Daily Postings
literature : word choice

A Vindication of Hypnosis

by Sergio Pitol

Suddenly, during a pause in his monologue, Federico Pérez cautioned me not to become too lost in circumlocution. I should lay everything on the line, he said. I replied that I had already done that the very day I made the appointment by phone. I was trusting that his treatment by hypnosis, about which I had heard great things, would help me give up smoking. If I had gone into too many details at the beginning of my explanation, it was to clarify what my relationship with tobacco was and had been. I do not remember his exact words, but he did allude to the evasiveness and circumlocutions in my speech. He added that he thought it was a manifestation of insecurity, a defense mechanism behind which I was hiding. I do not know if the doctor’s intervention, his interruption and description of the structure of the story, which unbeknownst to me had become unnecessarily and painfully labyrinthine, was part of the treatment, an attempt to stimulate a particular reaction, the beginning of subjugation. I defended myself with literary arguments.

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literature : interview

Norman Manea

by Morten Høi Jensen

“You heard everywhere talk of the end of ideology, the end of history—what end? If people are alive, there is no end.”

Norman Manea’s life began where so many others ended. At just five years old he was interned along with his family in a concentration camp in Ukraine; four years later they emerged with their lives intact only to begin anew in different kind of prison: Stalinist Romania. By 1965, when Nicolae Ceaușescu became General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party, Norman Manea was quickly emerging as one of the occupied country’s most promising young writers: he would publish his first novel, Captives, in 1970. That novel has just been made available to English-language readers for the first time by the venerable folks at New Directions. Called “an enduring work of literature” by the Chicago Tribune, it is a furiously complex novel by a remarkably protean writer. It offers readers an immersive experience in the oppressive universe of Soviet Romania—“in the black corridors of a destiny without Sabbath,” as the narrator has it. It is a universe that abounds in a past it cannot address, in which memories “burst forth from their shroud of ashen fog,” and will not be forgotten. Though Norman Manea worries in the course of this interview that the novel is not really suited for an American audience, the experience of navigating the complex narrative of Captives, seamlessly rendered into English by Jean Harris, is a deeply rewarding one.

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music : interview

Noveller

by Tobias Carroll

Sci-fi, Texas, and the business of sonic landscaping.

Guitarist Sarah Lipstate has been making music for a decade under the name Noveller, encompassing eerily serene sonic landscapes to textural explorations of noise. Fantastic Planet (2014), the latest Noveller album, is perhaps Lipstate’s most accessible work, but also her most sonically expansive. Over the years, Noveller’s music has grown to include some keyboard work alongside her memorable guitar playing. Lipstate’s creative work isn’t limited to music: she’s also a filmmaker, and occasionally brings both disciplines together in live performances.

In the time since Noveller’s debut release, the landscape for experimental, boundary-eluding music has shifted somewhat. Lipstate has made excellent use of services like Bandcamp, creating a centralized point for fans of her music to seek out releases both large and small. Our conversation encompassed everything from Lipstate’s work in film music to the experimental scene in Austin to the influence of science fiction on her music. The cover to Fantastic Planet features Lipstate gazing off at something unknown in the distance. That look at something beyond description serves as a fine shorthand for her musical aesthetic.

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film : interview

Lawrence Michael Levine

by Gary M. Kramer

The fine art of the romantic-comedy-thriller-mystery.

Lawrence Michael Levine’s funny and charming Wild Canaries is a slapstick, screwball, romantic-comedy mystery set in contemporary Brooklyn. Levine plays Noah, a neurotic thirty-something guy whose live-in girlfriend Barri (Sophia Takal, Levine’s wife, who also produced) suspects their neighbor Anthony (Kevin Corrigan) of murdering his own mother Sylvia (Marylouise Burke). Barri opts to investigate the crime along with her best friend and roommate Jean (Alia Shawkat), much to Noah’s chagrin. As the amateur sleuths break into apartments and chase suspects, various suspenseful and romantic complications ensue.

Levine, whose previous feature was Gabi on the Roof in July, may be familiar to indie film fans from his appearances in such work as Jeff Lipsky’s Molly’s Theory of Relativity, or Joe Swanberg’s All the Lights in the Sky. He also co-starred in Takal’s feature, Green. But he distinguishes himself behind the camera with Wild Canaries, building tension and laughs in equal measure. The mystery here is as engaging as the banter between the characters. Levine displays his flair for both physical comedy and verbal sparring, as well as a talent for quirky visuals.

