Category Archives: Essays

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Museum Curators and their Public

By Steve Light

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) recently re-opened after a closure of over three years for expansion and renovation. Most of the opening exhibitions consist of artworks loaned by the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection on the basis of an arrangement and agreement which resulted in the Fishers funding the museum’s expansion. I haven’t been to SFMOMA in many years. I don’t visit the Bay Area often, but when I do it is the most sparkling and invigorating artists in the region whose work I want to see, and their work tends not to be in the MOMAs and MOCAs of the world, although they certainly ought to be. Continue reading

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What’s Love (and Shakespeare) Got to Do with It?

By Regina Schwartz

Last year saw a victory for a US President running on a platform of hatred, and a UK vote to leave the EU on a platform of fear. Both campaigns painfully revealed how deeply divided both the United States and the United Kingdom are, and how conflicted our ideas of justice have become. But 2016 also marked the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. And if anyone understood what comprises the bedrock of justice, Shakespeare did: Love. Continue reading

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Why Hillary’s Loss Still Hurts

By Ani Kokobobo

A friend of mine masochistically watches the DNC video of Hillary Clinton shattering the glass ceiling after the succession of male presidents. It hurts to watch because it reminds us of what this past Friday might have been. Ever since Hillary Clinton lost the election, nobody talks much about her. There is justifiable, growing anxiety about how a Trump presidency will affect women, and how it is empowering misogyny. But already, Hillary’s disappearance from the public eye has cost us a desperately needed and fragile narrative of ultimate feminine achievement. Continue reading

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The Politics of Optimism

By Kate Jenkins

On the night of the election, I’m embarrassed now to admit, I wore the white uniform so many women donned in honor of the suffragettes: white t-shirt, white jeans, white sneakers, topped off with a vintage fur and red lipstick, because I was expecting a party, after all. I arrived at a women’s event space at around 9:45, just a commercial break or two before the future came into focus, and left at about 10. I wanted to be alone. I biked home fast, standing up out of the seat the whole way, tears streaming behind me in the wind. Continue reading

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We Wish You Great Harm

By Dan Sinykin

I listened to Barack Obama’s first inaugural address on a bus, in the desert, in Israel, while jets flew overhead to bomb the Gaza Strip. I was with 35 other American Jews and a half-dozen Israeli soldiers. Next to me sat Amit, who had, not a week earlier, killed Palestinians as part of the ground siege in Gaza. “It’s not like I looked them in the face,” he told me. “We were all shooting.” To avoid nightmares, he hadn’t been sleeping. “When I close my eyes,” he said, “I see things.” Yet he carried himself lightly, had perceptive eyes, a kind face. Continue reading

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America, America

By Jonathan Kirshner

Appalled by the state of affairs, realizing the greatness and the nearness of the danger . . . and thinking, as men are apt to think in great crises, that when all had been done they still have something left to do, and when all had been said they have not said enough, again called on the captains one by one . . . he reminded them of their country, the freest of the free, and of the unfettered discretion allowed to all in it to live as they pleased.” [Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, 7.69.2] Continue reading

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Me on Remnick on Trump

By Pete Tosiello

Last month, Ad Age named David Remnick its Editor of the Year, in an announcement which simultaneously recognized his veritable organ, the New Yorker, as Magazine of the Year. The 91-year-old weekly was praised for its embrace of social media, podcasts, and a mostly-successful paywall strategy. The distinction was no doubt a bittersweet one for the Editor-in-chief, who during the election cycle found time between his stewardship of the New Yorker Radio Hour and lengthy writing on Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen to become one of the media establishment’s most vocal critics of Donald Trump. Continue reading

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Another Chance to Understand: John Baldessari at the Marian Goodman Gallery

By Sam Sackeroff

How do you solve a problem like the avant-garde? That is a question that John Baldessari has been asking in one form or another for more than five decades. Since July 24th 1970, when, in an inspired moment of getting-over-it, Baldessari and his students at the University of California at San Diego burned the last-gasp gestural paintings that he had made between 1953 and 1966, he has been exploring different ways of pushing the most compelling elements of advanced visual art out of the ever-narrowing confines of academic modernism and into the rich and unpredictable space of actual looking. Continue reading

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Tomorrow Belongs to Those Who Can Hear It Coming, Is Seu Jorge Listening?

By Matthew Stevens

On a windy night in December, Brazilian singer-songwriter and actor Seu Jorge played the last of three sold-out shows at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Jorge was re-adorned in the pale blue tracksuit and red cap get-up made infamous by the card-carrying members of Team Zissou in Wes Anderson’s 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and perched on a chair among oh-so bijou stage dressing (coils of hemp rope, gas lanterns, a dainty ships wheel, and other such flotsam and jetsam). Despite the forced incongruity of his robust presence dressed and decked in these clichéd twee trappings, Jorge was persistently affable as he wound his way through a collection of tales and gags culled from his on-set experience of the filming of Life Aquatic, along with the acoustic, Portuguese-language David Bowie covers that were a significant component of the film’s sharp-edged, posh-stoner atmosphere. The show, billed as “The Life Aquatic / A Tribute to David Bowie,” was, as its title suggests, clumsy and mawkish in conception, and was saved from complete triviality by the sheer friendliness of Jorge’s performance. Continue reading