Even no. 2
We ask just one thing of you, art lovers: slow down! Issue no. 2 of Even, a new contemporary art magazine, takes a sustained look at an art world whose irregular orbit may lead to nausea—and encourages a more attentive, more deliberate global criticism as the best cure for aesthetic motion sickness.
Even is devoted to long-form criticism—serious, unconstrained, broad-minded, and not afraid to throw an uppercut if necessary. Issue no. 2 is out now in bookshops and museums worldwide and at our website, which we’ve just relaunched.
In our lead essay, the Indian author Kanishk Tharoor offers an unprecedented study of the world’s most contentious museum project: the Louvre Abu Dhabi, set to open in 2016 after years of delays and uproar. While the philistines of ISIS continue to smash the region’s patrimony, the Middle East will soon be home to the first-ever universal museum outside the west. Who is it for? Reaching all the way back to the 1790s—the decade that saw both the founding of the Louvre and the settlement of Abu Dhabi—Tharoor scrutinizes the aims and tactics of a museum that upends everything we think we know about art and democracy.
At Black Mountain College, the subject of a pair of exhibitions in Berlin and Boston, art school functioned like a laboratory. Today, it’s more like a factory: seven of the ten most expensive degrees in the U.S. are in arts subjects, and MFA programs are fueling a staggering student debt crisis. Sam Thorne, artistic director of Tate St. Ives and co-founder of Open School East, looks at how art study can be reimagined in a time when “art is more and more a form of loan repayment.”
I died a hundred times… Trained as an artist, the documentary filmmaker Asif Kapadia has fashioned the rise and fall of Amy Winehouse into a palimpsest of archaic media: home videos, camcorder candids, voicemails saved for years. For Moira Weigel, Winehouse’s momentary career and Kapadia’s remixed narration testify to “a life lived on the brink of the transformation that made everything digital—a sea change the music industry experienced first.”
Each of Even’s unique reviews is a manifold examination of places, tendencies, and ideas, taking in multiple exhibitions over eight whole pages. In issue no. 2, Marina Fokidis offers a downbeat but vital tour of contemporary Athens, an economic war zone where artists have nothing left to lose. Ahead of a unique Documenta, and with Alexis Tsipras recently returned to power, Fokidis introduces us to five young Greek artists working to discover “a somehow livable future. If one can still count on the future, that is.”
In Los Angeles, Travis Diehl examines the Getty’s recent blockbuster of Hellenistic bronzes: four dozen statues, some gloriously preserved under the sea and some traumatically busted, that stand at the origin of Western art history. He finds a dull reflection of the classical ideal in the sculpture of Rachel Harrison and Matthew Barney, totems of an age less modern than we think.
As Japan’s conservative government set out to amend the postwar constitution’s prohibition of war, Andrew Maerkle visited an extraordinary exhibition of Japanese war photography and propaganda on the Izu Peninsula. Seen alongside the Brechtian mêlées of video artist Meiro Koizumi and the Grand Guignol drama of filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto, the ideologically slippery photographs help us fathom how prime minister Shinzo Abe can mouth “Never again” at the Hiroshima peace memorial, but be more than happy to send Japan back to the battlefield.
How does an image age? In New York, Zoë Lescaze visits two exhibitions by paradigmatic photographers of the end of the last century: Sarah Charlesworth, a leading figure of the Pictures Generation, and Andreas Gursky, the man with the biggest printer in Düsseldorf. Only one endures well in the Instagram era.
The new issue features a pair of definitive interviews. We buckle down with Elizabeth Diller to discuss the vicissitudes of museum architecture—a place of self-improvement back in the day, now a backdrop for overlit selfies. What are the unique design challenges posed by a private museum in Los Angeles, a universal museum in Berkeley, a media institution in Rio de Janeiro—and, not least, the Museum of Modern Art itself?
We also meet with Polish artist Agnieszka Kurant to explore the shadow economy of real estate air rights, the copyrighted detritus on Hollywood’s cutting room floor, and Amazon’s digital serfdom.
Also, Phil Tinari, director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, encounters the apparatchiks of China’s censorship bureau, who were none too keen on William Kentridge‘s or David Diao‘s invocations of Russian abstraction. Philipp Ekardt gets into the tight white briefs of a Calvin Klein model, restyled by Collier Schorr. Iona Whittaker examines the ornery art of Robert Seydel, and the unlikely sorority—Marcel Duchamp, Grayson Perry, J.M. Coetzee—of male artists’ female alter egos.
The magazine’s portfolio is dedicated to the work of Cambodian artist Vandy Rattana, whose sober, precise photographs depict a history-scarred country in peace and sorrow. In his new video Monologue, recently seen at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, Vandy travels to the mass grave where his sister lies, while three women, hunched over like Millet’s Gleaners, sift through the parched rice straw. “I have to remind myself,” he apostrophizes, “that I am only dreaming.”
Even is edited by Jason Farago, published by Rebecca Ann Siegel, and designed by Common Name.
Subscriptions available here.