Levine spoke, via Skype, about pulling off this nimble comedic mystery.

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art : interview

Maren Hassinger

by Mary Jones

"Politics are always there, it’s inescapable. If you’re going to be a really good artist, it’s got to be there, because it is there."

For over four decades, sculptor and performance artist Maren Hassinger, has created powerful images that refer to nature as a complex, psychological space for political and personal transformation. Early pieces resembled stark groves of bare trees; wire rope forms twisted and bent from the heat of her welding torch. Lately her materials have included the underfoot and overlooked: trash, leaves, boxes, and piles of newspaper. Dance and movement are seminal to her work, and from her earliest pieces on, the viewer must circumnavigate and interpret the space, whether it’s a freeway overpass, a pink path, or a crowded, small room.

Maren Hassinger…Dreaming, a retrospective of her works, opens this spring at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta, “the only museum in the nation emphasizing art by and about women of the African Diaspora,” as the statement on the institution’s website reads.

A native of Los Angeles, Hassinger’s work was included the traveling 2011 exhibition Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980, and in Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art in 2012. A residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem brought her to New York City in 1983, and she’s been in the Northeast since, where she raised her two children. Her daughter, Ava Hassinger is also an artist, and the two work collaboratively under the name “Matriarch.” Hassinger and I met in her apartment on Malcolm X Boulevard, in Manhattan.

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literature : word choice

from I'm Very Into You

by Kathy Acker

Oh will I remember all that you just wrote? Memory slips even more than... what?... gender (is that self? not here)... and I was going to email, I can’t even remember spelling, to just quickly tell you about the movie I just saw, Todd Haynes Safe... and your email!... now I can’t remember all you said ’cause I want to tell you, emotion taking over, see Safe, it is WONDERFUL hits the spot (advertisers make correctness) makes the art world into the stupid nothing it is... well it is so great seeing something that good... I saw it with RU we’re friends again which is great ’cause I hate losing friends there aren’t enough and it is my family, my friends... so now all is dream... Australia and this usual life melding, here where I do my emailing at two in the morning and wake up figuring out deals business how to give my publisher his share of daily grief oh will I get enough hours to write? I’m so greedy to do that... not like Sydney passing days drunk roaming through the bookstore with you... oh no please “analysis”? For me, “analysis” means “Kathy’s being insecure and needs to breathe a few times.”

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film : interview

Céline Sciamma

by Steve Macfarlane

"When we think about choreography, we think about dancing, or sports. I try to apply the same logic when I'm filming sports and when I'm just filming somebody in a room."

There’s a moment roughly halfway into Céline Sciamma’s new film Bande des filles (retitled, for reasons explained below, as Girlhood in its U.S. release) that's both majestic and bemusing. The main character, a French teenager named Marieme (Karidja Touré) attends a knock-down, drag-out ring fight, wherein her shit-talking friend Lady (Assa Sylla) gets utterly trounced by a member of a rival bande. Days turn into weeks and, with the help of Marieme (who goes by “Vic”—short for Victory) and others, the hot-tempered Lady eventually nurses her wounds of both body and ego. But in concluding this chapter of Marieme’s story, Sciamma makes the curious decision to loop back around to the ring fight—only this time, Lady’s ass-whooping is shown through the blotchy digital eye of a teenage onlooker’s cellphone. Para One’s music swells with a curiously breathless anticipation, and the entire frame pulsates with an energy that’s unmistakably adolescent: the thrill of spilt blood, the unwillingness to look away, the anxious potential for payback on the horizon.

In this vein, Girlhood’s most important scenes are never quite what they appear to be, including the celebrated, neon-lit sequence wherein Vic and her friends lip-synch the entirety of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” in a cheap motel room, a scene that reviews would have you believe comprises at least half of the film’s runtime. Sciamma’s process is one of constant, uneasy dramatic reorientation, zeroing in on the synaptic connection between experience and memory, which announces itself explicitly in raw, spontaneous outbursts of emotion. What is Vic really thinking? Who is the “real” Marieme? As in her previous coming-of-age investigations Tomboy and Water Lillies, Sciamma refuses to provide easy answers to these kinds of questions, making Girlhood both universal (see: title) as well as slyly political. The film confounds superficial expectations of its hood culture milieu throughout its heroine’s transition from a meek, braided girl hiding within the banlieues to an itinerant criminal and then something else entirely. Yet despite its sociopolitical particulars, the key to Sciamma’s radiant film is always Touré, whose wide-eyed performance carries Girlhood’s considerable mystery and its undeniable compassion in fixed stride.

