Sculpture Kills

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Sculpture Kills is a in-progress book project & performance that surveys fatal works of contemporary art— sculptures that slay and performances that murder.

With examples such as Christo, Serra, Pippa Bacca, and Luis Jimènez, Sculpture Kills delves into the political and critical implications of deadly artworks.

These accounts set a precedent to discuss power balances in the art world and when monuments lead to violence in the public sphere. Sculpture Kills is a reexamination of the barrier between life, death and art.

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Judith Bernstein’s Archive

Courtesy of The Brooklyn Rail & Judith Bernstein

Courtesy of The Brooklyn Rail & Judith Bernstein

I’d like to think of the feminist archivist as an Aquarian water bearer, pouring information onto the land so that it is available for nourishment and growth. I do not think of Judith’s archives—or any—as dead before a necromancy ritual. Just because something is “undiscovered” does not mean it’s not breathing, or that art objects do not exist before they are shown or catalogued. An egalitarian approach to archiving within a feminist Ethics of Care confirms that we live in a continuous network and that we are all responsible for the creation and preservation of history.

The Brooklyn Rail, March 2019

HIGHWAY-GIRL

Nightmare on Elm Street

Nightmare on Elm Street

During another game, we made a banker pay to take us to NoBu 57, a famous sushi restaurant in Midtown. I chose the restaurant because their website quoted Kate Winslet saying that it was, “heaven on earth and sex on a plate.” 

Your Impossible Voice, Issue 17 Spring 2018

The Political Resonance of Contemporary Sculpture

Courtesy of Luhring Augustine & Hyperallergic

Courtesy of Luhring Augustine & Hyperallergic

The balance of conductive materials in “Revolution” creates a sense of volatile tension, of perpetual suspension in the harmonious moment before an explosion. Tunga’s sculpture suggests that a successful revolution requires a collective pause.

Judith Bernstein Shines a Blacklight on Trump’s Crimes

Courtesy of Kasmin Gallery

Courtesy of Kasmin Gallery

We ought to remember that in America, both cowboys and clowns have a history of murder. Violent crime and pop culture are what blacklight reveals in our psyche. Where one ends and the other begins in the Trump administration is what Judith Bernstein’s rage and humor thrusts into view.

HYPERALLERGIC | FEBRUARY 2018

YOU’RE KITSCH BUT YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL

An abundance of flowery work could point to a more conservative time, left and right alike. The violence of flowers – that which is shown is that which is palatable and that which is missing is that which has been censored. In the Disagreeable Rose by Naoki Sutter Shudo, the blade is exposed behind the petals, and the rose is partly made from a used cigarette filter. Although the blade acts as a literal thorn, consider the societal thorn in the Oscar Wilde story, The Birthday of the Infanta.

ART511 MAGAZINE | DECEMBER 2017

TOXICITY THROUGH PROXIMITY

Courtesy of the New Museum

Courtesy of the New Museum

The hotdog isn’t funny after “nothing is funny anymore.” Lord. High contrast heat vision makes the hotdog radioactive, a killer. Compassion fatigue for the sad sculpture.  An option for survival: ten minutes a day, pulling up weeds in the garden. An option for viewing: ten minutes of rest before you look further.

ART511 MAGAZINE | OCTOBER 2017

HUSBANDS

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After one of a foursome of good ol’ boys drops dead from a heart attack, the remaining three: Gus, Harry, and Archie (John Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk, respectively) embark on a grief-fueled bender with the stamina of their former youth, which they are mourning. Hard. Husbands (1970) by John Cassavetes, invites us to indulge in the folly of mid-life crisis, both in its comedy and danger. 

The opening montage illustrates their condition. Four middle-aged men make muscle-man poses poolside at a family reunion. Desperate and silly. They are not the athletes they’d aspired to be. They are just husbands. And that realization is filled with horror. One of the first lines of the film is, “Death is the most humiliating thing in the world.” So when their friend's funeral ends, backlash ensues. We descend into the drunken blather and stunted speech that Cassavetes masters. His dialogue gets to the heart of the matter by circumventing it in exhaustive scenes. Husbands barely hang onto reality as they drown in an, either absurd or impressive, amount of alcohol. We continue laughing at and with their antics, until a sing-a-long goes awry. Then we cringe for the men, as they will not sit with disgust at all. Stop guys. Please. Husbands becomes sinister at the moment women enter the frame, those who bear the brunt of the trio’s pain. The husbands humiliate them all. 

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Harry hits his wife. They take a pact of masculine and mutual understanding, and follow through on a drunken impulse to fly to London. It’s a comical choice to have a trio of American men from the suburbs of upstate New York attempt to soul search in the U.K. However, no expense can be spared when mid-life crisis rears its thinning mane. The husbands fly first class, order tuxedos, and fling money around a casino. They find women in an attempt to procure lost virility–and abuse them. Archie finds a woman, who after spending a sexless and silent night with him, runs away scared in the rain. Gus makes a clunky attempted rape, followed by a love confession, to a 6ft tall blonde named Mary. Harry meets Pearl and decides to stay. 

This film is painful to watch. But I love it. It’s cinéma vérité style presents a bleak understanding to masculinity on the fritz, and does not offer hope to either viewer or character. At the end of the film the remaining two, on the way back to the States repeat, “What will he do without us?”

