Daily Postings
literature : review

Futurism, Hashtags, & the Old Wild West

by Jeffrey Grunthaner

Douglas Kearney's buck studies recasts worn out notions of black masculinity.

Douglas Kearney's buck studies (Fence Books, 2016) remaps the 20th century in a project that is both lyrical and epic, personal and historical. The work references a cacophonous range of topics including vintage pop songs, Modernism, #blacklivesmatter, and Italian Futurism. Fiercely committed to identity politics, Kearney recasts historical personae to create a chorus of complex identities throughout the text, reassigning sacred figures and characters to the circumstances of a later time. In a section called "Ecce Cuniculus," a humorous retelling of the Stations of the Cross, Jesus becomes Brer Rabbit. In "Mane," the first poem in the collection, Stagger Lee's "hard bad rock song" guns down Billy Lyons, a tragic misuse of bravado inserted into the same imagistic plane as Eddie Murphy's "The Nutty Professor" character: "what a man what a mighty badman. / Lee as some Herakles! Herakles!"

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film : review

Auteur Gone Wild

by Elina Alter

On the risqué drawings of Sergei Eisenstein

At the top of a narrow white staircase off 26th Street, a film shoot is taking place. Two make-up artists daub an actor with rouge; a harried costume designer straps a prosthesis to a toga-clad Nero in a French production; der Regisseur [the director] fusses while his cameraman naps. This affair is polyglot as well as pornographic: the German is chastising a naked couple, the prosthesis is a penis, and one can figure just where the rouge is being applied. Such is the imagery of these captioned drawings, made in 1941, culled from the prodigious paper works of the Soviet film director and theoretician Sergei Eisenstein. Historian Joan Neuberger puts the "conservative estimate" at 5,000; a judicious eighty-four drawings, held in a private collection, are now on view as "Sergei Eisenstein: Drawings 1931–1948," at Alexander Gray Associates. In graphite or pencil, with accents in blue and red, the drawings are cleanly contoured, skillful variations on verboten activities. Couplings and positions include bull athwart man, priest atop steeple, and woman occupied by candelabrum—the latter sporting little martyrs from its seven candlesticks. The woman seems deeply pleased; the martyrs, being martyrs, less so.

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art : interview

Carl D'Alvia

by Laurie Simmons

"Statuary. Please explain."

I met Carl D'Alvia in the spring of 2005 at the American Academy in Rome, where he was sharing a vast rooftop studio with his wife, the painter Jackie Saccocio. I visited their studio often and became aware of Carl's patient and painstakingly slow process of making sculpture. He seemed right at home in the land of Bernini, Michelangelo, and Borromini. I've been a follower and a fan ever since and caught up with him on a chilly day last March in his Connecticut studio.

Laurie Simmons I love your work, but sometimes I find myself staring at it and thinking you've been making the same sculpture over and over again, for how many years?

Carl D'Alvia Well, I sort of started around 1999 in terms of this body of work—my mature body of work, let's say—so yes, it's been 16–17 years.

LS If I were summarizing your work for a Martian, somebody who knew nothing—

CD A dumb Martian.

LS (laughter) A Martian who's not interested in art, I would say that this guy Carl takes different shapes—some like animals, some of them vegetable or minerals—and renders mostly hair and fur, moving to feathers, on the surfaces of all these shapes.

