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Posts Tagged ‘Arlette Farge’

What We’re Loving: Archives, Architects, the Arctic Sky

April 25, 2014 | by

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Lebbeus Woods, San Francisco Project: Inhabiting the Quake, Quake City, 1995. Image via the Drawing Center

Sadie Stein already recommended Arlette Farge’s little book-length essay The Allure of the Archives. A year later, I have to second the recommendation. On the surface, this is a personal memoir by a feminist historian whose research—into eighteenth-century police files—fundamentally changed our picture of pre-revolutionary Paris. But really this is a handbook about how to write, how to think about, history. Gripping, graceful, and beautifully translated by Thomas Scott-Railton, it captures the fun and the dangers of library work like nothing I’ve ever read. —Lorin Stein

A new anthology from Brick introduced me to Don DeLillo’s “Counterpoint: Three Movies, a Book, and an Old Photograph,” an essay from 2004. That title belies both the piece’s range and its force of concentration. It looks at Glenn Gould, Thelonious Monk, and Thomas Bernhard, three isolated, brilliant men who craved and feared the seclusion that came with their work. DeLillo is interested not just in their difficult lives but in the cultural consensus we reached upon their deaths—who did we decide these men were, and why? As its images begin to collect, all of them rendered in that laser-cut DeLillo prose, the essay becomes a haunting account of the distance between an artist and his audience, his art, and himself. DeLillo has a rare gift for writing about the sensory experience of art, for tracing the vectors of meaning in sight and sound. “In a busy diner,” he writes of a scene from Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, “there are voices in layers and zones, some folded over others, in counterpoint.” And he condenses The Fast Runner into a solitary image, an image of, well, overwhelming solitariness: “The man is running, eyes wild, into the arctic sky.” —Dan Piepenbring

Lebbeus Woods, who died in 2012, was an artist’s architect. He imagined the buildings that cities would need when calamity came calling. His work exists almost exclusively as experiment—only one of his ideas was actually constructed—and 175 of his graphite dreams are currently on display at the Drawing Center in SoHo. Some look like gashes in the side of a building, or what would happen to a street if it suddenly woke up. Some are like seedpods split open and engorged, a home for one suspended by a slender stalk, and some are simply floating, free of the city entirely. Or maybe these are cities, untethered, finally free to found themselves. —Zack Newick Read More »

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What We’re Loving: Lustig, Kiwis, and Carousels

June 28, 2013 | by

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“In the United States, the country with the world’s highest prison population rate (followed closely by Russia), prisoners work for between 93 cents and $5 a day, if they’re paid at all … But the Gulag is an image firmly imprinted on our American brains. It’s easy to imagine—exciting, even, especially since it’s so far away.” A short history of the show trial, with unforgettable digressions, by Daily regular Sophie Pinkham. —Lorin Stein

In 1989, historian Arlette Farge published Le goût de l’archive, her account of immersing herself in the ancient records of the archives of the Bastille. While a virtual love letter to historiography may sound less than riveting, this is an engaging and strangely moving evocation of the pleasures of scholarship. Now out in a new translation (The Allure of the Archives) from Yale University Press. —Sadie O. Stein

Initially, David Ballantyne’s Sydney Bridge Upside Down seems like the perfect summer read: light in conflict, filled with the typical summer escapades that teenagers get into when there’s nothing better to do but get in trouble. However, Ballantyne’s an expert poker player, and a prime example of New Zealand literature (“slaughterhouse fiction”), in which the pastoral paradise initially imagined by Britain as a South Pacific Eden instead morphed from an economy of industrialized violence into casual societal violence. (See the recent Jane Campion miniseries Top of the Lake, for example.) No one leaves this novel unscathed, characters or reader. You’ve been warned. —Justin Alvarez

A few nights ago I watched Max Ophüls’s La Ronde. At the beginning of the movie and between each vignette in it, the omnipresent narrator delivers a little sing-song bit about the inevitable turn, turn, turn of romantic affairs while cranking a carousel round and round. And what a magnificent carousel it is—by far my favorite part of the movie. A turn-of-the-century model (La Ronde was filmed in France 1950 but set in fin-de-siècle Vienna), it has a wooden horse or two, but also a bicycle, a step-stool, a swing, an armchair. Oil lamps hang from the interior of its scalloped canopy. When looking for information about the provenance of this particular carousel, I came across images of two astounding modern carousels at the annual Christmas market in Brussels. This article gives the story behind them. —Clare Fentress

New Directions has put out the most beautiful set of postcards, featuring the book cover that the legendary Alvin Lustig designed between 1941 and 1953. Almost too pretty to use. —S.O.S.

 

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