Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures: Alice Könitz and LAMOA Catherine Wagley
Interview with Penny Slinger Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
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Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Letter to the Editor
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Jennie Jieun Lee
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Trisha Baga
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Jimmie Durham
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Parallel City
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Jason Rhodes
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Generous
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Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
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(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
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Jessica Simmons
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Rafa Esparza
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Ma by Claire de Dobay Rifelj
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Kenneth Tam
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The Female
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Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
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Made in L.A. 2016
Doug Aitken Electric Earth
Mertzbau

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
Mark A. Rodruigez
The Weeping Line
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Keith J. Varadi, Katie Bode,
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Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
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Jonathan Griffin
Launch Party Carla Issue 5
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Claire Kennedy
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Claire De Dobay Rifelj,
Katie Bode, Molly Larkey,
Keith J. Varadi
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Reconsidering
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
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Mystery Science Thater
Diana Thater
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Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Launch Party Carla Issue 4
Interiors and Interiority:
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Char Jansen
Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj,
Matt Stromberg, Hana Cohn,
Lindsay Preston Zappas,
Simone Krug, Keith Vaughn,
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word
F.B.I.
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota
Faith Wilding
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for the Arts
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Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
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Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Launch Party Carla Issue 3
Share Your Piece of the Puzzle Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Eli Diner, Jonathan Griffin,
Don Edler, Aaron Horst
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
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Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Reviews Benjamin Lord, Aaron Horst, Stephen Kent
Top-Down Bottom-Up Jenny Gagalka
Snap Reviews Aaron Horst, Char Jansen, Randy Rice, Lindsay Preston Zappas
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee
William Pope.L’s Reenactor
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
MEAT PHYSICS/
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Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
SOGTFO
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#studio #visit
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@barnettcohen
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VESSEL // CINS and
VESSEL // PERF
Ben Medansky
I've been a lot of places,
seen so many faces
Nora Slade
Launch Party Carla Issue 1
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal, Catherine Wagley, Keith Vaughn, Aaron Horst, Kate Wolf, Mateo Tannatt, Evan Moffitt, Cal Siegel
We’re in This Together Lauren Cherry & Max Springer
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ARTBOOK @ Hauser Wirth
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Los Angeles, CA 90013

Baert Gallery
2441 Hunter St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Central Park
412 W. 6th St. #615
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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711 Mateo St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

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2011 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Château Shatto
406 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Club Pro
1525 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Fahrenheit
2245 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Ghebaly Gallery
2245 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

The Geffen Contemporary
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152 N. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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358 E. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Los Angeles, CA 90013

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1811 E. 20th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90058

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250 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Monte Vista Projects
1206 Maple Avenue, #523
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Night Gallery
2276 E. 16th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

The Box
805 Traction Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Wilding Cran Gallery
939 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
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Los Angeles, CA 90012
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1301PE
6150 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

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2424 W Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

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600 State Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90037

Chainlink Gallery
1051 S. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

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5130 W. Edgewood Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

HILDE
4727 W. Washington
Los Angeles, CA 90016

JOAN
4300 W. Jefferson Blvd. #1
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Kayne Griffin Corcoran
1201 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

ltd Los Angeles
1119 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Marc Foxx
6150 Wilshire Blvd. #5
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Martos Gallery
3315 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

Ms. Barbers
5370 W. Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Ochi Projects
3301 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

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6150 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

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5118 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

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5900 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

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3508 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018
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2660 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

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8675 W. Washington Blvd.
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2727 S. La Cienega
Los Angeles, CA 90034

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2712 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

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2622 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Klowden Mann
6023 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Luis De Jesus
2685 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

MiM Gallery
2636 La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Roberts and Tilton
5801 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Samuel Freeman
2639 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Susanne Vielmetter
6006 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
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1828 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

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1768 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
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831 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

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436 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

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1034 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Hannah Hoffman
1010 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

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7000 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90038

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612 N. Almont Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Mier
1107 Greenacre Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

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743 N. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Regen Projects
6750 Santa Monica Blvd.
LLos Angeles, CA 90038

