COLUMNS

  • On the Ground: Dubai

    DO YOU REMEMBER THE DIALUP HANDSHAKE? Numbers being punched, assorted squeal-y gurgling, a series of high and low tones, and then the extended white noise? Dubai’s past decade of overtures towards the international art world felt a lot like this. The initial plaintive trilling gave way to a charging, moneyed insistence familiar to anyone on the global art circuit. We’ve finally logged on, and now it’s time to turn inward for phase two.

    In the mid-2000s, I would drive past a massive billboard hugging the side of the highway. It depicted a rendering of a new downtown development with scooped-out

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  • Reinventing the Lyre

     The world’s full of children who grew up too fast

    Gil Scott-Heron, “A Sign of the Ages”

    WITHIN A FEW HOURS OF HIS BIRTH, Hermes had already become a cattle thief, invented the lyre, & innovated the art of divine worship. “The alphabet, numbers, astronomy, music, the art of fighting, gymnastics, the cultivation of the olive tree, measures, weights, and many other things” were among his inventions, according to Plutarch. Hermes was both the herald of the gods and their psychopomp, as friendly with the ruling powers on Mount Olympus as he was with the living and the dead of our kind. He managed

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  • Life As We Know It

    I MOVED TO NEW YORK WHEN I WAS SEVENTEEN. During the first few years I lived in the city, men came up to me daily, and often many times daily, asking to take my picture. Even at the time I was certain this was not because they considered me beautiful. I felt that I must look vulnerable. I knew that I looked vulnerable and I cursed myself for it. I needed to become tougher. But I also wanted to be beautiful and desired, to look like a blushing creature of whom a parent might say, “If he so much as harms a hair on your head.”

    I had no parent to say such a thing to me. I was an orphan and it showed.

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  • The Unbearable Lightness of Paris / I Know What I Did Last Summer

    Since I’m already screwed

    Here’s a message to you

    My heart’s wide open

    I’m just not getting through to the lover in you

    Yet I’m still hoping

    That tonight, tonight, you’re gonna turn down the lights

    And give me a little more room just to prove it to you

    THAT’S HOW SHE PUT IT ON “SCREWED,” the eighth track of her debut album, Paris, released in August 2006. Screwed, with an open heart and hope for a little more room, that’s as much as any femme is allowed to be in this world.

    Bio: She was born in the 1980s in Los Angeles to wealth and privilege. Her middle name is Whitney. Her middle name is Katharine.

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  • Infernal Affairs

    God’s Justice! who could ever paraphrase

    the agonies and tortures that I saw?

    And why did I feel guilty as I gazed?


    —Dante Alighieri, Inferno, translated by Ciaran Carson (2002)

    1. THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG

    I’M AT AN artists’ colony editing a book about fowl and infinity. Every night the chickens here get sung a lullaby written especially for them by a Pulitzer Prize winning composer. It’s an insipid little ditty but it works. It is sung seven nights a week by two to five highly accomplished artists of the almost always female persuasion. Right now I’m one of them.

    Singing to chickens is like a parody

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  • Michel Houellebecq

    IN HIS 2016 BOOK Mémoires d’outre-France, Gavin Bowd, a lifelong Marxist and close friend of Michel Houellebecq, reminisced about a night spent drinking with the novelist in Paris’s thirteenth arrondissement. “I will give an interview in which I call for a civil war to rid France of Islam!” Houellebecq exclaimed. “I’ll tell people to vote for Marine Le Pen!” The mini media scandal that ensued following the book’s publication was hardly unprecedented in France, where Houellebecq is known for incendiary declarations. He has also spoken out against a proposed law to fine the (male) clients of

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  • Michel Houellebecq

    THE MAP AND THE TERRITORY, Michel Houellebecq’s Prix Goncourt–winning 2010 novel, takes its epigraph from the fifteenth-century nobleman and poet Charles d’Orléans: “The world is weary of me, / And I am weary of it.” The sentiment will be instantly familiar to anyone acquainted with the celebrated, controversial French author’s work, which teems with an apparently inexhaustible array of sad sacks and misanthropes—the damaged, the soul-sick, the emotionally stunted. Among other things, The Map and the Territory is the story of an artist and a satire of a particular kind of cosmopolitan

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  • Extraction Point

    IF CADY NOLAND’S ART has over the years embodied a concern with “how to gain control in the face of chaos,” as Steven Parrino once put it, these anxieties continue to echo in her recent legal battles. In a lawsuit filed last month, Noland asserts that her name can no longer be associated with Log Cabin, a work she created in 1990. But her claims go even further: She declares that conservators’ material alterations to the sculpture’s facade (when they replaced decayed logs) created a new copy, violating her exclusive right to make new reproductions.

    The case submitted by her legal team invokes a

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  • Into the Storm

    APRIL 16, 2017 AT 2:24 PM EST

    Dearest Bruce,

    Today, a resurrection. 

    On Tuesday, as you recommended, I went to Light Industry to see Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield’s 1984 conversation, or portrait of, Craig Owens, part of Video Data Bank’s incredible interviews with artists and writers. This was some six years before he died, age thirty-nine, of—I rehearse the intolerable boilerplate—AIDS-related complications. 

    Eighty black-and-white minutes. Owens sits in a director’s chair in front of a makeshift backdrop—the zigzag of a wrinkled moving blanket. He talks and talks, always smoking. Or… he’s

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  • Above and Beyond

    “EVERYTHING has a schedule if you can find out what it is.” —John Ashbery

    On Labor Day, the sun in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces achieved perfect opposition. One way to translate this: The heart attempted austerity & sobriety under the crushing, carceral weight of delusions and dreams, my own and everyone else’s.

    There was a sheet of pure pain wound around my heart, like a postallergen sour gelatin or a Fruit Roll-Up for anhedonic adults you’d buy at Whole Foods. I’d been home two days. My mom had been fully homeless two days. North Korea had detonated a hydrogen bomb in those two days. I was trying

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  • Peak Peaks

    PARTS 1 & 2

    EUCALYPTUS TREES, WEAKENED BY DROUGHT, are on their last legs all over Los Angeles. One fell and knocked out the power lines next to my friend’s house, where I am staying, in Eagle Rock, and we stood on the deck drinking Vinho Verde––delicious, like if wine were beer––watching the action. A fire truck loitered for an hour, produced no helpers, and left. Disruption made the street its own neighborhood. Homeowners came out wondering, hands synchronized on hips. One man retrieved his digital camera and tripod and took commemorative photos. Another ambled the length of his driveway twice

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  • Harun Farocki’s final project

    Where does the wind come from? From the trees.

    How did the wind begin? Because the branches move.

    Do the branches make the wind? Yes.

    But how do the branches move? Because of the wind.

    —Jean Piaget, The Child’s Conception of Physical Causality (1930)

    SOME TWO YEARS before he died, Harun Farocki released the first installment of Parallel I–IV, 2012–14, the four-part film cycle that was to become his last major work. Whereas many of Farocki’s films explored polemical images of technology and violence—from the flying smart bombs that repeatedly appear in Eye/Machine I–III, 2000–2003, to

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