“Portraits & Perennials,” an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Robert Kushner, opens tonight at DC Moore Gallery, where it’s on display through March 18. In an essay accompanying the exhibition catalog, “Do REAL Men Paint Flowers?”, Kushner writes, “So, are geometry and botany at peace? In dialogue? At each other’s throats? I would like to think that when I am done after working on it for weeks and sometimes months, there is an interesting and intentionally confusing juxtaposition between pure abstraction and linear form—that they each balance one another and create their own tightrope act.”
“Famous last words” and Japanese death poems offer two strikingly different approaches to mortality.
I was born in the middle of March in a small town in China. My parents didn’t give me a name; they simply never got around to choosing one. On April 7, I nearly died after choking—and they saddled me with that date as a moniker, a sort of inescapable memento mori. When I came to the United States, at age five, my mother told me I was to be named Angela, after a coworker of hers. Was this coworker particularly kind or smart or pretty? I asked. By all accounts, no. It seemed to be an entirely arbitrary decision.
Fittingly, I’ve long been fascinated by the traditions surrounding the words that bookend a life. There’s a split, I’ve found, between the East and the West: the latter favors spontaneous last words that serve as a final confirmation of your personal brand, whereas the East has a custom of premeditated death poems, jisei, that offer a rare chance to break with convention. These differing traditions offer a glimpse into the clash of individualism versus collectivism, spontaneity versus control—forces I’ve tried to balance in my own life, living between Asian and American culture. Read More
- So there’s this guy, Zoltan Istvan? He ran for president as a kind of single-issue candidate: he wanted to make America live forever. Literally. Steering his coffin-shaped “Immortality Bus” around the States, he laid out a transhumanist platform advocating for the abolition of death. He attracted a small but plucky band of volunteers, one of whom, Roen Horn, turned out to be especially fervent. Mark O’Connell talked to Horn about the promises of eternal life on Earth: “ ‘You know one really cool thing about being alive in the future?’ [Horn] asked. ‘What’s that?’ ‘Sexbots … You know, like A.I. robots that are built for having sex with.’ ‘Oh, sure,’ I said. ‘I’ve heard of sexbots. It’s a nice-enough idea. You really think that’s going to happen, though?’ ‘For sure,’ Horn said, closing his eyes and nodding beatifically, in momentary reflection upon some distant exaltation. ‘It’s something I’m very much looking forward to.’ ”
- Nan Goldin remembers discovering Ed van der Elsken’s photography when she was nineteen: “When I first saw Ed van der Elsken’s book Love on the Left Bank, I realized I had just met my predecessor. My real predecessor … In my own life, I have been obsessed with photographing the people who were my lovers, had been my lovers, or whom I wanted as lovers. Like Ed, I wrote myself in as the lover. Sometimes, the obsession lasted for years. It was photography as the sublimation of sex, a means of seduction, and a way to remain a crucial part of my subjects’ lives. A chance to touch someone with a camera rather than physically. It is this notion—of being obsessed with someone, and, through photographs, making that person iconic—that resonated with me in his work.”