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literature : interview

Jeremy M. Davies

by Scott Esposito

“A very specific, peculiar sort of universe-in-a-bottle.”

Jeremy Davies just might be reclaiming comedy’s place in the frequently dour, futile world of modernist literature. His first novel, Rose Alley (Counterpath, 2009), told the disintegrating story of an attempt to make a film about the satirical, bawdy eighteenth-century figure John Wilmot, all while Paris comes to pieces in 1968. Excessive but reliably deadpan, Rose Alley proved both hilarious and experimental. Now he gives us Fancy (Ellipsis Press), a long-winded monologue delivered by a crazy-old-cat-man, who, in between cranky rants about seemingly every irrelevant topic on Earth, sentimentally rhapsodizes the key moment in his long-lost youth: a few blissful months when a fellow librarian used to fellate him in the stacks. Alternately slapstick and pokerfaced, and impeccably timed, Fancy is laugh-out-loud funny, even while it forges new ground in the line of the unstable Thomas Bernhardian narrator. It’s also deeply metaphysical—or maybe not, in which case, the joke is on you, reader, and you’ve just listened to the mock-philosophical, unhinged ravings of a lonely old quack. It was my pleasure to interview Davies over email, and my one hope is that none of me ends up being fodder for his next unreliable narrator.

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film : interview

Johanna Hamilton

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

Surveillance, J. Edgar Hoover, and effective activism.

Forty years before WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden and the NSA scandal, there was Media, Pennsylvania, the subject of a new documentary 1971 directed by Johanna Hamilton. The FBI was untouchable until that year, when a group of ordinary citizens dubbing themselves the Citizens’ Commission broke into a small FBI office in Pennsylvania, stole their files, and shared them with the American public. These files revealed the FBI’s domestic spying programs, and specifically exposed COINTELPRO, the FBI’s illegal surveillance program which involved the intimidation of law-abiding Americans. COINTELPRO was overseen by lifelong Bureau director J. Edgar Hoover. The unmasking of this program led to the country’s first Congressional investigation of US intelligence agencies. The brave Americans who stole these documents, a ragtag bunch of activists, parents, and professors, were never caught. Forty-three years later, they have revealed themselves for the first time and shared their story.

Hamilton collaborated with Betty Medsger, author of The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, which first disclosed these 1971 events. The text unveiled the identities of those involved who had been previously anonymous. Given the recent disclosures of NSA spying, this thrilling tale could not be more relevant. It goes to show how little things have changed since 1971—in fact, we’re probably watched now more than ever. I spoke with the film’s director, Johanna Hamilton, about whether there is any lingering legal danger for the activists, broader issues of security leaks and activism today, and how ordinary people can make an impact on their government.

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art : interview

Sara Cwynar

by Ashley McNelis

The origins of nostalgia and some theoretical foundations of photography.

I was first introduced to Sara Cwynar’s work while studying at Goldsmiths in London. My research explored the construct of what I call “social shrines”—creative manifestations wherein artists make use of and document everyday actions as a means of commenting on and elevating socio-cultural practices. My own creative and academic practice both revolve around an investigation of how ritual manifests itself in the spaces of the everyday. How can the banal be beatific? In what way have ideas of worship been redressed by modern American culture? How does ritual manifest in spaces ordinarily designed as secular? Cwynar’s work speaks to these questions by toying with camp popular visual tropes in a deft manipulation that presents a topography of North American consumption and cultural experience. Continuing in a long line of female assemblage artists, ranging from Vadis Turner to Amalia Mesa-Bains, in combining objects Cwynar offers an elevation of the familiar to that of the fantastic, desirous relics of the ordinary that reignite one’s appreciation of daily objects. In addition to beginning her MFA in photography at Yale University this fall, Cwynar recently published two books, Kitsch Encyclopedia (Blonde Art Books, 2014) and Pictures of Pictures (Printed Matter, 2014). My co-interviewer, Ashley McNelis, was first introduced to Cwynar’s work through these publications. We both sat down with the artist to learn more about what makes her encyclopedic kitsch stick. —Legacy Russell. 

