Bolaño in the Americas: Old Debates Demand New Language

Bolaño in the Americas: Old Debates Demand New Language

On Friday, August 11, 2017, and throughout the subsequent weekend, Elle Reeve, a correspondent for VICE News Tonight, was embedded with an extremist cell that had traveled to North Carolina to attend the “Unite the Right” rally, which brought together the disparate alt-right confederacy. They came with guns. “They’re supposedly here to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee,” Reeve says in a documentary that aired that Sunday. “But they’re really here to show that they’re more than an internet meme—that they’re a big, real presence that can organize in physical space.”

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Animal Farm

Animal Farm

The trouble with invoking an allegory is that one expects the reference itself to remain allegorical. It becomes a guiding principle, or else it leads people astray. This is even more true with a sprawling show. Animal Farm is, of course, a reference to George Orwell’s 1945 allegory for Stalinism, in which an idealistic group of farm animals, led by two revolutionary pigs, ossifies into a replica of the state. It’s also, according to Artforum, a reference to an Amazon ad that targeted Laska after the 2016 election, recommending the recent addition to the best-seller list as antidote to the new regime. The phrase “Orwellian” connotes more so the ominous continuity of 1984’s technocracy than Animal Farm’s false prophets and dangerous allure of ideals. The problem is that by invoking the latter, Laska’s Animal Farm suggests the existence of the former—in art, that is, not just politics. 

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What’s Left Behind

What’s Left Behind

We call them “cave paintings” because that’s where we’ve found them, but there’s evidence, in fact, that the entire landscape that humans crossed was once coated in the scrawls of early people who left marks in their wake. Unsealed and exposed, most have faded or washed away. One can imagine that when Merrill Wagner rode the train twice each summer between New York and Washington the landscape blended into a semblance of this ancestral form: lakes rushing into horizontal cerulean strokes, mountains opening themselves into vast ochre plateaus, an endless forest of trees absent names like redwood, hornbeam, and fir, identifiable with a yet-unspoken word encompassing them all—indelible strokes of colored dirt spanning from coast to coast

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When Artists Buy Art

When Artists Buy Art

When photographer and film director Larry Clark published his first photobook in 1971, it wasn’t Tulsa’s frank depiction of drug-use, sexuality, and violence that caused a stir.  Photography had long looked at the disaffected. It was the collapse of any objective distance. Clark wasn’t an passive observer, he was one of them. There’s also a way in which Clark’s private art collection, which began sometime in the 1960s, reflects a deeply personal attachment to art and images.

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Content Is King

Content Is King

On Easter Day, a photo appeared before me as I scrolled through my feed, the kind they call a “thumb-stopper” because it pauses the stream. Perhaps you’ve seen it, or one like it—lately there have been many. A frame from a video, streamed live but cached for viewing, recorded in Cleveland: A man (elderly, black, wearing a cap and wire-rimmed glasses, holding a plastic bag) with someone’s arm, leading directly from the camera, holding a pistol to his head.

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Casting JonBenét

Casting JonBenét

The fundamental question of Kitty Green’s documentary is, “What did these actors believe they were taking part in?” At a certain point, I imagine director Kitty Green let the actors in on the gag: that this film isn’t about the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, a 6-year-old girl and beauty pageant contestant, but rather a film about the public’s morbid obsessions with it, and how that event shaped their lives.

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Interviews with Four Global Galleries at Frieze

Interviews with Four Global Galleries at Frieze

At Frieze New York, the heavy-weights are out in full force: Gagosian exhibited three walls packed with paintings and drawings by John Currin, almost all of which sold on preview day alone. But with the same galleries concurrently showing their own blockbuster shows, the real appeal to Frieze is hopping on a ferry and getting out of the city. With this in mind, I interviewed four galleries that a New Yorker can't go see any day of the week, representing South Africa, Romania, Argentina, and São Paulo.

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The Revolution Will Be Crowd-Funded

The Revolution Will Be Crowd-Funded

Arguably the most important painting of the last century, Pablo Picasso’s Guernica was exhibited during the outbreak of WWII, rousing support for European and American anti-fascist movements—no longer seen as solely the interest of radical Leftists. The Greatest Generation was awoken, in a sense, by a painting. But for all the good their Guernica indirectly inspired, the collapse of the Third Reich has since become a sort of moral permission slip for abuses committed by contemporary democratic governments, threatening to destabilize the most peaceful period in the history of the world. Late last year, the children of the Greatest Generation brought to power a postmodern demagogue, raising the question once again of what power art can have in such an environment.

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Artistry Vs. Novelty: Wolf Lieser on Virtual Reality as Art

Artistry Vs. Novelty: Wolf Lieser on Virtual Reality as Art

The director of the Digital Art Museum in Berlin breaks down the promise and limitations of virtual reality.

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Stand-Out Artists at SPRING/BREAK

Stand-Out Artists at SPRING/BREAK

Twenty-three stories above Times Square, the windows of the former Vanity Fair offices frame views that look like Michael Wolf photos. Across 43rd St, workers sit at desks, floors of cubicles above cubicles, corner office above corner office. The cold remove, far above the tourist masses, makes for a fitting backdrop for SPRING/BREAK, which has asked its exhibitors this year to curate autobiographical work on the theme of “Black Mirror,” a device used by the Old Masters to isolate a subject from its surroundings. It was a risky stipulation in danger of encouraging the solipsistic, but it mostly paid off. Over 150 curators have brought in over 400 artists—here are eight artists in particular who stood out.

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Why I Am Not a Tech Writer

Why I Am Not a Tech Writer

This summer, Wired declared 2016 the year movies ceased to matter. Their evidence? No one saw this one superhero movie, or those who did weren’t tweeting about it. Instead, the writer’s feed was bulked by chatter of Game of Thrones, Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” and “dank memes.” Besides, movies have been around forever anyway. Our third Michelangelo will be a Content Creator, and Amazon their Medici. Get used to it.

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Elsewhere Is a Negative Mirror

Elsewhere Is a Negative Mirror

Elsewhere Is a Negative Mirror ran in London from Oct 6–Dec 15, 2016, and featured work by Clement Valla, Griselda San Martin, Netta Laufer, and more.

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Margot Bergman: The Truer Face

Margot Bergman: The Truer Face

The vultus, a Latin word that has no equivalent in Indo-European languages or ancient Greek, is the face that lies latent behind every image of a person. In an essay titled “An Idea of Glory,” Giorgio Agamben wrote that the vultus “isn’t something that transcends the face: it is the revelation of the face in all of its nakedness, victory over character.”

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Yoshiaki Mochizuki’s Shifting Light

Yoshiaki Mochizuki’s Shifting Light

When the light shifts, Yoshiaki Mochizuki’s paintings come alive. Surfaces that seem like dull mirrors shift into prismatic events as light is corralled in the gouged layers of gesso and moon gold leaf. “Summer Solstice,” takes its name from the sun’s passage over a languorous summer day, and the harsh-shadow trail it casts over beaches and sunbathers on rooftops and in city parks. These works, like sun-burnished skin, take time to reveal themselves, with the best, most robust color appearing only after the light has completed its course around the circumference of a body.

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Olaf Rauh and the Game of Photography

Olaf Rauh and the Game of Photography

In the fall of 2001, a time when the entire city seemed suspended, the German photographer Olaf Rauh crossed the playgrounds of Manhattan’s Lower East Side with an early digital camcorder and captured these sites at moments of disuse. Their barren quietude is not the only anomaly: the footage he shot, encoded as low-res MPEG-1 files, appears full of chromatic distortions.

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