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art : oral history

Peter Bradley

by Steve Cannon Quincy Troupe Cannon Hersey

Peter Bradley is fast: fast-talking, fast-thinking, fast-living. So fast, in fact, that so many of us are still trying to keep up with him today. Brimming with a certain velocity and vigor that has brought him around the world and back, all the while keeping a great sense of class and determination, Peter Bradley reached a level of success in the New York City art scene of the '70s and '80s that is like no other. The bearer of many hats (art dealer, curator, painter, sculptor, musician, teacher), Peter's story is one worth knowing, full of great anecdotes and historical narratives that reveal a picture of the past that is otherwise still unknown to many scholars and historians. From his time as associate director at Perls Gallery on Madison Avenue to curating the seminal exhibition, The De Luxe Show, 1971 in Houston, Texas to his time spent making sculptures in South Africa during the apartheid in the '80s to touring with jazz musician Art Blakey, Peter has proceeded through life with irresistible swag and toughness that is both infectious and, at times, overwhelming—never looking back, always moving forward. For this edition of BOMB's Oral History Project, Peter invited three longtime friends and colleagues to interview him: poet Steve Cannon, poet and writer Quincy Troupe, and artist Cannon Hersey. Focusing on different periods of his life and career, each interview delves deep into the world of Peter Bradley; one full of mystery, grit, and color.

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literature : review

Projectile Poetry

by Zoë Hitzig

War, worship, and capital in Danniel Schoonebeek's Trébuchet

"Never let a serious crisis go to waste," retorted Rahm Emanuel, then-Chief of Staff, when questioned about the Obama administration's post-recession economic plans. What he meant at the time was that the 2008 crisis offered an opportunity to introduce deep, systemic changes to the status quo. Nearly a decade after the crisis, neoliberalism is stronger than ever. The curious refortification of neoliberalism is the subject of economic historian Philip Mirowski's Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste (Verso, 2013), that takes its title from Emanuel's quip. Mirowski's thesis, in broad strokes, is that neoliberalism survived the financial crisis because it's no longer a school of thought that some adhere to more than others. Instead, we are all neoliberals now; neoliberalism is somehow within us. We inhabit "entrepreneurial" selves—as evidenced by our self-promotion and self-branding on social media. We instantiate the inherent logic of neoliberalism on a daily basis, unable to see our own positions inside of it. 

Danniel Schoonebeek's explosive sophomore poetry collection, Trébuchet (University of Georgia Press, 2016), is a Mirowskian call to arms that challenges our contemporary American brand of capitalism and demands that we confront our own role in perpetuating it. Trébuchet defines itself in its prologue as "a book like the earth you might salt if you warred against you." Schoonebeek's vision is one in which we "war" against ourselves and destroy our means of production thereafter, as Rome sowed salt in the fields after conquering Carthage to render the following harvests unyielding. He communicates his vision in incendiary poems that range from curt lyrics evoking antiquity ("Archilochos," "Telémakos," "Chorus," "Trojan") to prose poems written in present-day legalese ("Poem with a Gun to Its Head"). The poems scour the page in formal novelty—four have gutters down the center, one is an erasure, one is a diagram, one is horizontally rendered, and the final poem, "Dark-Eyed Junco Was Her Name," takes place over 43 pages, many of which hold just a handful of words. Often, Schoonebeek grapples with contemporary politics head-on in poems such as "Glasnost," "Reaganomics," and "Neutrality." But these critiques also take place within the context of an abstract, universal "kingdom" about which the book tells a folktale. This kingdom perennially destroys itself, only to rebuild the elements of war and capital: "new monuments / new gasworks and watchtowers, / new barriers, new thrones, and new battlements."

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film : interview

Kristi Zea & Jacki Ochs

by Coleen Fitzgibbon

"I wanted to do a movie about a woman I respect—a woman artist."

Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray is a new documentary film about the life, groundbreaking work, and legacy of the renowned artist. Notable for her shaped canvases and bold colors, Murray's dynamic career was cut short by cancer in 2007, just a few years after her retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (an opportunity seldom afforded to women at the time). Director Kristi Zea—the Oscar-nominated production designer for films by Jonathan Demme, James L. Brooks, and Martin Scorsese—debuts with this intimate portrait of her friend, making use of candid footage, home video, and personal journals. Producer Jacki Ochs, also an experimental and documentary filmmaker (Letters Not About Love and Vietnam: The Secret Agent), joins in for this conversation.