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art : portfolio
literature : word choice

Cecil Taylor

by César Aira

Dawn in Manhattan. In the first, tentative light, a black prostitute is walking back to her room after a night’s work. Hair in a mess, bags under her eyes; the cold transfigures her drunkenness into a stunned lucidity, a crumpled isolation from the world. She didn’t venture beyond her usual neighborhood, so she only has to walk a few blocks. Her pace is slow; she could be going backwards; at the slightest deviation time could dissolve into space. What she really wants is sleep, but she’s not even conscious of that any more. The streets are almost deserted; the few people who usually go out at this time (or have no indoors to go out of) know her by sight, so they don’t examine her violet high-heeled shoes, her tight skirt with its long split, or her eyes, which wouldn’t return their glassy or tender gazes anyway.

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film : interview

Jesse Moss

by Pamela Cohn

Compassion, religion, and secrets in a North Dakota boom town.

For his most recent feature film The Overnighters, director Jesse Moss sought out a man named Jay Reinke—a pastor for twenty years of a small Lutheran church in Williston, North Dakota—after reading one of Reinke’s clergy columns in the local Williston newspaper. The small town experienced a deluge of humanity that began when people from all over the US came by the tens of thousands looking for work after hydraulic fracking in the region unlocked a vast oil field in a nearby shale in 2006. But Williston and its environs could not begin to handle this massive influx. To make things worse, many of the new arrivals were emotionally and psychologically damaged by unending years of grinding poverty, unemployment, sickness and addiction—and had nowhere else to turn.

Pastor Reinke decided to open his church to men who had come on their own, some leaving families back home when they left to search for work. Many could not find a place to sleep when they arrived, so, without anyone’s explicit permission, Reinke started using the interior of the building as a dorm. He also allowed men to sleep in their cars in the parking lot of the church, beginning a program called Overnighters. He became a friend, counselor and helpmate to thousands of them.

Moss, thinking Jay might develop into a key character in a film that was to center around the story of the oil boom in North Dakota and its various environmental and human-scale fallouts, ended up making a heartrending, dramatic and, at times, uncomfortably intimate portrait of one man in spiritual crisis. By the film’s end, this crisis reveals what at first appears to be a completely shocking secret about Reinke's past. But the sensitivity of the filmmaker, along with the meticulous dramaturgical and emotional build-up of the story, turns a potentially morally questionable revelation into a moment that beautifully illustrates a ferociously guarded dissociation of the self cracking wide open under unsustainable duress.

The last time I met with Jesse was back in 2008 in New York when I interviewed him and co-director, Tony Gerber, for their remarkable film Full Battle Rattle, a documentary that also shook me up but for very different reasons. Needless to say, Moss is a fearless director, who does not shy away from encountering his own inner demons as he’s documenting those of his subjects.

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literature : interview

Danielle Dutton & Richard Kraft

Magpies, comics, paradoxes, and the spirit of disruption.

Leaps—the kind that ask you to embrace the sense in nonsense, to surrender, to let go of what you might expect in favor of what you might discover. There are few other artists and writers capable of the extraordinary leaps Danielle Dutton and Richard Kraft make both in their respective works and in their collaboration Here Comes Kitty: A Comic Opera. In this book, Kraft reassembles a Cold War-era comic book about a Polish spy infiltrating the Nazis, densely layering each collaged page with material from Amar Chitra Katha comics of Hindu mythology, Jimmy Swaggart’s Old and New Testament stories, the English football annual Scorcher, and various images from art history, encyclopedias, and so forth. Frames are broken. Time collapses. The world is in flux. Dutton meanwhile, with masterly command, renders this ever-mutating world into language. Her sixteen “interpolations” punctuate Here Comes Kitty, and they are marvels of nimbleness and imagination. Here collision and juxtaposition may very well be more revealing than logical causation.

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music : interview

The Go-Betweens

by Gary Canino

Robert Forster on his group's nearly flawless decade.

