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Critic Roland Barthes once praised the automobile as a symbol of its era in the same way that Gothic cathedrals were once icons of their own — the car, he meant, is an image of American liberty. But as anyone raised amid concrete sprawl knows, that independence has come at a crippling cost to our environment and health.
The photographer Patrick Gookin recently explored the psychological ramifications of car culture in a series called LA by Car, which the photographer has self-published as a book. The series was prompted by Gookin’s own hour-long commute to work after moving to Tinseltown in 2010. Trapped inside his car, he took note of the lonely figures he’d see navigating the uninspired terrain by foot. After surreptitiously photographing them for a while with his iPhone, he began restaging those scenes using actors and a 35 mm camera — a strange marriage of documentary and fiction.
The product of those dull drives has become a body of work that pays homage to Lee Friedlander’s America by Car while offering a distinct perspective. Here, the sunny hues of Southern California contrast with the silent, inhospitable landscape surrounding the vehicle. Los Angeles is a city built for cars, just as California and the United States are. Yet LA by Car is ultimately more about the person inside looking out — about the driver’s desire for human connection and the perceived impossibility of finding it. It’s a reminder that creating cities for cars and not people doesn’t just sterilize the landscape; it sterilizes us. Gookin offers a glimmer of hope, though: in his final image, the car door is open, and a young man walks toward the horizon, seemingly free.
Archeologists can now prove the Vikings made landfall in the Americas hundreds of years before Columbus reached the Bahamas.
This week, the National Gallery of Art finally acquired a major work by Faith Ringgold, the director of The Velvet Underground talks film, North America’s Hindu Nationalist problem, canceling legacy admissions, and more.
No Vacancy, curated by Jody Graf, will be on view from October 26 through November 8 at the school’s Kellen Gallery in New York City.
Sculptures of Oaxacan alebrijes, envisioned as guardians of the nation’s immigrant community, and catrinas, Day of the Dead skeletons, are now at Rockefeller Center.
“I am trying to keep the immediacy of my emotional experience while I’m painting.”
Art by Athena LaTocha, Wendy Red Star, Marianne Nicolson, Anita Fields, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith & Neal Ambrose-Smith, and more is on view through January 2022.
The intention behind the seemingly bizarre combination was, according to Attie, “to give visual form to the shared American and Brazilian reality of nationalistic divisions that defines our political present.”
Nowhere in the museums’ advertising blitzkrieg for the performance were we told to bring our wildfire-season masks as well as our covid masks, and covid masks don’t prevent smoke inhalation.