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Posted inBooks

Painter Illustrates the Diversity of Sex and Gender in the Natural World with a Children’s Book

The diversity of sex and gender in the animal kingdom is totally overlooked when people use the argument “it’s not natural” to say that someone’s lifestyle goes against their personal moral constructs. What’s “natural” is actually incredibly complex, considering we have hermaphrodite leopard slugs, female Western Gulls that pair up for the long term, and asexual reproduction in Komodo dragons.

Posted inArt

The Art of Middlebrow

When I first heard about Tilda Swinton’s “The Maybe,” an ongoing performance piece in which the actress sporadically sleeps in a glass box at the Museum of Modern Art, I sighed and shrugged and laughed a little. Another unoriginal work becomes a cultural flashpoint — cause for media outcry, cause for real, live spectacle, an unexciting performance sold to ticket-buying tourists as avant-garde. What can you do? But “The Maybe” wormed its way into my head, and I found myself confoundedly returning to it often. It was only a week or two later, and after reading Jason Farago’s takedown in The New Republic, that I realized why I cared: middlebrow.

Posted inArt

A Family Lives Out the Drama of the World

CHICAGO — Typical American movie moments of heightened tension use signal sounds in tandem with the emotions portrayed by the actors on screen. The family dog knocks over a precious antique plate, and an ominous tune rolls in to signify that the pup is about to get in trouble. Dad arrives home only to catch his adolescent daughter in the act — a sharp, shrill note strikes just as he opens the door to her bedroom. In the world of Guy Ben-Ner’s “Soundtrack” (2013), the opposite types of moments occur, representing a shift in the notions of a family “drama.”

Posted inArt

Finding Empathy in the Confines of Our Skin

Two billion cells make up the skin encasing our bodies, and 300 million of them are replaced every day. We need a sense of bodily integrity so much that if we lose a limb, we imagine it’s still there, itching and aching, and yet our skin, that exterior layer actually holding us together, is constantly dying off and renewing itself, sloughing off and repairing.

Posted inArt

Resurrecting the Modernist Legacy of Designer Eileen Gray

PARIS — Eileen Gray designed furniture that didn’t so much inhabit as space as touch lightly on it. With discreet forms and minimalist waves that contrasted their industrial materials to the waning of Art Nouveau, the Irish designer quietly influenced the modernism that would guide architecture and design beyond the 1920s and 30s. Yet while her contemporaries like Le Corbusier and Marcel Breuer have their names as cemented in modernist history as their sturdy designs, Gray’s legacy has been less studied.

Posted inArt

Making Documentaries More Real

In an email, a friend of mine mentioned a show taking place at the Kitchen next week: The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, created by the filmmaker Sam Green, with live music by indie rockers Yo La Tengo. The subject matter seemed like solid geeky/arty fare, but what stood out to me in the event description was the phrase “live documentary,” in quotes. Given the subject matter and the indie music, the first thing to come to mind when guessing what that might mean were the live, touring shows created in the past couple of years by the public radio programs RadioLab and This American Life. Then again, it was being presented at the Kitchen, a venue that has a history of presenting fairly aggressive work spanning visual, performance, and literary arts.