Brisbane, Australia’s finest, the Go-Betweens, had a pretty much flawless run from 1977 to 1989, the first half of which was recently reissued in a new box set, G Stands For Go-Betweens, Volume One. The box includes their first three albums Send Me a Lullaby (1982), Before Hollywood (1983), and Spring Hill Fair (1984), alongside a live album, a collection of early singles, and three(!) discs of rarities. Thanks to the dual-genius partnership of founders Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, the Go-Betweens made consistently great records that transcended the ersatz “genres” of folk, pop, or indie rock altogether, mastering their own idiosyncratic songwriting craft along the way. 16 Lovers Lane, their 1988 swan song, is arguably their best album, encompassing their biggest hit, “Streets of Your Town,” the Commonwealth lullaby “The Devil’s Eye,” and the barnstorming “Love Goes On!” After a 1989 breakup, the band reunited in 2000 and released a string of low-key albums of finely-cut pop gems until McLennan's untimely and tragic death in 2006 brought the band to an end.

I was lucky enough to speak with Robert Forster about the band’s destitute beginnings, paying the bills, and what it’s like to have a bridge named after your band.

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literature : interview

Ned Beauman

by J. W. McCormack

Read, rave, and research.

Poor Ned Beauman. At twenty-nine years old, with two acclaimed and technically astonishing novels behind him and his third, Glow, just out in the US in hardcover, this Cambridge-educated winner of multiple prizes, whose work combines philosophical fascination with actual entertainment, must shoulder the most complimentary curse in all of blurb-ese: inexorable comparison to Thomas Ruggles Pynchon. It isn’t specifically that Beauman is somehow unworthy of the Pynchonesque pedigree—both write the kind of associative, pop-culture-infused novels fetishized by kid-geniuses and highly-educated drug users—but that, while Pynchon is supposed to have once declared “Every weirdo in the world is on my wavelength,” Beauman seems set to a more universal frequency. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone quibbling with his first novel, Boxer, Beetle (Sceptre, 2010), in which a contemporary frame story about a fish-smelling collector of Nazi memorabilia is intercut with a cat-and-mouse game between a gay pugilist and a devious entomologist in the ‘30s. And what kind of monster, I wonder, wouldn’t fall in love with his second novel, The Teleportation Accident, a historical slapstick about a sexually-frustrated theatre director who flees Weimar Berlin for LA only to become entwined in a Chandleresque scheme involving tycoons, mad scientists, and H. P. Lovecraft?

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art : interview

Toyin Odutola

by Ashley Stull

On race, representation, and inspiration.

Toyin Odutola is a master of treading softly while issuing a powerful statement. Her conceptually direct images carry with them dense political undercurrents, yet never neglect the fundamentals of form and craft. While the formal concerns of mark-making and portraiture are in the foreground of her renderings, the ideological foundation on which Odutola works separates her from other artists. The images she creates speak about blackness—African blackness, American blackness, and the blackness of the 20th century color field—compounding these issues of race and history with those of gender. Having recently relocated her studio, the artist discusses her new locale, the evolution of her practice, and the few things that will never change.

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literature : word choice

Mirror Work

by Ander Monson

What is it about a mirror that works to hold our gaze? We’re certain of ourselves until reversed or made grotesque in hotel light, every blackhead on our blockhead body highlighted, each crease accentuated. Science says we’re built to see ourselves in everything, everything in ourselves (or is that just Narcissus speaking through story, through science?). So you will search for yourself in this. You can’t not.

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film : interview

James N. Kienitz Wilkins

by Michael Guarneri

Documentary, reenactment, and comedic failures of democracy.

I met New York-based filmmaker James N. Kienitz Wilkins in 2012, when we both presented films at CPH:DOX, the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival. As often happens at festivals, we became friends during a party, and we have been corresponding ever since, given my scholarly interest in his feature film Public Hearing (2012).

Public Hearing is an experimental documentary that uses a publicly available transcript downloaded from the website of a small US town as its screenplay: filmed entirely in close-up and on black-and-white 16mm film, professional actors and non-actors reenact a real-life debate over the replacement of an existing Wal-Mart with a Super Wal-Mart.

As Public Hearing is about to be made public via free streaming, I was excited to ask James to make a public statement about a project that puts into question not only the ontology of documentary filmmaking but some of the fundamental atomic units of US democracy as well. Concurrent with the release of Public Hearing, the artist-made, online television network ACRE TV will broadcast the film's 106-hour making-of, a mammoth project consisting of fourteen VHS tapes called Public Hearing in Progress.

