Mourning, Militancy, and Messiness

I keep imagining what History Keeps Me Awake At Night  would have looked and felt like had the curators been less sure of their interpretations. If David Wojnarowicz's paintings didn't have to buckle under the enormous pressure of acting as symbols of resistance and rage; if they were simply the documents of an individual struggling to form a visual language.

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Vacant Presence

Though it's been said over and and over that the kills-people-but-leaves-structures-intact concept is a misunderstanding, I still have faith that if a neutron bomb were dropped near Jesse Darling's and Julia Phillips' works, they would withstand the blow. Like cockroaches, the dreadful material of hospitals and doctors' offices is seemingly indestructible and will long outlast us.

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Improvisational Readership

Amelia Jones crucially resists the notion that embodied presence in the space of live performance provides the viewer privileged access to the meaning or truth  of these acts; I have work to do in order to practice a more critical stance toward the primacy of sight or touch in the acts of looking and reading.

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Queer Charisma

"Room for Cream" is tinged with the queer feeling that you might already be part of its production. It may present a utopia of sorts, one that its own instability does little to blemish, but it is the rare kind of charm that turns outward from itself into the world of the "real." By rupturing so clearly into the social dynamics it describes, "Room for Cream" asks to be seen not only as a production—with its camp, humor, absurdity, staging—but as a provocation, an inquiry into the fashioning and maintenance of queer sociality and how it might be differently imagined.

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Who Owns Public Space?

Public space has always been a contested realm; the questions of who is seen, heard, and permitted to take up space feel eternally relevant. These are, in short, questions of power, and which groups wield it. In 2017, however—with its political spectacles, airport sit-ins, massive protests, and monuments both toppled and fixed—American public space is uniquely fraught.

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On Mundanity

The diaristic form made public assumes a level of broad interest in what are the granular particularities of one's life, which is made especially clear in the success of the memoirs of celebrities. In the marathon writing of Karl Ove Knausgaard and the travel-diary text-photographs of Teju Cole, we see two different invitations into the mundanity of the everyday lives of others.

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Loneliness Studies

There is a fine and at times undetectable line between reading affect into artwork and diagnosing it with the inflections of biography. In The Lonely City,  Olivia Laing manages to posthumously pathologize the loneliness of four canonical artists, despite criticizing that exact impulse, underscoring the ease with which we do so.

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An Aesthetic Headache

It is difficult to overstate that even at a time when museum programming is rapidly expanding in the arenas of visitor services and engagement—with initiatives like mindfulness and yoga that encourage forms of bodily engagement within the institution beyond the gallery stroll—it is still a novelty to touch the art on view.

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Disaster Art, Disaster Activism

The work of Rebecca Solnit and Paul Chan, for all its topical similarity, seems to offer two diverging tactics for the role of artist as activist (or activist as artist). Chan manages to integrate art and activism simultaneously, rather than one after the other, and understands the redemptive possibilities of violence as a community- and coalition-building tactic.

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Real Violence

Violence isn't neutral and can't be divorced from its object and subject. Violence will always carry with it its own context, which neither Jordan Wolfson nor the curators of the Whitney Biennial can erase by merely modifying the word "violence" with other words like "unexplained" or "pure."

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Worst Fear, Best Fantasy

In the realm of politics, a one-person protest is a failure. Shifted to a different context, Sharon Hayes's solo demonstrations open up possibilities a large-scale protest never could. If art is to continue to hold a space for itself within the arena of politics, it needs to make room for indeterminate speech acts like those of Hayes. 

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Print on Demand

The Palestinian artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme weaponize their paper ephemera against the state. Their installation appears precarious, but is actually comprised of PDFs sturdier than a centuries-old document. While the colonial archive in its physical form now faces the vast labor of digitization, the digital Palestinian archive is deployed physically at will. Its materialization serves as a warning signal.

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Bad Apples

Since my foray into fermentation began, I've been searching for a grand unified theory on the phenomenon: not the mechanisms of the process itself, but why it's currently popular. Between the sliminess, the sour smells, the sharp tastes, and the implications of death and decay, fermentation invites the question of why we are expending resources, in various ways, for bugs in our food. In You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, Alexandra Kleeman's dystopia of embodiment, Kleeman's main character marvels at the impossibility of knowing one's own body. "Inside a body there is no light," she muses. "Anything could be inside." Fermentation cuts through the confusing substance of the body by facilitating an osmosis of bugs and guts into the mainstream discourse around food, health, and consumption.

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Socialism, Barbarism, and Fatigue

Part of Hannah Black's intention is to unravel the either/or opposition of socialism and barbarism: "society and barbarity...[are] already here." Laughing tiredly along the antagonistic sidewalks of New York, running to catch subways that weren't themselves running, and hailing expensive cabs in lieu of those, my friend and I marveled at the idea that anyone here would need a reminder that barbarism is alive and well.

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