Some artists use their art to put up a facade for the world; others seek to bear themselves whole. The art of Tracey Emin – who has a remarkable exhibition of new work at the White Cube Bermondsey, London – undoubtedly falls into the latter category. The title, A Fortnight of Tears, has apparently been rolling around in the artist’s head for fifteen years, distilled by the recent death of her mother, but first kindled by a relationship breakup in her thirties when, she explains, “I was crying for the loss of my future. Then when my mum died, I was crying for my past.” [Read more…]
Archives for February 2019
Gaspar Noé is drawn obsessively to the dark and decadent corners of human experience. Squalor, sexual taboos, substance abuse, and violence are as crucial to his toolkit as handheld cameras and eye-popping color as he spins carnal stories of love and fury. With Climax, this Argentine provocateur explores passion and fear by following a dance troupe through a life-changing night of partying, panic, and LSD. [Read more…]
What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? Mommie Dearest and Sunset Boulevard. There’s a glorious freedom to the psycho-biddy genre. Playing deranged dames whose sanity has been shattered by loneliness, iconic actresses like Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Gloria Swanson are given cart blanche to go wild in tales of female rage that are scandalous, grotesque, and often unapologetically campy. Writer/director Neil Jordan (Interview With A Vampire, The Crying Game) extends this grand opportunity to Isabelle Huppert with Greta. The French luminary makes a feast of its tale of female fury, chewing the scenery with a gruesome relish, then licking her chops, leaving us craving more. [Read more…]
Joseph Tetteh Ashong, known as Paa Joe, is a wood carver famous for his figurative “fantasy coffins” hand-carved in Accra, Ghana. In the 1950s, these coffins, also known in Ghana as abeduu adekai, translated to mean “receptacles of proverbs,” became popular. Kane Kwei first popularized these coffins and Paa Joe apprenticed under Kwei, his mother’s cousin. As some of the first and most famous coffin makers, they are known for making famous these coffins for Ga funerals in southern Ghana. The reference to proverbs makes sense, as artists would visually translate an important proverb or aspect of the dead’s life into a carved physical vessel that carries them into a symbolic journey to the afterlife. [Read more…]
At the start of the month, the Brooklyn Museum opened the exhibit Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving. It is a massive show, packed with rooms of ephemera, clothing, artifacts, and of course art, based upon both last year’s Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the original exhibit curated by Circe Henestrosa at the Frida Kahlo Museum in 2012.
Aptly titled, the exhibit is deceiving in its appearance and scope. All three of the past exhibits advertise that they showcase Kahlo’s famed clothing and personal possessions that had been locked away behind closed doors for fifty years, following her death in 1954 until 2004. All boast of being firsts as well: the first exhibit to showcase the clothing (Frida Kahlo Museum), the first exhibit outside of Mexico to do so (Victoria and Albert), or the first to do so in the U.S. (Brooklyn Museum). However, this show is about so much more than Kahlo’s clothing or appearance… [Read more…]
The music collected on Eric Dolphy’s Musical Prophet: The Expanded New York Studio Sessions (1963) is so unyielding and so open, it’s hard to accept the musician would be dead in just under a year. After rejoining former band leader Charles Mingus for a tour of Europe, Dolphy died from diabetic shock on June 29th1964. Having suffered stinging criticism back home in the United States, the musician hoped to leave the disparagement behind and become a musical ex-pat. Unaware he had diabetes, Dolphy slipped into a coma and expired in a Berlin hospital. He was 36 years old. Equally skilled across three instruments — flute, bass clarinet and alto saxophone — Dolphy put out eight albums as a leader in his lifetime. More than 22 others were released after his demise. Most recent among those posthumous releases, Musical Prophet is perhaps the most remarkable, as it includes among its three discs nine previously unissued tracks, making a complete album of unheard music. [Read more…]
There are so many different elements that make Suzanne Jackson’s exhibition, holding on to a sound, aptly named. Regardless of the medium, her work has a kind of musical component to it, a lyricism that seems to radiate from the wall where they are hung, like a kind of cosmic tuning fork was at work. They are also hauntingly lovely images, and if you study them long enough, they evoke ideas of memory and mortality. There is a soft of netherworld quality to these works, vividly alive, yet floating in an ether between a dream-like state and waking, and between this world and the next. [Read more…]
Written and Directed by Rosana Sullivan. Produced by Kathryn Hendrickson.