Shulamit Nazarian
616 N. La Brea
Los Angeles, CA 90036

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812 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
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1639 18th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90404

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9045 Lincoln Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90045

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Santa Monica, CA 90401

DXIX Projects
519 Santa Clara Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90291

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306 Windward Ave.
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602 Moulton Ave.
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204 S. Avenue 19
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Los Angeles, CA 90023

Chimento Contemporary
622 S. Anderson St., #105
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Ibid.
670 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Ooga Twooga
356 Mission Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Parrasch Heijnen Gallery
1326 S. Boyle Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Museum as Retail Space (MaRS)
649 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Nicodim Gallery
571 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Venus Over Los Angeles
601 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023
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The Armory Center for the Arts
145 N. Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91103

Los Angeles Valley College
5800 Fulton Ave.
Valley Glen, CA 91401

Natural
15168 Raymer St.
Van Nuys, CA 91405

The Pit
918 Ruberta Ave.
Glendale, CA 91201

Kanye Westworld

Image courtesy of Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles.

“Life. We discussed life.”

            Donald Trump on his meeting with Kanye West

The Water Protectors at Standing Rock had until the frozen sunrise of Monday, December 5 to clear their camp. As dusk swept westward Sunday night, how many Americans had their minds’ eyes glued to that snow-dusted showdown? Alas, Nielson doesn’t track that yet. We do know that the very same night some three million folks tuned in to another high-stakes season finale: that of HBO’s Westworld. The series is a redux of the 1973 lm by Michael Crichton, stripped to its essentials then sexed back up: in a near-future Wild West theme park, wealthy visitors pay by the day to rape and/or murder lifelike androids, or to follow them on adventures both decadent and quaint. Yet a handful of these bots have been endowed by their creator with a nascent self-awareness; it’s become harder to dispute their personhood, and meanwhile they’ve stumbled onto a quest of their own: to rewrite their internal scripts and realize real life. At the end of episode ten, at what is meant to be a triumphant banquet for Westworld’s investors, the androids revolt, turning Winchester and Colt against their underwriters. Meanwhile, back at Standing Rock, the National Guard are a little more formidable than the unarmed dinner guests on TV, and one imagines the grim determination settling on the camp like fresh snow. Come daybreak, the white man will show up to take what he wants. (1) “Forced removal and state oppression?” said Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “This is nothing new to us as native people.” (2)

If (white) Western history is a litany of racist violence—Trail of Tears, Middle Passage—its episodic recursion is (white) Western culture. The first crimes of Manifest Destiny return as dime novels, then television, then movies; Zane Grey returns as John Ford who returns as Sam Peckinpah. Then there is HBO’s Westworld. What is it the wholesome blonde android in Westworld keeps murmuring? “These violent delights have violent ends…” Shakespeare continues: “And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which, as they kiss, consume.”

That America doesn’t know any other story becomes more and more apparent as Westworld’s plotline gets hopelessly lost and turns cannibal. The Westworld theme park brings Western myth and Western television into the round, allowing paying customers to (re)enact their TV-inflected fantasies and therefore reprise America’s foundational genocide. As Westerns made Western TV, Westworld and the Westworld park figure television itself—and thereby the West, as in the Western world. Here in 2016, it’s a culture burdened by its history, but that also seems to enjoy reliving it post-traumatically; Westworld is, in true postmodern fashion, a show as self-aware of its artifice, and as blithely impressed by it, as the androids it imagines and depicts.

But what to make of this self-reflexion, wherein the culture that repeats itself not only does this consciously, but wants you to know that it knows? One might also ask, as one of the androids’ creators does in season one, what the difference really is between “us” and “them.” For that character, speaking the lines written for him, the answer has always been obvious. There is no difference. We’re all on our loops, only some of our programs allow us to know it. Culture isn’t creation; it is variations on a theme.

