Arts & DesignCapitalismEssaysFeatureIn DepthLiberal Democracy in Question

Ghostwork: Endgames in Art & Politics

Along the Limmat River in Zürich, the Swissmill building is in operation at full clip around the clock. Originally a textile factory, the site at Sihlquai was converted to a grain mill in 1843. By 1876 it was considered the most modern milling facility on the European continent with its use of chilled cast iron rollers for cracking open wheat grain and separating the outer layer of bran. Now a patchwork of buildings that harken back to different eras of growth and expansion, the Stadtmühle  (or City Mill) exterior conceals a complex, digitally controlled high-tech organism that vibrates with the mechanical rhythms of modern production.   …



Just Do It

On Stiegler and LaBeouf in the neganthropocene

One way of understanding Shia LaBeouf’s “Just Do It” motivational video is as a translation of Bernard Stiegler’s recent work about “escaping the anthropocene.” And vice versa. Reading Stiegler’s essays and watching LaBeouf’s video are essentially the same experience: one feels exhilarated, thrilled, excited (as if one might really do the impossible) and then a little disappointed.

Stiegler’s latest essays, many translated into English by Daniel Ross, sharpen the thought of a new type of urgency and are in some ways quite simple. This thought of urgency — figured as an “alternative” — is expressed succinctly at …

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The Spectacle of Art’s Reproduction

On the Venice Biennale 2015

When entering the bookstore of the 56th Venice Biennale of Art, you may think that having Marx’s Capital, Benjamin’s Theses on the Philosophy of History, and the official catalog of the Milan Expo 2015 displayed next to each other is just a fortuitous — and not particularly happy — coincidence. Expo 2015 cost 14 billion euros, utilized thousands of people who worked for free or low wages and in precarious conditions, caused major environmental damage …

Arts & DesignReviews

The Guantánamo Saga in Laurie Anderson’s “Habeas Corpus”

A review and reflection

On a brilliantly sunny, fall afternoon, a dozen members of Witness Against Torture — a grassroots group long dedicated to closing the prison camp at Guantánamo — broke from our marathon strategy meeting to see the GTMO-themed installation of the renowned performance artist Laurie Anderson. Titled “Habeas Corpus,” the groundbreaking exhibit was up …

Arts & DesignCapitalismEducationEssaysTheory & Practice

The Triumph of Design (Thinking)

What's wrong with useful creativity

September’s edition of that venerable and elite journal of contemporary capitalism, the Harvard Business Review, is devoted to the evolution of something called “design thinking” and its role in current business practices. We are all likely familiar with the way in which design has come to play a central role in the viability of almost all consumer products, but …

Arts & DesignReviews

Is Opera Back?

Two years ago, I thought opera was dead and, being a great lover of it, I invited you to celebrate with me a nostalgic funeral eulogy for the beautiful daughter of the Italian Renaissance. Saturday night, for the first time since I wrote that piece, I had the impression it has been resurrected.

The Bonfire of the Vanities, with music by Stefania de Kenessey and libretto by Michael Bergmann, premiered on 9-10 October at El Teatro at El Museo …


Between Freud and Einstein

On the homology at the heart of modernist art