The myths have not left us even in a supposedly rational age. Especially in an imperial society what is past is prologue. With every passing year historical memory takes on a new gloss, and the darker shades are colored over with wishful thinking. In the United States the Kennedy family personifies the very idea of national myth. Chiseled in stone, the personas of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, both assassinated in their political primes in the 1960s, are equally romanticized and debated. Admired for their patrician air in a culture that worships opulence, yet deconstructed by scholars of realpolitik, the twin gods of American liberalism evoke a special allure via grainy photographs and film reels. It is the third brother, Edward Kennedy, denied his turn at the throne, who wanders under a shadow infused with that most bitter of phrases, “what could have been.” [Read more…]
Gusmano Cesaretti pulls a book off the shelf in his South Pasadena studio and hands it to me. The book is on Chaz Bojorquez, the Godfather of East L.A. graffiti. He opens the front cover and shows me where Chaz has written in beautiful stylish script, “To El más chingón. You started my career. Thank you. Chaz.” The story of how an Italian kid obsessed with American culture ended up documenting the birth of East L.A. graffiti culture is just one chapter in the crazy fairy-tale that is Cesaretti’s life. [Read more…]
by Christopher Michno
Tim Berg and Rebekah Myers work collaboratively to produce objects that are sensually appealing and refer to advertising, design, and glossy consumer products. Their work is intentionally ambiguous, mining objects for their capacity to mean different things to different people; and in this way, it operates both within a specific narrative, and as work about the nature of how we construct meaning. This Way Lies Madness (2018), their latest, a neon sign made for “Manifesto: A Moderate Proposal,” the exhibition at the Pitzer College Lenzner Family Gallery through March 29, adopts a line from King Lear. The sign reads “This Way Lies Madness Lies” and is shaped in a continuous circle. In a conversation in their Claremont studio, Myers and Berg discussed Madness, manifestos, and making objects that create space for dialog. [Read more…]
Agnieszka Holland’s provocative film, Spoor, challenges preconceived notions of animal dominion, gender equality, and the excessive use of power by the ruling class. A recipient of multiple awards, including three Academy Awards nominations, Holland is a masterful director who excels at weaving powerful and conflicting themes into stories. Inspired by Olga Tokarczuk’s book, Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead, the title of the film refers to the tracks and traces left by animals, while its original title, Pokot, is a hunting expression referring to the count of animals killed after the hunt. [Read more…]
Based on the writings and adventures of best selling journalist Jay Bahadur, Pirates of Somalia is an enthralling ride into the reality of Somalia’s pirates, seen from the shores of a nation pillaged by foreign corporations. This film is a far cry from the dichotomies of Captain Philips and the media’s ennobling of Americans in stark contrast to the barbarism of the Somalis. [Read more…]
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” begins Charles Dickens’ epic A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens goes on to describe the novel’s period, set against the French Revolution, as an age of “wisdom” and “foolishness.” The context may have changed since those words were written, but the sentiment remains true. Here we are in 2017, arguably more conscious than ever to the plights of the dispossessed, yet somehow still stuck in the mires of narrow mindedness. Why do we seem doomed to repeat the errors of our ways? How can we better draw on lessons from history? In November, at New York’s Performa Biennial, these were questions at the heart of at least two South African artists’ commissioned performances. [Read more…]
Inspired by true events, The Divine Order tells the story of a housewife’s servitude and her quest for emancipation in a remote part of Switzerland. She rallies other women to fight for the right to vote, shifting the scales of power politically and domestically, while awakening to her own sexual potential. [Read more…]
On view at Matthew Marks, Los Angeles, are a selection of photographs from Nan Goldin’s hypnotic and haunting series, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, which in its original format is a 48 minute slideshow documenting Goldin’s life in over 700 photographs and 30 songs, the text of which, those songs, acting as the narrative for the “film.”