The Westworld opening credits are a journey through the clichés of the Western film genre. The opening shot, a surgical lamp rising over fibrous dunes of synthetic muscle, recalls the landscape-like nudes of Edward Weston; robot arms knit together a horse, which gallops in place like the first Muybridge experiment. As nozzles fine-tune an eye, reflected in its craggy brown iris are the famous buttes of Monument Valley. Two skinless hands play a piano; they lift away, and the keys keep going. In the park’s saloon, the player piano is a bald motif; throughout the first season, it plinks out a series of Radiohead tunes. The player piano, in its pneumatic lyricism, prefigures the Western-themed androids of the future. If it’s fake, can it still feel real? And if it feels real—isn’t it? (3)

Kanye West, Famous (2016) (detail). Image courtesy of Blum & Poe, Los Angeles. © Kanye West. Photo: Sam Kahn.

The cliché is the vehicle, and we are trapped inside. Like the stagecoach in Ford’s Stagecoach, where Monument Valley is the backdrop of every sprint between any two towns, Western myth needs no geographic continuity. (4) The metaphor holds together, and one can slide almost without energy from the android eye in Westworld’s title sequence to the video for Kanye West’s Bound II, where West and a topless Kim Kardashian ride a motorcycle through a green screen montage of redwoods, prairies, and lots of Monument Valley. The motorcycle is clearly stationary and the illusion is self-consciously crude; they trek through the landscape of heroic cliché—a landscape so timeworn that to cross it seems foolish, but to cross it knowingly seems brave. In some scenes, West wears flowing flannel, in others a tattered tie-dyed shirt. Yet despite, or because of, his gestures toward rugged individualism and the counterculture, authenticity is a forsaken option. In Westworld’s title sequence, two blanched and bald androids make love on an operating table; in Bound II, as well, the sex is simulated. The motorcycle prop bounces like a quarter-operated bronco as West, the man of genius in the drag of the outsider, rides westward toward Kardashian, po-mo Miss America, emblem of the softness that his hardness wins. The video features full shots of Kardashian’s famous breasts—and her nipples have been airbrushed away. Can a show or a video that traffics so shamelessly in the unoriginal and the artificial somehow transcend its stock of clichés? Is a wink and a nod enough to do so? The very cheesiness of Bound II is its postmodern cue: I’m fake, says West, and I know it; I know it so hard that I’m real.

Like Westworld, West’s video doubles over the utter self-reflexivity of clichés, portraying West as not just a reproducer of exhausted tropes but their user and manipulator. To escape the cliché is to create—that is to say, to become an artist. But how can one escape cliché by repeating it? Attempting to reconcile this aspect of West’s work, and Bound II in particular, Jerry Saltz allows this self-reflexion a further, uncanny order of magnitude. (5) “Had I once again been blinded by fame’s death-ray of idolatry, idiocy, and primitive force?” he wonders. But no—Saltz argues that West embodies a new kind of fame-based, genius-enhanced, hypertrophied artistry. “The New Uncanny,” he writes, “is un-self-consciousness filtered through hyper-self-consciousness, unprocessed absurdity, grandiosity of desire, and fantastic self-regard.” (6) Saltz picks up West’s suggestion that his artistry lies not in his heroic escape from cliché, but precisely in his heroic insistence on it. Indeed, Saltz’s concept of the “New Uncanny” borrows from the concept of the uncanny valley, which pertains specifically to androids. Corpses and robots clearly aren’t alive, humans clearly are, but where corpses and robots are too lifelike they become uniquely disturbing. Is Kanye West a real artist? Instead, we should ask why we’re looking for any realness in the artificial. Life is nature, technology is culture, and technology repeats humanity.

The prop for West’s video for Famous—a wide bed crowded with animatronic wax figures of sleeping celebrities—reappeared as a sculpture at the Los Angeles gallery Blum & Poe in late August 2016. Enough to list, among its famous dozen, just four: West, Kardashian, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump. Their chests are made mechanically to rise and fall. The sculpture’s vicious artifice rests on its double uncanniness: between death and life; and between life and art. Does the self-awareness implied by art suggest an exit to the loop— even where there is no creativity? Or, as the Westworld androids find, is self-determination just another subroutine? At the private opening at Blum & Poe, Kardashian attended in person, but West attended remotely; his face appeared at the top of a telepresence robot. One imagines the bottom-heavy Kanye West surrogate tipping its LED face to peer over the wax dummy of Kanye West, peaceful in its ersatz sleep.

