Nixon has been demonized, and rightfully so. But to compare him to Trump, who is no less than a Demon, is far too easy. What can at least be said of Nixon is that he was thoughtful, that he was a contemplative man. This, obviously, cannot be said of Trump. Imagine Trump ever giving consideration to anything but his own small-hand syndrome, which has its own impressively large orbit of satellite syndromes; imagine Trump ever in good faith reaching out to another human being, let alone to the other side of the so-called aisle. This of Nixon we cannot disclaim, as this video hightlights, and it is this quality alone that sets him high above the lowly cretan currently in office.
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. — Friedrich Nietzsche.
It is hard to doubt that many inhabitants of the American imperium are going insane. The irrational nature of sudden, public outbursts of violence escalates to new levels of horror every year. The recent bloodbath in Las Vegas has raised many, quite necessary, debates over the gun-crazed culture that frames the American mindset, but little attention is being paid to the actual mental state of the republic. Surrounded by hyper-capitalism, predatory competition, and an increasingly isolated way of living, new monsters are being bred and formed, to roam the countryside and inflict new body counts. It is almost fitting that the current White House occupant is himself deranged, because shouldn’t a leader be a mirror image of his people? [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…]
The sound of the freeway, the roar and hum, the rumble of lowriders, the rattle of the classic models, the whirr and whine of a proper gear shift, the chortling idle — many creative minds have made hay of the musical, or at least harmoniously hybrid wind-and-percussive, properties of traffic noise. In LA, it’s part of the air. The voice of the freeway, the boulevard, and the sweeping blacktop is our rushing river, it runs through us. [Read more…]
Harmony of forms and symmetry are of the utmost importance in renowned New York-based, Colombian-born abstract painter Fanny Sanín’s sublime, geometric compositions currently on display at Venice Beach’s prestigious L.A. Louver Gallery. As her Los Angeles debut, this comprehensive retrospective traces this acclaimed color field artist’s prolific 50-year career as part of the collaborative Getty-led initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA which aims to highlight Latin American culture across scores of exhibitions presented by 70 of Southern California’s most prestigious museums and galleries. [Read more…]
For years, Rudy North woke up at 9 a.m. and read the Las Vegas Review-Journal while eating a piece of toast. Then he read a novel—he liked James Patterson and Clive Cussler—or, if he was feeling more ambitious, Freud. On scraps of paper and legal notepads, he jotted down thoughts sparked by his reading. “Deep below the rational part of our brain is an underground ocean where strange things swim,” he wrote on one notepad. On another, “Life: the longer it cooks, the better it tastes.” [Read more…]
My grandmother Lea once told me a story about the woman who lived next door to her in Tel Aviv, of her capture by the Nazis in Belgium and of an unfathomable decision she had to take to save herself. I never forgot it, and am pleased to share it with you in this Op-Doc film: [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…]
Known for his eccentric personality, flock of famous artists he calls friends, and wildly experimental geometric paintings, Billy Al Bengston is currently the subject of a much-anticipated retrospective featuring 30 years of his beloved moon paintings at Hollywood’s trendy Various Small Fires Gallery.
Captivated by the seas of stars and luminous moonscapes he witnessed while on a motorcycle trip down the breathtaking Baja Peninsula, Bengston began capturing this incandescent starlight on canvas. He debuted his first moon painting collection at Santa Monica’s James Corcoran Gallery in 1987. The artist has since added to that original series over the years, but never before have they all been displayed together, making this exhibition an incredibly rare opportunity for fans of the artist. [Read more…]
There is a sense in our increasingly electronic era that everything is surface. We are defined by our social media pages and herd to the gym to look a specific way. What defines us is becoming an increasingly complex series of ponderings based on many material factors. It is only appropriate then, that Warner Brothers would decide to revive Blade Runner here and now. Denis Villeneuve’s new Blade Runner 2049 is a film that is indeed all surface, with the cold heart of an android, but this makes it a fitting fable for its audience.
