New York City, Art Writing, & Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly, Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons)

Cy Twombly, Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons), 1993-5

Recently I had the chance to write about what first drew me to art writing. I describe the moment when contemporary art really hooked me–deep in my gut. For me, this moment became very tied with my move to New York City in 2006, when I had just graduated from college and was starting my adult life. Having moved back to the city last month, after a 3-year hiatus, I feel more than a little sentimental looking back. Living in this city is an education in itself, but I have an especial gratitude for all the art that I saw and learned about at through cultural institutions here. As I settle back in, that incredible access to culture remains as much as a draw and delight as ever.

But it all started many years ago, at the Tate Modern in London, with a series of paintings by American artist Cy Twombly:

There was a specific moment when I fell in love with contemporary art; I was 19, a prime age for falling in love, as I would discover, and on a study abroad program in England. One weekend, some other students and I visited London. Along with sites like Parliament and Big Ben, we visited the Tate Modern, not so much because it was an art museum as because it…Continue reading on Burnaway Magazine

Review on Burnaway: A “Cryptophonic” Sound Art Event

Sacred Harp singing by Jesse P. Karlsberg and Sacred Harp singers at "The Cryptophonic Tour" at Oakland Cemetery on May 2, presented by the collective Callosum.

Sacred Harp singing by Jesse P. Karlsberg and Sacred Harp singers at “The Cryptophonic Tour” at Oakland Cemetery on May 2.

“Imagine 11 graveside sound art installations, four musical performances, three graveside chats, one continuous Widow’s Walk performance, and five hours in which to see it all. This was the scene at Atlanta’s historic Oakland Cemetery on Saturday, May 2. A crowd of art lovers, babies and dogs in tow, came to see and hear “The Cyptophonic Tour” in the cemetery’s 48-acre “rural garden.” The event, which received funding from Idea Capital, was an audiophile’s dream orchestrated by the sound art group ROAMtransmissions, a project of Atlanta’s Callosum Collective. ROAMtransmissions curated the content and co-produced it with Arts at Oakland, a new annual arts day series at Oakland Cemetery, long a venue for historical tours and lectures—as well as burials.”

Using Oakland Cemetery’s archives and audio collected on the cemetery’s grounds as source material, ROAMtransmissions’ artists presented immersive performances and installations that recounted various narratives about Oakland’s occupants. Head over to Burnaway Magazine to read my review of this sound art event here.

Art and War: “Art is a most uncertain instrument”


“But there is hope that man may change, for two factors work on him that might disinfect him. One is art. These days have given us the chance to test the artistic process, and judge whether it is a tool that does honest work or whether is simply makes toys for the childish. […]

What is art? It is not decoration. It is the re-living of experience. The artist says ‘I will make that event happen again, altering its shape, which was disfigured by its contacts with other events, so that its true significance is revealed’; and his audiences says, ‘We will let that event happen again by looking at this man’s picture or house, listening to his music or reading his book.’ It must not be copied, it must be remembered, it must be lived again, passing through those parts of the mind which are actively engaged in life, which bleed when they are wounded and give forth the bland emulsions of joy, while at the same time it is being examined by those parts of the mind which stand apart from life. At the end of this process the roots of experience are traced; the alchemy by which they make a flower of joy or pain is, so far as is possible to our brutishness, detected. What is understood is mastered. If art could investigate all experiences then man would understand the whole of life, and could control his destiny. […]

But such deliverance will not come soon, for art is a most uncertain instrument.”

Rebecca West, writing in 1941 in the face of a next war [World War II] which bode to be more terrible than the last, in the Epilogue of her travelogue and history of the Balkans, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. (Plus a lively Interview with The Paris Review)

Nato Thompson of Creative Time brings a discussion of arts and the military into the present day with a look at the Iraq War and Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24. This new article for e-flux compares the tactics of General Petraeus now dominant to counter-insurgency efforts with community-based art, resulting in a strange meld of points-of-view.