As a writer, I have become slightly perturbed by the state of corporatized digital media. It is becoming increasingly difficult to express any opinion that might diverge from the prevailing narratives of our time. So, this blog will serve as an outlet for my observations, my tastes, my experiences, my anxieties, my habits, and otherwise.
2018 was a year of conflict for geopolitical, sociological, and personal reasons. But if I had to boil the year down to a single notion, that notion would be outrage. Outraged when I watch CNN and see white, middle aged fascistic Trump talking heads lie to my face that what I’m seeing right in front of my face isn’t actually happening. Outraged at the death of nuance and the further corporatization of the flow of information and ideas. But more than anything, I’m outraged over the death of intellectualism. Outraged at the right wing’s cult worship of an objectively horrible president and morally bankrupt human being. I also have at times been outraged by the left’s outrage: cancel culture, de-platforming, Twitter freak outs. I feel a bit out of phase with the culture, to be honest. Superhero movies are suddenly worth the kind of critical praise normally associated for auteur-driven cinema. Mind-numbingly simplistic television series warrant more cultural discussion that transcendent works of literature. It can be a drag to be a cranky, youngish but aging, intellectual snob living in this era.
Nevertheless, 2018 was a magnificent year for art. Art can carry you through, and help you achieve a relation of yourself, your being, to the world around you. Susan Sontag once wrote that a photograph can be “a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power.” I’d wager that this assertion can apply to any work of creative energy: a text, an object, a film, whatever. This year, I found myself engrossed by the new records that I listened to, the new films that I watched, and the new books that I read. In many ways, I found more power in culture in 2018 than in any other year that I’ve been alive. But of course, contemporary art is my cultural domain. The area in which I develop my most cohesive opinions. I share here the exhibitions, the art, that most challenged me and appealed to my personal understanding of what great art is (note, all exhibitions took place in New York, my home city).
Fall programming at New Museum (Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel, Marianna Simnett: Blood in my Milk, Marguerite Humeau: Birth Canal, Dan Herschlein: The Architect)
David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night, The Whitney
Beside Me, curated by Dan Herschlein, JTT Gallery
Tala Madani Corner Projects, 303 Gallery
Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts, MoMA and MoMA PS1
Art and Conspiracy: Everything is Connected, Met Breuer
Saul Fletcher: Four Loom Weaver, Anton Kern Gallery
Endless Enigma: Eight Centuries of Fantastic Art, David Zwirner
Frida Orupabo: Cables to Rage, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York
Heji Shin: Men Photographing Men, Reena Spaulings
Huma Bhabha: With a Trace, Salon 94, and The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Met’s Iris and Gerald B. Cantor Roof Garden
Kandis Williams, Eurydice, Night Gallery