In her introduction to the book, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, Goldin writes:
I was eleven when my sister committed suicide. This was in 1965, when teenage suicide was a taboo subject. I was very close to my sister and aware of some of the forces that led her to choose suicide. I saw the role that her sexuality and its repression played in her destruction. [Read more…]
This is a sort of Cinderella story, if Cinderella was a 74 year-old man with a penchant for drawing fantastical landscapes, imaginary cars, trains and figures. William Hall may look like a character actor with Santa Claus on his resume, but he harbors an interior life that is far more unique than his appearance suggests. Outwardly there are no clues to imply the fullness of his imagination, nor his impressive talents, yet like the kernel of truth buried within any fable, his story reveals the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. [Read more…]
Rat Film, a riveting new feature by Theo Anthony, plunges into the dark recesses of Baltimore’s rat-infested streets; in doing so, it takes its viewers into the gaping breach of socio-economic segregation.
Once upon a time – because all tales innocuously anchor their footprints in reality – Anthony notices a rat desperately trying to jump out of the confinement of a trashcan. This momentary experience soon leads the director into the chaos of the human condition, which the film masterfully begins to explore while an eerily autocratic voice over (Maureen Jones) ushers us into behavioral neuroscience with references to Curt Richter’s experiments compiled into his book: “Rats, Man and the Welfare State”. [Read more…]
Guillermo Bert’s Encoded Textiles Project, a series of exquisitely wrought tapestries that embed the stories of indigenous communities through QR codes woven into the textiles themselves, brings together traditional weaving techniques, digital technologies and stories of identity. The QR codes within the weavings launch additional content and documentary video Bert shot while working with weavers in Chile and Oaxaca, Mexico. His tapestries are currently on view in two Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibitions in Los Angeles—The U.S.-Mexico: Place, Imagination, and Possibility at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, and Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas at the UCR Arts Block. They also may be seen in two museum exhibitions: Unsettled, at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, reframes human migration within the context of a vast super-region that encompasses the western edge of the Americas from Alaska to Patagonia and much of the Pacific; and Tied, Died, and Woven: Ikat Textiles from Latin America, at the Textile Museum of Canada, juxtaposes textiles from the museum’s permanent collection with contemporary objects by Bert and other artists. [Read more…]
Molly Larkey’s recent exhibition at Ochi Projects, a shape made through its unraveling, reflects her interest in the invisible conceptual structures that shape society and structure ways of thinking. Her sculpture alludes to the ideals of utopian concepts as novel possibilities on a distant horizon, but with this exhibit Larkey also focused on identifying and adopting practices that solve seemingly intractable societal problems. [Read more…]
An extract from “China Is Laughing About This Situation,” The Global Politico/Susan Glasser interview with Ai Weiwei.
Ai Weiwei is making a strong case for himself as America’s leading dissident of the Trump era.
Never mind that he’s Chinese, or that he lives in Berlin in de facto exile these days.
The legendary artist, who has long embraced political themes in his work, has gone full-out activist in a new feature-length documentary film about the global refugee crisis, called Human Flow and released in theaters across the U.S. Friday, and in a new, New York City-wide public art exhibit of 300 works in dozens of locations called “Good Walls Make Good Neighbors.”
Both are explicit rebuttals of the nationalistic, America-First-fueled policies espoused by Trump, from his proposed Mexican border wall to his curbs on immigration that include admitting the smallest number of refugees to the U.S. in decades. [Read more…]
With England is Mine, director Mark Gill explores the emergence of the creative mindset of an icon of alternative rock music: Morrissey.
Named after the Smiths’ lyrics, “England is mine and it owes me a living,” the biopic focuses on the former Smiths frontman’s adolescence, from his boredom while working menial jobs at the Inland Revenue and at a local hospital, to his creative spurts of inspiration mixed with his private torments. Depression and ambition go hand in hand to provide the fuel that will either sink him or propel him to greatness, and his career finally jumps into gear when he meets Johnny Marr and steps into the threshold of his destiny. [Read more…]
To mark the 50th anniversary of his October 8, 1967 death by assassination, Alci Rengifo looks at the figure of Che as enduring myth, media icon and indomitable commodity here in the capitalist, revolutionless West. Below is a 1964 interview with the actual man:
David Lynch chats with Harry Dean Stanton:
Elle Reeve’s excellent reportage for HBO’s Vice News. Below is her interview with Christopher Cantwell, a self-described white nationalist, and her coverage of the events in Charlottesville as they tragically unfolded. Plus, a little sweet to help suck down the sour: Christopher Cantwell buckles, sheds tears (for himself) and, praise Jesus, prattles out his own private phone number (third clip), should anyone want to speak with him personally: [Read more…]