What will you do without him? God-forbid another one of you dies. Then you’ll have to do the whole thing over again. 

GIA

Angelina Jolie occupies a special place in my heart. Meaning that at one point, I believed she had my whole heart. I had given it to her when I was twelve. Obsessive screenings of Tomb Raiderconsummated a forever-pact: to be willfully blind for the reward of being consistently mesmerized. Gia did not break this pattern. This is all a lesbian cliche, which the real life Gia Carangi stylistically influenced, more than most Angelina-obsessed-girls will probably ever know.

Gia Carangi was considered to be the first supermodel. She moved to NYC at 18, and was signed with Wilhelmina Models within months. She worked closely with “Willie” herself, played by Faye Dunaway in the 1998 film. In Gia’s 20/20 interview, which the film reenacts, she explains, “I started working with very good people, a lot of work, I mean all the time, very fast. I didn’t build into being a model. I just sort of became one.” Vogue described Gia’s career as “meteoric”. I think less of a meteor, and more of someone strapped to a time bomb. 

South Philly lilt and Gia’s difference, as not only incredibly beautiful but as an out lesbian (swagger) made the fashion world laud and book her presence as an individual. Her street attire, thrifted men’s clothing, motorcycle jackets and boots, helped create, but mostly popularize, “heroin chic”. This individualism is complicated though. Gia was not a rockstar. She was a model. Her look encapsulated a time period, and she reflected it, with cost. Gia rose with NYC out of the bankruptcy of the late seventies to the economic spike of the eighties. Capitalism exploded and people made more money than ever before. During the 1950’s, stars (like Ronald Reagan) were taxed 91%. From 1981 to 1986, the Reagan administration slashed the top income tax rate from 70% to 28%. The stock market ballooned 'til Black Monday. The fashion world boomed too. Gia became incredibly rich incredibly fast. She became addicted to heroin. She spent all of her money. Made unsucessful attempts to clean up. Moved back in with her mother and worked in a department store. Spent some time homeless in New York. Then, in 1986 she died of AIDS related complications at 26 years old. 

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Gia Carangi was considered to be the first supermodel. She moved to NYC at 18, and was signed with Wilhelmina Models within months. She worked closely with “Willie” herself, played by Faye Dunaway in the 1998 film. In Gia’s 20/20 interview, which the film reenacts, she explains, “I started working with very good people, a lot of work, I mean all the time, very fast. I didn’t build into being a model. I just sort of became one.” Vogue described Gia’s career as “meteoric”. I think less of a meteor, and more of someone strapped to a time bomb. 

South Philly lilt and Gia’s difference, as not only incredibly beautiful but as an out lesbian (swagger) made the fashion world laud and book her presence as an individual. Her street attire, thrifted men’s clothing, motorcycle jackets and boots, helped create, but mostly popularize, “heroin chic”. This individualism is complicated though. Gia was not a rockstar. She was a model. Her look encapsulated a time period, and she reflected it, with cost. Gia rose with NYC out of the bankruptcy of the late seventies to the economic spike of the eighties. Capitalism exploded and people made more money than ever before. During the 1950’s, stars (like Ronald Reagan) were taxed 91%. From 1981 to 1986, the Reagan administration slashed the top income tax rate from 70% to 28%. The stock market ballooned 'til Black Monday. The fashion world boomed too. Gia became incredibly rich incredibly fast. She became addicted to heroin. She spent all of her money. Made unsucessful attempts to clean up. Moved back in with her mother and worked in a department store. Spent some time homeless in New York. Then, in 1986 she died of AIDS related complications at 26 years old. 

Outside of being a mirror to the early 80’s was Gia’s relationship with makeup artist, Linda.

Lesbian cartoonishness, a sweet refuge. “I will be king. And you will be queen,” says Gia. 

“She was like a puppy. Love me. Love me. Love Me,” says Linda.

Whether or not the real life Linda, Sandy Linter, loved the real life Gia, is much trickier. Interviews show her as colder, and Gia as much crazier. “Once her drug problem got out of hand, she funneled her anger into frightening macho behavior, jumping through a car windshield when she found a female lover with a male friend, and pulling a knife on anyone she thought had slighted her.” (NY TIMES, 1997) Heroin fueled dyke drama. For the sake of a pulling-on-your-heartstrings narrative Gia centers around this relationship, and makes blonde Linda into the girl next door. Hollywood makes love gentler. We all know. What only some of us know though–loving an addict is a very rough road. 

Gia's story, and the film, are intriguing because of their American mystique, and the America we gloss over (the AIDS Crisis is one example). We may watch these types of Hollywood renditions to escape, but it feels as if we are plummeting back into the 80’s these days, and dealing with the grave consequences of its set up. Remember, the NYC of the 80’s included Trump's rise too. 

As a critic, I'm not supposed to view a film through the lens of my pre-teen lust, or the lens of the real story that inspired the reenactment. But I can’t not. Taking this stand for Gia is, critically speaking, major dyke drama. But, however much of a failure Gia is, there are few stories told of women, and queer women, who died of AIDS, or suffered from AIDS in their community. The political and historic significance of this depiction makes Gia ascend what it could have been (a little morality tale) into something much more than my heartthrob.