Encore un effort on Lefebvre. My first go was nothing but objections. Round two started out with admiration but I soon found myself airing further criticism — almost against my will, because I finished this long and, yes, sometimes tedious work with real admiration. I began, let me remind you, by thinking how prescient Lefebvre was in seeing, as early as 1961, that “Information is increasing while direct contacts are in decline. Relations are becoming more numerous while their intensity and authenticity are diminishing,” and that the media “do not penetrate the everyday solely in terms of the viewer. They go looking for it at its source: personalized (but superficial) anecdotes, trivial incidents, familiar little family events. They set out from an implicit principle; ‘Everything, in other words, anything at all, can become interesting, even enthralling, provided that it is presented, i.e., present.’” This could have been written today, not fifty-five years ago. Reading Lefebvre, one repeatedly comes upon chapters that are so profound in their conception, so far-reaching in their implications that the alert reader thirstily searches for more of the same — and periodically finds it, for example, in analyses of the concepts of “making” and praxis; of symbol, image, and sign; of repetition and moments. “[A]mong moments,” he writes, “we may include love, play, rest, knowledge, etc. We cannot draw up a complete list of them, because there is nothing to prevent the invention of new moments”; they are constituted by choice; have a specific duration, persist in memory, have a content and a form, and become absolute. Especially important, for me, in his systematic explication of the distinction between things, objects, products, and works, which should be of enormous use to aesthetics in a time when art has claimed a closer relation to the everyday than ever before. And then there is his brilliant perception that “three goods enjoy a special role and a happy or unhappy privilege: sex, labour, and information” as “privileged” commodities, but that it is the last of these, information, that is “most deserving of the title of supreme commodity, commodity of commodities.” If those who believed that the so-called dematerialization of art would enable it to eschew commodity status had only been as clear-eyed as Lefebvre, they might have had second thoughts. How right he was, in 1981, to understand that, “Specifically as a product, information is just starting out” — keep an eye on your metadata — and to foresee a cult of transparency long before WikiLeaks. This is a book I will be returning to, albeit only in pieces, and hoping, along with its author (despite the pessimism that overtakes him by the time of his last reflections in 1981, which seem only more timely today) in the continuing possibility that everyday life might yet witness “a metamorphosis through action and works—hence through thought, poetry, love.”
The Tweet comparing an ominous screen capture from the Tucker Carlson Show to one of Holzer’s Truisms is being sold as an NFT to benefit crucial organizations in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.
Rapper Maykel “Osorbo” Pérez was sentenced to nine years.
Shows at the Hudson Valley’s Hessel Museum of Art feature artists Dara Birnbaum and Martine Syms, as well as new scholarship on Black melancholia as an artistic and critical practice.
On the day of the Supreme Court’s decision to undo 50 years of constitutional rights to abortion, artist Elana Mann’s “protest rattles” feel especially poignant and urgent.
This week, Title IX celebrates 50 years, the trouble with pronouns, a writer’s hilarious response to plagiarism allegations, and much more.
PLEASE SEND TO REAL LIFE: Ray Johnson Photographs reveals the “career in photography” that occupied the artist in the last three years of his life.
Since antiquity, women’s eyebrows have been sites of intense scrutiny, constantly shifting between trend cycles.
A landmark show of 30 artists at Jeffrey Deitch gallery in New York keeps the category of Asian figuration open-ended.
Contemporary Black-Indigenous women artists Rodslen Brown, Joelle Joyner, Moira Pernambuco, Paige Pettibon, Monica Rickert-Bolter, and Storme Webber are featured in this digital exhibition.
Hall makes no attempt to entice the viewer to begin looking and to look again, letting her methodical craft compel viewers to reflect upon their experience.
In Benglis’s latest works, the forces of gravity that defined her seminal poured latex and polyurethane pieces are traded for luminous bronzes.
A new project by Columbia’s Queer Students of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation explores queer histories that have been suppressed by gentrification and urban development.