Nearly a decade after the attacks of September 11, 2001, America continues to inspire a host of conflicted feelings—from admiration to heated criticism—both within its borders and around the globe. Artists grapple with these unpredictable, baffling, frightening—and sometimes wondrous—times, producing art engaged with what might loosely be called the American psyche, the contested landscape and culture in this moment of flux and political division.
MAX BLAGG is the author of Don't Look Back, a collaboration with Jack Pierson (Carpe Diem, 2007); Marine—Ten Poems (Jablonka Gallery, Berlin, 2008); and the forthcoming Ticket Out. DAVID CAMPANY writes and curates. His books include Art and Photography (Phaidon, 2003) and Photography and Cinema (Reaktion, 2008).
Rulers, military strategists, political theorists, and religions make a habit of trying to change the world. In the first half of the twentieth century, an uncommon number of artists and art movements laid plans to do the same—not just to change art but to change human consciousness, perception, and the very nature of daily life.
In the view of Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, commonly identified as the political conscience of Latin America, activism is the intrinsic fuel of Latin American history. Since World War II, leading up to NAFTA's free-trade negotiations of the 1990s, this aggressive stance became associated with various aspects of Latin American culture—with the notable exception of its art.
New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, America's leading multi-arts complex, has had a remarkable half-century of existence, as seen in the exhibition Lincoln Center: Celebrating 50 Years, which tracked the center's life from planning and construction through the many music, theater, dance, film, and opera productions that have taken place since its opening.
POINTS OF VIEW: CAPTURING THE 19TH CENTURY IN PHOTOGRAPHS
To every technology its age; to every age its consciousness. Such might have been the watchword of Points of View, the exhibition of nineteenth-century photographs at the British Library galleries earlier this year. Drawing on the library's collection of more than three hundred thousand images, the 250 works on display charted the genesis and rise of a medium that not only documented modernity, but also—the show seemed to intimate—was fundamental to its establishment.
From nineteenth-century British colonialists' vistas of the Himalayas to contemporary shots of heaving slums in brilliant hues, the Indian subcontinent has long been both defined and tyrannized by the camera. Where Three Dreams Cross is an overdue survey of photography that is firmly from rather than about Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.
How Too Much Information Cast Doubt on a Murder Investigation in the Middle East
The following text was written in response to a Gulf News TV video titled "The Murder of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh," which can be viewed in three nine-minute parts on Youtube: follow links via "mabhouh CCTV." Context for the Tapes Think of Dubai as sixteenth-century Venice, only with a state-of-the-art international airport, high-speed Internet—and nearly as many surveillance cameras as all the casinos in Las Vegas.
Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick's photographic collaboration has taken many forms, all based on love and respect for family and community. Together they have photographed dockworkers, sugarcane workers and their families, men incarcerated in prisons such as the Louisiana Penitentiary at Angola, and the expressive beauty of the local culture-including Mardi Gras "second lines," dance, music, and foodways.
In vain, great-hearted Kublai, shall I attempt to describe Zaira, city of high bastions. I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and the degree of the arcades' curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing.
Two small, dusty, cardboard boxes were recently unearthed at the Quinta Los Barandales, a farmhouse some thirty miles west of Mexico City that houses the Fundación Toscano’s historical film archive, home to one of the country’s foremost collections of silent newsreel footage.
I grew up with my extended family on a small farm in suburban Long Island. While malls and supermarkets developed around us, we followed many of the philosophies of the 1960s back-to-the-land movement. We heated with wood, farmed and canned our food, and bartered the plants we grew for everything from shoes to dental work.
Óscar Fernando Gómez lives in Monterrey, Mexico. For fifteen years he worked as a photographer of weddings and quinceaños celebrations. Going from job to job, he found he was spending a lot of time in taxis, and so, in 2005, he decided to supplement his income by renting a green Nissan Tsuru and becoming a taxi driver himself.
Let’s look at the facts. A man in a dark suit in a dark alleyway holds a divining rod. A woman stands on a gridded mat, her fingers wired for some kind of monitoring. A girl’s head and arms poke out of one cardboard box while her legs extend from another, like a magician’s trick.
MIKE MANDEL: THE BASEBALL-PHOTOGRAPHER TRADING CARDS
In 1974, just a year before Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan, classmates at the San Francisco Art Institute, were awarded a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts to pursue what eventually became their seminal project Evidence, Mandel found himself becoming frustrated by the growing competitiveness within photographic circles.
A MULTIMEDIA EXHIBITION ORGANIZED AND CURATED BY ERIC FISCHL
E. L. DOCTOROW
Pete Seeger made a poignant statement about music that may be applied to art in general: it can "help you survive your troubles, help distract you from your troubles. But [sometimes it] helps you understand your troubles, and...can help you do something about your troubles."
Artists in America don't usually band together. They are independent entrepreneurs of their imaginations. They create universes of which they are the sole occupants. They may influence one another, they may be bundled by critics as members of an aesthetic movement, but they work alone and think alone, and if they gather on social occasions, like the members of any trade, it is for warmth, for they all know how few of them there are and how unseen by most of the population.
The eighth edition of the biennial Rencontres de Bamako presented much excellent work and many contradictions, in shows distributed throughout several venues in Mali's capital city. The pan-African exhibition at the National Museum included an exceptionally strong showing from Central Africa.
The Parisians have a word, flânerie, that in English is similar to strolling, promenading, roaming— walking the streets without appointments, destinations, or deadlines. When a person walks the streets this way he or she makes discoveries others would miss.
What is Freedom? Like so many vaporous abstractions, it all depends on who you talk to. Janis Joplin's idea of freedom is different from Martin Luther King Jr.'s which is, in turn far different from George W. Bush's. And yet all lay claim to some crucial American tendency embodied in the word.
Perspective no longer seems to be a theme for modern art, having shaken off that legacy more than a century ago. If perspective is linked to the gaze, however, its formula can express the fact that the naive view of art has entered a state of crisis.
Lianzhou is not a city that beckons with great legend or ancient charms, and you are not likely to find it in the index of any Western travel book. Located in the little-trod northwest corner of China's Guangdong Province, the city is four hours from Guangzhou (and the nearest airport) by car or bus on an impossibly cracked and pot-holed road.
The future isn't what it used to be. It's 2010: this year marks the twentieth anniversary of Photoshop, and we stand poised to see an IMAX version of the Hubble telescope's photographs of the cosmos, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. The hall of mirrors that we call modern finance is in meltdown, and this is just everyday stuff for the cell-phone-mobile-camera-"enhanced-reality"-info-economy that we call home.