Essays

Between Freud and Einstein

On the homology at the heart of modernist art

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Arts & DesignMulti MediaVideo

A Conversation with Edward Koren

“We deal with it by talking about it”

The Sandor Ferenczi Center at the New School recently had the pleasure of having longtime New Yorker cartoonist Edward Koren discuss his craft as part of its Arts in Mind series. The title of the event, “We deal with it by talking about it,” was derived from a well known New Yorker cartoon of Koren’s.

The evening was moderated by essayist and author, Joshua Shenk and psychologist, Jeremy Safran. Koren was interviewed by Richard Gehr, author of I Only Read It for the Cartoons: The New Yorker’s Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists. …

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Arts & DesignEssaysMedia/Publics

Rap as News or Art?

“Rap music is the CNN of the ghetto.” – Chuck D

Rap began — Chuck D nailed it — as news from the streets. Rap riffed ghetto life, syncopated in hard rhymes and dense metaphor the raw reality of the ghetto. In Ronald Reagan’s America, blacks in the ghettos from Harlem to Bed Stuy to South Central formed what George Bataille called the heterogeneous element of society — or the unassimable byproduct of a culture, born of that culture, upon which the culture rests. In plain English, rap was the art of the dispossessed, and as the art of the dispossessed, it tells us the truth of the trickle-down economic era from the mouths of those who were held far beneath the place where the trickle dried up. …

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Arts & DesignEssaysMedia/Publics

9/11 and the Visual Culture of Disaster

I remember the week after September 11, 2001, when the subway from Brooklyn into Lower Manhattan was back in limited service, getting off at Broadway-Lafayette and feeling somewhat disoriented when my usual landmark indicating south, the World Trade Center, was missing from the downtown skyline. The specter of the World Trade Center was soon enough evoked by Art Speigelman in his September 24, 2001, New Yorker magazine cover of the Twin Towers as black silhouettes against a black background. The Twin Towers haunted the New York skyline again a few months later in the Tribute in Light installation of 88 search lights configured in the buildings’ original footprints and projected upward into the night…

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Arts & DesignCapitalismEssays

How I Got Over

Like most people in the arts, for many years I supported my artistic activities, along with the rest of my life, by holding down a day job. Corporate communications and advertising primarily in financial services were not such a bad gig, actually, and, in fact, were what I trained to do by having a dual major in graphic design and painting. For the last 13 years of that time, I also mounted a performance piece, Getting Over at the Office (1987-2000), whereby I recoded aspects of my daily work life as art through a series of artifacts and documents. Much of the documentation consists of news releases, sent out intermittently to a mailing list that grew with time. The performance was a gesture through which I sought to reclaim the time that had been appropriated from me by the capitalist system. …

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Arts & DesignCapitalismEssays

Emerging Artists and the New Spirit of Capitalism

Pointing to the avarice of the art world, to its entanglement with big money, is an old game. Concerns about the “corrupting influence” of the market are likely as old as the market itself, and are still voiced with some frequency. Two years ago critic and art world bad boy Dave Hickey apparently gave up the whole thing in disgust, dismissing the entire art world as “stupid and nasty.” More recently David Bryne caused a surprising ripple of ire by describing how the big money of the Chelsea art scene was making it difficult for him to give the work itself a fair viewing. However, the issue of contemporary art’s relationship to capitalism is more complicated and thorny than being merely a matter of the staggering prices demanded at elite galleries. …

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Arts & DesignEssaysMedia/Publics

Pizzas for the People

Directed by Hwang Kim and produced by Festival Bo:m

In the course of a long running ideological conflict North Korea is one of the most culturally isolated countries in the world, which rejects any foreign influences through a tight control of media and communication equipment. To protect the North Korean identity from potential damaging western influences, short wave radios, for example, are banned, while TV receivers are locked to tune only to the 3 official channels. …

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Arts & DesignEssays

Palestinian Cinema and the Lived Experience of Occupation

“One thought alone preoccupies the submerged mind of Empire: how not to end, how not to die, how to prolong its era. By day it pursues its enemies. It is cunning and ruthless, it sends its bloodhounds everywhere. By night it feeds on images of disaster: the sack of cities, the rape of populations, pyramids of bones, acres of desolation.”

– J. M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians

The world is falling apart in Gaza. There is nothing more banal than that statement. There is also nothing truer. “Operation Protective Edge” has claimed close to 2,000 lives in its month long bombardment of Gaza. …

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