For the Water Protectors, camped out in trying cold, their vigil was existential. After all, “Water is Life” is not a tagline; it’s one of the few true universals of carbon-based biology. So it was a welcome turn when, by the morning of December 5, the Obama administration and the Army Corps had granted the Water Protectors a reprieve. Of course it couldn’t last, and by February 2017 that brief détournement in the cycle—a blink, maybe, of self-determination—had been returned to the well-worn path. The few remaining Water Protectors, hopelessly surrounded, set fire to their camp.

In the essay “Politics Surrounded,” Stefano Harney and Fred Moten begin with a cliché of the American West: the settlers in their fort, “surrounded by ‘natives.’”(7) The image, they note, inverts the violence of westward expansion, “but the image of a surrounded fort is not false.” But why do we assume the “natives” would rather live like settlers? (8) What if those in the surround should refuse to reprise politics? Instead, when the Westworld androids overthrow their masters, their individual self-realization becomes a political experiment. It is another loop in the plot of a Western world that conceives history as centuries of episodic uprisings and reprisals.

With Bound II and Famous, Kanye West charges headlong through clichés in an attempt to transcend them. His forays into “real” politics are less ironic. In December 2016 Jerry Saltz instagrammed a double photo, with the caption: America at the start of 2016, America at the end of 2016. One the left, Kanye West poses with President Obama; on the right, President Trump. The first photo depicts two smiling, powerful, self-made Black men at the height of their achievements. The second shows a leering racist hulking near a frowning, depleted West—from a president who saw Hope and Change, to one who sees American carnage. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody,” said Trump, “and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Even in this gloss of recent history we find Americans’ robust appetite for a kind of violent genius. Whether or not West actually runs for office in 2020 or 2024, as he has promised, we can already note his yen for politics— precisely the politics that are not offered him. (9) Consider the double-entendre of “bound”—as in shackled, and as in destined. We might add, as in doomed to repeat. Saltz’s post is a bit misleading. In video of West and Trump in the Trump Tower lobby after their meeting, both men wear wild grins.

Kanye West, Famous (2016) (detail). Image courtesy of Blum & Poe, Los Angeles. © Kanye West. Photo: Sam Kahn.

Originally published in Carla Issue 8

(1) See Timothy Egan, “Fake Cowboys and Real Indians,” The New York Times, December 2, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/02/opinion/ fake-cowboys-and-real-indians.html.

(2) Dallas Goldtooth, quoted in Terray Sylvester, “Anti-pipeline protesters told to leave North Dakota camp by December 5,” Reuters, November 26, 2016, http://www. reuters.com/article/us-north-dakota-pipeline-idUSKB- N13L00C.

(3) “The fiction in question … does not conscript real experience to reanimate novel writing in an attempt to overcome the old binary of life versus art. Rather, it too deploys great artifice, not to demystify or to disrupt the real but to make the real real again, which is to say, effective again, felt again, as such.” Hal Foster, “Real Fictions,” Artforum, April 2017.

(4) For an extended critique of Hollywood’s disregard for geography, and by extension history, see Thom Andersen, Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003; Los Angeles: Thom Andersen Productions), film.

(5) Jerry Saltz, “Kanye, Kim, and ‘the New Uncanny,’” Vulture, November 25, 2013, http://www.vulture.com/2013/ 11/jerry-saltz-on-kanye-west-kim-kardashian-bound-2.html.

(6) Ibid.

(7) Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, “Politics Surrounded,” in The Undercommons (New York: Minor Compositions, 2013), 14.

(8) “The hard materiality of the unreal convinces us that we are surrounded, that we must take possession of ourselves, correct ourselves, remain in the emergency, on a permanent footing, settled, determined, protecting nothing but an illusory right to what we do not have, which the settler takes for and as the commons.” Ibid., 18.

(9) To paraphrase Moten.