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literature : interview

Marcelo Morales

by Kristin Dykstra

"There was no capitalist reality segregated from socialist reality. There was one reality, period."

Marcelo Morales, born nearly twenty years after Cuba's 1959 revolution, is younger than many island writers whose works have been translated and circulated abroad. Part of his acclaim is his willingness to addresses the twenty-first century in prose poetry that boldly takes on both public and private aspects of Cuban history.

His newest poetry collection, El mundo como ser (The World as Presence, University of Alabama Press, 2016), appears deceptively straightforward as compared to Cuba's writerly tradition, which is so rich in stylistic complexity. We see, through the eyes of Morales's speaker, how a dystopic Havana confronts a moment that feels suspiciously like the end of its own history.

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art : interview

Ivy Nicholson

by Conrad Ventur

"One white lie gave me a ten-year career in modeling."

I met Ivy Nicholson by chance in Tompkins Square Park in 2006. Recognizing her from afar, I summoned her my way, "Pose for a picture with my 'zine'?" She stood there holding a copy of my USELESS magazine. Click. Then she was on her way, and I moved to London. It wasn't for another few years before I found a reason to call her. It was the release of Andy Warhol's catalogue raisonné by Calle Angell—a catalogue of Warhol's epic 16mm film portrait series—that opened my world to the Superstars. I was living in London when it was released, but the thought of redoing Warhol's screen tests percolated in my thoughts. With such a detailed resource at my fingertips I was able to research all the names, find out who was still alive, and begin the process of reaching out. When I moved back to New York in 2009 I called Factory photographer Billy Name and asked if we could try redoing a screen test together. Later I videotaped Bibbe Hansen, and then in 2010 I videotaped Jonas Mekas, Ivy Nicholson and her daughter Penelope Palmer (who Warhol filmed when she was only a few months old), Ultra Violet, Mary Woronov, Taylor Mead, and many others. Videotaping Ivy and Penelope led to four years of photographing the two of them—as well as Penelope's twin brother Gunther—in and around their apartment in Staten Island, up until Ivy and Gunther moved temporarily to Kentucky and then onward to LA in 2014.

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film : interview

Ognjen Glavonić

by Pamela Cohn

"It's really important that my colleagues, the filmmakers from all Yugoslav countries, turn their cameras toward themselves, so as to dissect and question what really constitutes our recent history."

In his brief filmmaking career, Ognjen Glavonić has made not one, but two works of nonfiction that defy categorization. This is an artist who never planned on making documentaries at all. In fact, his latest work started out as a fiction script about a truck driver who becomes an unwitting participant in the cover-up of a mass murder. But Glavonić, flooded with articles, documents, and tribunal transcripts from The Hague and Belgrade Special Court that recount the discovery of mass graves in Serbia was compelled to dig much deeper into how that discovery came about, in the process creating a profoundly moving ode to the silenced victims.

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literature : first proof

Three Poems

by Elizabeth Metzger

Sex with angels
was the template for my grief—
I gorged myself on marble guns
with impotent marble triggers.
You better, you better,   yes you
The angels begged me to release them,
batting their sights at shadows.        
Angels, you better go home.  
To achieve oneness of mind and wound      
one must serve another.

Okay, I said,
as they called back their ammo.
It's hard to tell if their tongues
were working, or if it was me
who had run out of movable parts.

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art : interview

Daido Moriyama

by Bree Zucker

"The street is always interesting because any world of images I construct is promptly dismissed once I go outside."

Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama has garnered near-cult fascination since his images began to infiltrate the American consciousness in the late 1990s. At that time, his work rode to prominence on the wave of discovery surrounding Japanese photography—especially for book enthusiasts, who championed the strangely beautiful amalgam of poetic anti-hero and street snapshot genius in Moriyama's urban wanderings. His photo-essay memoirs of post-war Japan, Memories of a Stray Dog, were finally translated into English by Nazraeli Press in 2004, cementing his seizure of hearts worldwide as its carefully crafted texts met their match in light and shadow. Moriyama's work, passionate, personal, melancholic, bound by an obsession with memory, has since taken over—so much so, that he is now called the father of street photography.