“I am far from convinced that being released from the African witch doctor was worthwhile if I am now — in order to support the moral contradictions of and the spiritual aridity of life — expected to become dependent on the American psychiatrist. It is a bargain I refuse. The only thing white people have that black people need, or should want is power — and no one holds power forever.” –James Baldwin, Letter from a Region in my Mind
In November 2017, at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, French president Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech that cracked open a pandora’s box of sorts. “I cannot accept that a large part of cultural heritage from several African countries is in France,” Macron told a rather skeptical audience, further proclaiming that he expected within five years “the conditions to be met for the temporary or permanent restitution of African heritage to Africa.” Whether or not this was intended as a diplomatic platitude, almost a year to the day a landmark report on the question of repatriation, commissioned by Macron, was published. And with that report, a wider crack appeared. [Read more…]
In 2015, Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra won the world’s attention with his Oscar-nominated Embrace The Serpent, a bold black-and-white drama that followed an Amazonian tribesman as he leads white scientists into the wild in search of a curative plant. Culture clash also plays at the heart of his much-anticipated follow-up, Birds of Passage (A.K.A. Pájaros de verano), which was Columbia’s submission for the Best Foreign-Language Academy Award this year. In the 1970s, the Wayúu community of northern Colombia’s Guajira Desert was dedicated to its traditions, observant of omens, and suspicious of outsiders. But as an emerging drug trade gave them access to wealth and power, their community became less isolated and less united. [Read more…]
Reviewed by John Payne
This all by way of passing comment on the challenging Xiu Xiu, never an easy thing to do. A couple of years ago I talked to the band’s main male Jamie Stewart. He was forthcoming and amenable, not a difficult artiste, and he talked about what he does with a seriousness that I liked very much. He thinks he’s a cranky, pretentious arsehole, but I don’t. Anyway, I do think it’s interesting that Stewart’s openly human persona doesn’t always reconcile with the often sonically and lyrically traumatized music he makes. There is some backstory: He told me about his father, a drug addict who died by suicide. It’s hard for me now to not project a lot of liteweight pop psychology upon Stewart’s musical madness. Like, a-ha [Read more…]
To say that a work of art holds up a mirror to the world is to recognise an attempt by the artist at portraying the truth. “See what the world really looks like” is the message. Art like this – that seeks to show us the reality of things – does so by parodying, exposing, lampooning and taunting. It invites you to peer into the fracture it has opened up, and when you do so, it’s like standing beside the artist and peering in together. With Jeff Koons it’s always a bit trickier. You sense that he too is holding up a mirror, but what kind of fracture is he asking you to peer into? One that, when the light reaches the depths, you see Koons’ own smile gleaming back at you? [Read more…]
In modern movie terminology, “epic” usually just means long, crowded and grandiose. Birds of Passage (2019), Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s follow-up to their astonishing, hallucinatory, Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent, earns the label in a more honest and rigorous manner. Parts of the story are narrated by a blind singer — a literally Homeric figure — and the story itself upholds Ezra Pound’s definition of the epic as “a poem containing history.” It’s about how the world changes, about how individual actions and the forces of fate work in concert to bring glory and ruin to a hero and his family. [Read more…]
Featuring Moko Goto
on Beats in Space
The writer wanders the seaside of a great island lost in his own thoughts, lovesick and grappling with a changing world. Such is the enduring image of Tomas Gutierrez Alea’s masterpiece Memories of Underdevelopment, which remains the greatest jewel of Cuban cinema. First released in that fevered year of 1968 to worldwide acclaim, it remained largely unavailable in the United States for decades, eternally referenced in film scholarship yet not easy to actually view. Now thanks to the Criterion Collection, it has returned to us, beautifully remastered and stunningly relevant. Made when the Cuban Revolution was merely a decade old and still enflaming passions in the hemisphere, it now speaks to us in a restless yet post-revolutionary moment, when its audience sees it from a the vantage point of dashed dreams and uncertain hopes. When Alea first made this movie his protagonist was an intellectual questioning himself within a society determined to inaugurate a Marxist future, today he would feel at home in a world where nobody can say what is coming. [Read more…]
from the Time For Us ep
on Wolf + Lamb Records
You know something is happening but you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?
–Bob Dylan, “Ballad Of A Thin Man”
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
The sixties was a tumultuous decade, filled with assassinations, race, student and antiwar riots. This traumatic and dangerous time, when the social fabric was being torn apart, also gave birth to many civil rights movements for marginalized people such as women, gay/lesbian/transgender and people of color. This exhibition at The Autry Museum focuses on the Chicano movement specifically and on La Raza, a newspaper/zine that was crucial to exposing, through text and image, the Chicano movements struggle for social justice from 1967-77. [Read more…]
Joan was convinced she had cancer. Sometimes it was a dull ache in her side, sometimes a cut that didn’t heal. She knew of a woman with Crohn’s Disease and just recently an old friend of hers died of pancreatic cancer. It was just a matter of time before those alien cells took over her body. Her body was on the edge of a cliff, ready to fall. When she got out her Tarot deck, she always drew the Fool. Once she saw the Hermit in a dream. He dropped his lantern and the light tumbled down into a rocky canyon, glowing on the silver cliffs as it fell. It was winter, with pockets of snow on the peaks. [Read more…]
With Serpentine Fire, now at Quotidian, curator and gallerist Jill Moniz has assembled an astoundingly innovative, resonant show from artists who have pushed the limits of their materials and subjects. The title of the show is taken from an Earth, Wind, & Fire song, and just as the band offered a breath of exciting fresh air with its early music, so does this exhibition. [Read more…]
Everybody knows. It’s not just a title. It’s a promise. It’s a threat. It’s a bombshell. In a cozy, sun-dappled village outside Madrid, everybody knows Laura (Penélope Cruz) and Paco (Javier Bardem) were childhood sweethearts. Everybody knows their break-up was brutal and strange, with her leaving for Argentina while leaving Paco her share of her family’s land. Everybody knows Laura’s husband is wealthy and too busy to join her at her sister’s wedding. But when her happy homecoming is derailed by a shocking abduction, nobody knows who might be to blame. In this time of impossible despair, Laura and Paco become uneasy allies in this treacherous terrain of ransom, resentments, distrust, and deeply buried family secrets. [Read more…]