Public Humanities MA Student, Brown University. Previously: Delaware Art Museum/Fulbright Austria/Swarthmore. Arts/culture writer, future curator, lover of pop culture. email@example.com.
For We Are Everywhere, them.’s 2020 Pride issue, we invited artists Julie Mehretu, Lola Flash, Carlos Motta, and Vaginal Davis to discuss integral works of art from their careers. Below, we consider how they evoke a queerness that is about resistance, resiliency, and the creative will to envision a different future.
When your favorite band releases a new album, you want to love it. You want to be dazzled, to be moved, to feel goosebumps flicker across your skin ideally once per song (conservative estimate). You want to feel inspired to wrap yourself in all the new sounds and words, to draw constellations between these newest creations and to the songs that came before them, challenging yourself to envision how this new collection fits into a larger oeuvre.
Since the late 1990s, contemporary artists and architects from Japan and elsewhere have taken over a number of structures, all located within about a seven-minute walk from one another, and completely transformed them. These sites are interwoven into the everyday pathways and rhythms of the streets of the village of Honmura on the island, rendering the spaces at times indistinguishable from the residences and businesses surrounding them.
Loitering is delightful, the most recent show at Los Angeles’ Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Art Park, did not entirely fulfill its subversive and radical aims. Keeping in mind the increasing privatization of public space in the United States, and the growing lack of “third spaces” where people can simply exist, enjoy themselves, and not have to buy something to be permitted entry (like a public library or park), Loitering is delightful hoped to delve deep into what it means to linger, unhurried or moved along by the outside world, perhaps to the extent that it becomes taboo.
Edwynn Houk Gallery’s Arno Rafael Minkkinen: Fifty Years ambitiously uses fifteen individual black-and-white photographs to encompass the entirety of the photographer’s five-decade-long career. Minkkinen’s photographs have been carefully chosen to display how he pushes the limits of the form and subject matter--not only in the use of setting and figure but also in the variation of tone and emotional response, all without including a human face.
The David Winton Bell Gallery has its own work of art in which a banana is a key component: Dieter Roth’s Banana, a mixed-media work dating from 1966. Unlike Cattelan’s fresh yellow sample, Banana’s central element likely lost its fruit decades ago. Now a husk of brown cellulose peel, it lies smeared within a glass frame marked off with masking tape.
Halsey’s third studio album, Manic, is quintessentially an album about being in your twenties, about the muddle of being at what feels like the height of one’s youth and desirability while simultaneously being as uncertain and sensitive as you’ll likely ever be.
Klein’s photographs are sumptuously saturated images of the artist in various guises, acting out different roles in unknown, barely hinted-at stories in bathrooms, motel rooms, kitchens. None of the female subjects in these photographs seem happy, at the very least, while some of the images take the stylized, beautiful misery even further by hinting at (or depicting) their tragic deaths. Everything here is gorgeous ennui, cigarette smoke, and jewel-toned emptiness.
It’s a testament to the strength of Karen Rivers’ writing that You Are the Everything, which takes place entirely in the second person (and present tense), that you as the reader understand the disorientation as an effect of the writing style as well as the machinations of the plot and the unique idiosyncrasies of the protagonist.
Alla Kovgan’s Cunningham best exhibits the inherent tension between these two objectives of documentary filmmaking. It’s essentially a showcase of several of the late, great modern dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham’s most famous compositions, presented in evocative new settings and calibrated for 3-D viewing.
It’s a testament to the strength of the show that it not only introduces us to Pittman’s incredible range, but gives us enough depth to familiarise us with his recurring motifs and hallmarks, allowing us to find a thread through the galleries.
Drawing its title from the Yiddish saying “a Jew is 28 percent fear, 2 percent sugar, and 70 percent chutzpah,” Rosabel Rosalind Kurth-Sofer’s 70 Percent Chutzpah offers a guide on conversion to the curious would-be Jew. In the large-scale ink drawing installation, the section “Becoming a Jew: How to,” raises the specter of every Jewish stereotype in the book and shreds them in glorious, graphic fashion.
For those of you who can’t get the sleek mid-century style of Mad Men out of your mind, Providence, RI’s Emporium of Popular Culture will fulfill your wildest fantasies. It’s off the beaten path as far as Providence’s tourist impulses go—rather than strolling along the downtown financial district or by the river, the path to the Emporium of Popular Culture winds its way under the highway overpass and beneath the Providence Place Mall, followed by a series of empty-looking industrial streets.
Sue Coe’s Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die (1997) is startling and almost gothic in construction, steeped in a sense of foreboding and dread. A poster of a splayed dead goat, its sliced-open belly facing us, dominates the scene, welcoming us into a darkened room of macabre terrors and animal slaughter.
A mysterious, faceless figure smeared with blood is depicted at bust-length in a suit, presented against a pale blue ground. Only the forehead, ear, chin, neck, partial cheek, bottom lip, and brows are visible—the eyes, nose, and top lip are replaced with a sepia-hued photograph of a pair of legs moving on tiptoe, as if in the middle of a dance step.