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looking back

Looking Back on 2016: Literature & Music

Selections by Domenick Ammirati, Sebastian Black, Gabriele Beveridge, Amina Cain, Will Chancellor, Keith Connolly, Nicholas Elliott, Wendy Ewald, Joe Fyfe, Lindsay Hunter, Ellie Krakow, Evan Lavender-Smith, Jonathan Lethem, Rebekah Weikel, and Jack Whitten.

As 2016—a year drawn out by all manner of tumult—finally winds down, a handful of BOMB's contributors share the books, albums, sounds, and sights that challenged, fascinated, or pushed them through.

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looking back

Looking Back on 2016: Art & Film

Selections by Lucas Blalock, Carmen Boullosa, Liz Collins, Ricky D'Ambrose, Andrew Durbin, Scott Esposito, Jen George, Brent Green, Carlos A. Gutiérrez, Karl Holmqvist, Roberto Juarez, Baseera Khan, Jaime Manrique, Isaac Pool, Marina Rosenfeld, Frederic Tuten, Wendy Vogel, and Alex Zafiris.

As 2016—a year drawn out by all manner of tumult—finally winds down, a handful of BOMB's contributors share the exhibits, artworks, videos, and films that challenged, fascinated, or pushed them through.

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literature : first proof

After the Rides

by Ian Caskey

We took the shuttle to the entrance of the theme park. My father said, Remember our car is in Squiggly section C.

The day was thrilling.

When we returned to Squiggly section C, there was another family inside our car. They looked just like our family. My father stopped my mother and I from yelling at them as they drove away.

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art : review

See & Be Seen

by Maika Pollack

On David Salle's How to See

Since his dynamite assessment of last year's "Forever Now" show at MoMA—which in many ways struck me as better and more thoughtful than the exhibition itself, particularly in its ability to map current trends in painting onto styles of contemporary fiction—I have been a fan of David Salle's writing on art.

So, naturally, I took notice when he published a whole book of criticism. Most of its pieces were originally written for Town & Country, The Paris Review, ArtNews, or Interview. (There are also several pieces concerning John Baldessai, Salle's professor at CalArts, that have not previously been published.) How to See seems pitched for a general audience, or perhaps an audience of art students: "The idea for this book is to write about contemporary art in the language artists use when they talk among themselves," Salle says in his introduction. By "artists" Salle means painters, since the art he writes about in this book is almost overwhelmingly all painting—and good painting too, from Amy Sillman to Francis Picabia to Albert Ohlen.

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music : portfolio

Field Recording

by Chris Watson

Orford Ness on the eastern coast of England is the longest shingle spit in Europe. For twelve miles this lichen-colored tongue of shifting sand and pebbles curls out into the North Sea. The Ness is a remote and isolated place, an uninhabited no-man’s-land, for decades occupied solely by the military for practicing the dark arts of war.

Paradoxically, Orford Ness is now a nature reserve where the buildings of the British Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, abandoned during the 1960's, are now being allowed to decline and decay—a controlled ruination, withered by the forces of a westerly wind blown in from Siberia. The Ness has been shaped and shifted by the tides over millennia, and brackish water creeping into the creek pushes curlew and redshank inland toward the marshes.

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art : comment

Dispatch from Standing Rock #4

by Ati Maier

Brooklyn-based artist Ati Maier is currently in North Dakota, where she has joined the Standing Rock Sioux in their demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This fourth installment features images and audio captured just after the Army Corps of Engineers’ announcement that it will not approve an easement to allow the pipeline to cross under the Missouri River.

