LATE IN THE SUMMER OF 1999 I was in love with a crust punk. We met one night when he and his friend panhandled me after I couldn’t get into a nightclub. Well maybe it was more of a bar. I don’t know because I couldn’t get in. I didn’t have a fake ID. Anyway, the friend was pale and skinny, scabs up his greenish arms. He just made the guy, who said his name was Johnny, look better. Johnny was hale and tan in his boots and ripped t-shirt. He got kicked out of seventh grade, he said, for reading Isaac Asimov, and out of his girlfriend’s Boston College dorm because he wanted her to open her eyes

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  • All My Trials

    THE MATERNAL BODY INCLUDES THE CHILD. The maternal body includes the dilated aura inside and outside the body that admits, and nourishes, another: thus it is also the enveloping aura into which consensual lovers are welcomed. And the magic space that is ripped open when thieves enter looking for easy wealth and plunder. The cultures now ruling the planet treat it similarly.

    Textbook medical astrology will tell you Cancer rules the breasts/chest, the stomach, and the alimentary canal. Which, it seems to me, would include not only what extends from the buccal opening but also our first channel for

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  • Nocturne

    In conjunction with our special feature on what, where, who, and when is Enlightenment in the Summer 2018 issue of Artforum, scholar A.B. Huber contributes thoughts on darkness below.

    A 2001 ATLAS OF NIGHT SKY BRIGHTNESS suggests that light emissions from sites of habitation, industry, and transit shroud the earth in a radiant haze. Satellite views of earth testify to a profound and widespread loss of nighttime darkness, and the atlas “provides a nearly global picture of how mankind [sic] is proceeding to envelop itself in a luminous fog.” Beneath this fog it can seem human eyes never close, not

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  • Satori

    In conjunction with our special feature on what, where, who, and when is Enlightenment in the Summer 2018 issue of Artforum, writer Michelle Tea contributes her response below.

    I ATE THE ENLIGHTENMENT IN A COOKIE. It did nothing. I was twenty-four years old and had spent Christmas morning at the home of an acquaintance, not even much of a friend, not really. A DJ with a shaved head and pierced septum, obsessed with Chinese ghost movies. A jolly person whose home contained oddities – a taxidermy bat; a photo of her own ass, splotched from a heavy spanking, pinned to the refrigerator. In her kitchen,

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