While it has long been traditional to show artists together when they belong to the same art movement, such as fauvists or expressionists, exhibitions with fairly unrelated artists seem to be the latest rage with curators. Monet, Hodler, and Munch, who were featured in a joint exhibition at the Marmottan Monet Museum in Paris earlier this year, overlapped chronologically over one century (1840-1944), but are classified respectively with impressionism, postimpressionism and symbolism. The Musée d’Art Moderne is currently showing together Derain, a fauvist, Balthus a neoclassicist, and Giacometti, usually classified as an existentialist sculptor. The work of Mapplethorpe was recently displayed on the walls surrounding Rodin’s sculptures at the Rodin Museum. [Read more…]
Writer/director Sean Baker does not make flashy films, but slowly unfolding, naturalistic narratives that’s revelations bloom for hours and days after you’ve first seen them. In 2015, he had critics raving over Tangerine, his heartwarming and at times hilarious breakout about a pair of trans sex workers. For his follow-up, Baker awes with his frank yet beautiful portrait of poverty-stricken Americans living in the shadow of The Happiest Place On Earth. [Read more…]
–from the October 2017 issue of Harper’s Magazine
Camilla Grudova’s story collection The Doll’s Alphabet, was published earlier this year in England, and it has already garnered comparisons to Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood, Leonora Carrington, Ben Marcus, and Franz Kafka. To this list let me add another name: George Orwell. Not the dystopian Orwell of 1984 or the allegorical Orwell of Animal Farm but the down-and-out, grubby-oilcloth Orwell of The Road to Wigan Pier and Keep the Aspidistra Flying. Grudova does mermaids and magic, but she also does moldy, dingy, scratch-and-sniff interiors that reek of cabbage and old shoes. [Read more…]
In the age of spectacle the icon is as durable as ancient marble. Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the exterminating angel of the Cuban Revolution, comes down to us half a century after his CIA-backed execution in Bolivia as a Janus figure — a pop icon which nevertheless provokes fierce political debate and fears. His death in October 8, 1967 set aflame waves of indignation among the world’s revolutionary fronts. [Read more…]
King Krule’s (aka Archy Marshall) new single, Dum Surfer, “is about as demonic as [things] can get. [Krule’s] voice, especially, is so tart and poisonous, that it’ll surely pucker one’s face. It’s as if in preparation for The Ooz [Krule’s new album] he was eating a box of nails and puffing at a pack of cigarettes every single day to get his vocals just right. The violent, bodily imagery of his lyrics, perfectly match this acerbic mood: he sings about his brains resembling “potato mash” and puking on a sidewalk. His backing band adds a dash of color to this bleak picture, with slinky guitar riffs and wiggly saxophone. In spite of all the doom and gloom, Marshall and his band have an innate groove. The accompanying music video breathes life in the sickly world Marshall imagines.” — Pitchfork Magazine
An extract from “What Is the Critic’s Job?” in the September 28th issue of The New York Review of Books. In his review, Mendelson also addresses two other critical works: This Thing We Call Literature, by Arthur Krystal, and Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, by Erich Auerbach, translated from the German by Willard R. Trask, with an introduction by Edward W. Said.
Two lucid and intelligent books, A.O. Scott’s Better Living Through Criticism and Arthur Krystal’s This Thing We Call Literature, explore the same complex theme: criticism as a public art and a public service, performed, however, by critics who speak for themselves, addressing individual readers, not a collective public. Both books draw maps of the disputed border between popular and elite culture and find ways to cross it without pretending it doesn’t exist. [Read more…]
Becoming a woman can be a traumatizing experience. Your body transforms. It bleeds. Your hormones swing wildly, subjecting you to fits of rage, sadness, lust, and self-doubt. You may look in the mirror and see someone you don’t recognize. You might rebel against this lack of control by acting out with booze, sex, and drugs. In these regards, the 15-year-old heroine of Blue My Mind (2017) is pretty common. But where this Fantastic Fest entry takes a dramatic and sensationally strange turn is that she is not becoming a woman. She’s becoming a mermaid. Far from a fantastical and glamorous experience, it’s one swimming in trauma and body horror. [Read more…]
“Necessity is the mother of invention” —English language proverb
“Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films” is a small but potent exhibit, part of Pacific Standard Time/ Los Angeles/Latin America (PST/LA/LA) at The Pasadena Museum of California Art until January 7, 2018. The posters in this exhibit were produced by The Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos (ICAIC) or the Cuban film Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry from 1961-2012; all of them are silkscreened and are uniformly 29 ½ inches by 20 ¼ inches. [Read more…]