While the news has been heralded as a victory for the thousands gathered at the Oceti Sakowin encampment, many water protectors have underscored the fact that their fight is far from over. Eric, a veteran who has been at Standing Rock since early November, provides commentary, vowing to stay until all pipeline equipment has been removed. Spiritual leader Coyote, meanwhile, remarks on the importance of indigenous prayer practices and respect for natural resources so often regarded as mere commodities.

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art : review

Sondra Perry’s Resident Evil

by Terence Trouillot

Black memes, black bodies.

How do artists, black artists in particular, respond creatively and critically to the viral images of black death in the media without falling prey to sensationalism? Or, simply put: How do artists take inspiration from such abject imagery without coming off as trite?

Presently, there's an ongoing trend among artists to not only take the Black Lives Matter movement as subject matter, but also to repurpose media footage of black suffering in the hopes of gleaning new meaning through their own permutations. Carrie Mae Weems's Grace Notes: Reflections for Now (2016), Arthur Jafa's Love is the Message, the Message is Death (2016)—currently showing at Gavin Brown Enterprise in Harlem—and even Julie Mehretu's Conjured Parts (Eye), Ferguson (2016) are all cogent examples of artists culling images from the media and recasting or reinterpreting them to create spaces of introspection and empowerment.

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art : comment

Dispatch from Standing Rock #3

by Ati Maier

Brooklyn-based artist Ati Maier is currently in North Dakota, where she has joined the Standing Rock Sioux in their demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This past Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not approve an easement to allow the pipeline to cross under the Missouri River—a major step forward for the thousands of tribal leaders, veterans, and other water protectors who have gathered at the Oceti Sakowin encampment over the past several months.

This third installment features images and interviews made on December 3, before the Army's announcement the next afternoon. Artist Cannupa Hanska Luger, an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes who was born in the Standing Rock area but now lives in New Mexico, speaks about the mirror shields he designed and distributed to water protectors on the front lines. With the organizing help of Rory Wakemup of All My Relations Arts in Minneapolis, 500 mirror shields were distributed throughout the camp, culminating in a performance, portions of which are presented here.

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literature : review

A Wrinkle in Swing Time

by Chase Quinn

Friendship and the lies we tell ourselves in Zadie Smith’s Swing Time.

Swing, a jazz term, is about resisting expectations, embracing surprise, and establishing flow. Zadie Smith's Swing Time (Penguin Press, 2016) evokes this concept in literature by depicting how powerful our illusions about time and place can be. While tilling the ever-fertile soil of race, class, and gender relations with signature wit, Swing Time achieves its greatest insights engaged in questions about friendship and shifts in perspective. What results is an unswerving examination of some of our deepest and most neurotic anxieties. The fear that, for instance, people are far less predictable than we might like to believe. Or worse still, the notion that someone you thought you knew, beyond hurting or disappointing you, might utterly exceed your expectations.

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art : review

The Artificial Life

by Andrea Kleine

Odyssey Works has an audience of one—and a book for the rest of us.

Looking at a stranger's Facebook or Instagram feed, you often develop an affinity for the person. You feel you know them. You might actually be "friends" without ever meeting. These incorporeal pals might make you feel good. They might influence your decisions. They might even change your life. Or you might, someday, be introduced and excitedly blurt out, "We're friends online!" You might feel awkward or bashful afterward, then interact with them less often as a result, wishing to go back to not knowing them, to connecting only with an idea of who they might be.

I thought these things as I read Odyssey Works' eponymous book (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016). The quasi theater company/immersive art experience collective, primarily instigated by Abraham Burickson and Ayden Leroux, creates "odysseys" for one audience member by infiltrating their lives, threading an artificial narrative through reality so intrinsically that the participant/subject/observer might not be aware their journey has begun until the Jungian synchronicities take over. Their family may be in on it. Their best friends might be double agents. Out of this elaborate undertaking, Odyssey Works seeks to provide a shifting of perception, a sort of psychological rapid detox, an infusion of wonder. Their goal is to create art that can have the deepest affect on people, and to accomplish this they have reduced their audience size to a single soul.

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