ACRE TV will be streaming Public Hearing in Progress for free, February 1 – March 21, 2015, every Saturday and Sunday, 12 PM to 8 PM CST. The broadcast is part of the collective program “Direct Object/Direct Action.” Automatic Moving Co. will be streaming Public Hearing for free on these same dates, with machine-translated subtitles in several languages.

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literature : interview

Felix Bernstein & Cecilia Corrigan

“I don’t think being a cynical, academically oriented deconstructor should stop one from being a wild and crazy performer.”

Cecilia Corrigan and I share a whirlwind of coincidental positions—wanting to perform and wanting to retreat into writing, hovering around the academy but insistent on humor, both of us in drag but unwilling to say what we’re dragging. And a whirlwind of skepticisms—of the homogeneity of queer theory and Conceptual poetry, the cliquish mediocrity of global art and Facebook poetry worlds, and the compulsive sucking up that the blonde girl and gay boy in their twenties are expected to relish. While rehearsing for Cecilia's theatrical book launch at Artists Space, we talked over our bones of contention until we cut all our personae to bits and finally felt some relief.

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music : interview

The Home of Easy Credit

by Whitney Curry Wimbish

Duo improvisation for loop pedal, upright bass, and child.

Musicians Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen and Tom Blancarte are wartime comrades, a bulwark of two against the armies of consumerism and conformity.

There is Louise now, removing the mouthpiece from her saxophone to play a sputtering song on the bare tube that sounds like a half-seen memory. The scene changes and she’s screaming into the mic, her voice full of rage and longing. Tom fills the room with an ominous drone as he tunes down his bass. He slaps the fingerboard and the brain registers a fist on piano keys, not a bow on strings. Tom again, after the scream, thrums a melody I don’t hear until it’s stopped.

The two met in 2008, each already an established participant in the avant-garde music scene, and married the next year. Performing as The Home of Easy Credit, they’ve toured across Europe and the US nearly nonstop, pausing last year after the birth of their first child, Freyja, then setting out again two months later. Their bases are New York and Denmark, Louise’s home country, but they stay in neither for long. The battle awaits.

This conversation took place in late October over Skype, shortly after the pair returned to Denmark from a nine-show tour through seven European countries.

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film : interview

Desiree Akhavan

by Steve Macfarlane

Exiled to adulthood.

Desiree Akhavan's superb Appropriate Behavior stars the writer-director as Shirin, a bisexual twenty-something equally as dissatisfied with the bourgeois pressures of her Iranian parents as she is with the spray-paint-meets-vomit milieu of Hipster Brooklyn. Even if all Shirin thinks she needs is a little understanding, she's also looking for a major life change. Whether she realizes it or not, she ends up finding both in a long-term relationship with lesbian activist Maxine (Halley Feiffer). As described, Akhavan’s film may sound like indie boilerplate; it’s also world-wise and bitterly hilarious, as memories of the genesis and slow death of Shirine and Maxine’s romance are refracted—Memento or Annie Hall style—against Shirin's ongoing spinout as a newly single woman. It’s no stretch to interpret Akhavan’s film as a reflection on the limited use of identity politics in navigating a one-size-fits-all quarter-life crisis: penniless and emotionally ruined, Shirin finds no solace in any of her disparate cultural blocs, remaining closeted to her parents while her queerness is written off by Maxine as a “phase.”

And yet the question of whether or not Maxine is right is kept, to Behavior’s credit, wide open. Shirin’s self-destruction/indulgence (including a riotously ill-advised rebound with a cloneoid, mush-brained Bushwick artist) dares the audience to maintain sympathy, as the character’s faux pas gracefully segue from legitimately funny to legitimately sad. The poster for Appropriate Behavior shows Shirin, after being invited to a putatively open-minded couple’s apartment to mess around, realizing there’s no room left for her in yet another preconceived narrative. It’s the harsh, turbid reality outside these tidy categorizations where Akhavan’s antiheroine—and indeed, any New Yorker—will have to square themselves, exiled into adulthood one letdown at a time. Hot on the heels of last year's Obivous Child and Listen Up Philip, one could hardly be blamed for wondering if it’s safe, finally, to watch New York indie comedies again.

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