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Posts Tagged ‘Tate Modern’

Staff Picks: Bad Calls, Bad Books, Breakups

June 24, 2016 | by

From Cemetery of Splendor.

A still from Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film Cemetery of Splendor.

Tate Modern, in London, recently showed Cemetery of Splendor, the new and wonderful movie by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. It was part of a weekend homage to the sly, metaphysical Thai filmmaker, including an all-night sequence of his complete works. Now, I am no longer young enough to watch movies all night, so I contented myself with my own home retrospective, including the wonderful bipartite movies Tropical Malady and Syndromes and a Century. In the new Tanks space at Tate Modern, which just opened this weekend, you can also see his installation Primitive, a nine-video extravaganza. There are few people thinking more rigorously, or more joyfully. —Adam Thirlwell

I was so relieved to read Tim Parks’s review of The Vegetarian, the Man Booker–winning novel by Korean Han Kang. The novel came recommended by a friend, so I persisted till the bitter end, despite grousing about every awkward sentence, every cliché, every narrative contradiction. I spent much of the first section wondering whether it was the fault of the writer or the translator. Parks was bothered by the same question and spends the space of his review examining the way content and style in the English translation work in relation to one another. He concludes that “the prose is far from an epitome of elegance, the drama itself neither understated nor beguiling, the translation frequently in trouble with register and idiom.” But for Parks, The Vegetarian isn’t merely a bad book badly translated; it’s representative of a “shared vision of what critics would like a work of ‘global fiction’ to be.” The desire to always see oneself in a story necessarily limits one’s view of the world, and seems to me to be the exact opposite reason for reading a book in translation—or any book, for that matter—in the first place. —Nicole Rudick

Just yesterday I was given two gorgeous chapbooks, both part of a series called Señal of contemporary Latin American poetry in translation. I began the first in the series—Sor Juana y otros monstruos, a dissertation (of sorts) in verse by Luis Felipe Fabre, translated by John Pluecker—this morning, and I haven’t been able to put it down. Fabre muses on the scholarship buzzing around the seventeenth-century poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, tackling one assertion in particular. “Yes: Sor Juana was a monster,” he writes. It’s a claim most academics accept as true, but “where they differ / is / / on what kind of monster she was.” Was she a phoenix? A sphinx? Will she, as Fabre imagines, return at night to devour her scholars because her body has never been found? And yet, the most striking question Fabre goes on to ask is this: “What kind / of monster is it whose power / resides in language?” Whatever it is, Fabre would be one, too; Sor Juana y otros mostruos is like nothing I’ve read in a long while. —Caitlin Youngquist
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What We’re Loving: Toomer, Kusama, and Train

July 13, 2012 | by

Yayoi Kusama, Self-Obliteration No. 1, 1962–67, watercolor, ink, graphite, and photocollage on paper, 15 7/8 × 19 13/16 in. Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London

Six years ago I wrote a little article about my favorite Washington, D.C., novels—and was roundly chastised for leaving Cane off the list. First published in 1923, Jean Toomer’s modernist classic isn't exactly about Washington, and it isn’t exactly a novel. It’s an early response to the Great Migration, in linked stories and verse, that moves from rural Georgia to U Street and back again. Still, it may well be the District’s greatest hit. It is pure lyricism, perfect for these late summer nights. —Lorin Stein

I caught a preview of the Yayoi Kusama retrospective that opened at the Whitney yesterday. If you’ve heard of her at all, it’s likely for her signature polka dots (or perhaps for her recent collaboration with Louis Vuitton). As a video in the show attests, her use of those dots was compulsive and obsessive: she sticks them on prone nudes, reclining cats, distracted dogs; they litter the ground, the wind, the sky. But most intriguing are her very early paintings, in which you can see Kusama working through the early masters of Western modernism. Of particular interest was a very odd painting incredibly titled Accumulation of Corpses (Prisoner Surrounded by the Curtain of Depersonalization), in which waves of red curtain folds pinhole a scene of bare trees. As chance would have it, the painting perfectly represented the book I’ve been reading, Windeye, Brian Evenson’s adroitly creepy new story collection. It’s kismet! —Nicole Rudick

What is glamour and how does one attain it? Is it curated, cultivated—or does it just arrive, like inspiration? Jim Lewis’s article for W magazine, “Face Forward,” is the perfect starting point for anyone intrigued by (or dismissive of) this fleeting, shimmering quality. For me, if beauty is an image, then glamour is imagery: aesthetics in the service of narrative. What is glamour, after all, but good storytelling? Presenting a glimpse of a lifestyle—or perhaps, a way of being—other, elsewhere, and then gone. —Alyssa Loh
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Dance to the Music of Time: Tacita Dean at the New Museum

June 25, 2012 | by

Merce Cunningham in "Five Americans."

Several times a week, I sneak downstairs to watch dancers rehearse with Merce Cunningham. I work at a nonprofit located in the New Museum and its current Tacita Dean exhibition includes Craneway Event, a 108-minute film of the choreographer at work in an enormous former assembly plant outside San Francisco. A postcard vista of the bay glistens in the background. As the sun creeps in, it warms the reflective surface of the floor to a bluish-gray so that in some shots water seems to ripple beneath the dancers’ feet.

Architect Albert Kahn originally designed the plant for maximum natural light. Stripped of furnishing and ornament, it looks porous rather than cavernous. There feels something almost prescriptively calming about looking at a space that size while living in a city as densely populated as New York; as if just by looking at it, I reclaim my proper wingspan after weeks in shoebox-sized studio apartments and subway cars sitting elbow-to-elbow with other passengers. My sense of time is similarly unreined. Nothing rushed, no antics, and absent of narrative; the film offers rather than requests my patience.

The term “time-based art” seems especially apt when discussing Tacita Dean’s work. In interviews, she talks of her delight in the period between shooting footage and processing it, as it allows her to revisit a film in progress with a new perspective. Her subjects might be defined broadly as the history slipping through our fingers: fleeting moments, obsolescing technology, the wisdom of an old master (Cunningham died a year after Craneway Event was made,) things just about to disappear.

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