Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
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Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
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
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
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
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
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hamzianpour & Kia
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Eyes Without
a Voice

Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto (2015) (video still). Image courtesy of the artist and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018.

Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face.

–John Updike

Barthes characterized Greta Garbo’s countenance in emblematic terms. For him “the face of Garbo reconciles two iconographic ages, it assures the passage from awe to charm.”1 This had less to do with any powers intrinsic to the harmony of her features than with her unique disposition in the history of film. Garbo’s career spanned both the silent and talking film eras, and in her face, moving as it does from the theatrical, over-articulated acting style necessitated by silent film to the subtle freedoms of idiosyncrasy afforded by talkies, we witness the stateliness of iconicity melt into the charm of particularity. In 1930, with nearly ten years of silent roles under her belt, audiences were finally treated to Garbo’s thick Swedish accent and low, throaty voice in the movie version of Eugene O’Niell’s Anna Christie. According to Hollywood apocrypha, moviegoers actually cheered upon hearing her first line: “Give me a whiskey.”

In this sense, the face of Garbo compresses a history of affect from antiquity to modernity, from the face as allegory for types and values, to the face as calling card of subjectivity. Berlin-based artist Julian Rosefeldt’s immersive film installation Manifesto (2015) takes a blender to this timeline. Thirteen movie-theater sized screens spread out across two rooms at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, simultaneously played 13 vignettes of Australian actress Cate Blanchett as various characters—each delineated as a labor or lifestyle archetype in the exhibition notes: “Teacher,” “Funeral Speaker,” “CEO at a private party,” etc. Already, the subjectivity of the actress is at odds with the types she inhabits, as she leverages her considerable talents to deliver lines lifted from over 50 different artist manifestos from across the 20th century. The face of Blanchett pushes through the faux dirt and fake beard of “Homeless Man,” screaming into a megaphone about the failures of capitalism (reciting text from the 1960 Situationist Manifesto), miming the larger tension of the cinematic installation as a whole. The slick production values of the films play with and against the content of the radical texts in uneven ways. A homeless man screaming about the “development of technology and the dissatisfaction of its possible uses in our senseless social life”2 is unnerving, confrontational. A poised international star dressed as “Homeless Man” doing the same is engrossing, impressive—the image denuded of its politics by the charms of its very representation. What’s a face to do?

I wonder if our iconographic age is too fractured, too duplicitous, to support a proper heir to the face of Garbo (and of course it’s a woman’s face—we haven’t come so far as to completely uncouple the female image from its stock-in-trade as allegory for whatever hegemonic principle needs tarting up for public consumption that week). It might be the pure mask of fictional character Lil Miquela, the CGI online influencer proving there’s no job a robot won’t steal, up to and including Instagram Thot. With a persona precision-engineered for an optimal mix of relatable and aspirational, the forever-19-year-old poses in a never-ending array of digitally rendered streetwear and luxury label clothing while espousing progressive politics.

I still see something exemplary in the heavy-lidded eyes of laconic indie film starlets, as both avatars of resignation and harbingers of the performative age I’ll tentatively call the Greenbergian deskilling of charisma. But those faces are the mood underneath the mood. Global entertainment culture, the kind aped by the aesthetics of Manifesto’s vignettes, is still in thrall to the charms of particularity, and contemporary starlets get their gravitas by disappearing into roles, by fighting off the mask of their own face. The early aughts blessed two icons of cinema for doing just that. Nicole Kidman took home the Oscar for Best Actress in 2003 for her role as the “homely” Virgina Woolf in The Hours, a year before Charlize Theron did same for playing a prostitute-turned-serial killer in Monster. Both actresses were heavily lauded for deigning to buck their own pulchritude with prosthetics and labored makeup routines. One breathy review all but credited the makeup itself for Kidman’s performance: “The key was a large prosthetic nose that rendered Kidman virtually unrecognizable…. It must have been liberating not to rely on her looks.”3 The thrill here is feeling how high the threshold is for rendering a star unrecognizable. Nothing solidifies glamour like a glamazon masquerading as a frump.

Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto (2015) (video still). Image courtesy of the artist and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018.

Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto (2015) (video still). Image courtesy of the artist and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018.

Rosefeldt’s background in architecture informs his film work. Interestingly, he resists the tendency to make characters of the settings. Each of the 13 vignettes in Manifesto was shot in Berlin, but, “There are no emblematic buildings that people know and recognize.”4

By flattening both the backgrounds and the characters into archetypes, Manifesto allows the architecture of Blanchett’s face to undermine the masks of hair and makeup production. The iconic library of Berlin’s Brandenburg University of Technology becomes a mere techy-looking backdrop for Blanchett’s Scientist to perform manifestos on Suprematism and Constructivism—there is no pretense to subjectivity for either the characters or the setting, and the wandering Western eye, yearning for identification, is filled with images of Cate, Cate, Cate…. The vignettes, overlapping as they do into a PT Anderson-ish Tower of Babel, are timed to end all at once with closeups of all the Blanchetts snapping into a chorus of robotic voices. And despite the eclecticism of her costumes—frumpy puppeteer! normie schoolteacher! chillsy dance choreographer!—the sheer size of her visage in the aggregate reinforces only itself. Each vignette feels deliberately set up as a battleground for the architecture of the actress’ features to tussle with the architecture of each site. The seamless, flattening effect of a cool medium like film is broken apart again and again by Blanchett continually bending the architecture of the text to the varied voices of her personas. As immersive and overwhelming as the installation is, there are moments of wit and even self-aware signs of critique in the interplay of the screens.

When Blanchett’s voice coos snippets from Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s 1909 The Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism about “the beauty of speed” over buttery panning shots of graphs, dark wooden desks, computer screens, and other trappings of the New York Stock Exchange, it’s clear how the Futurists planted the seed of their own obsolescence. Speed for its own sake is hard to swallow as an avant-garde ideal when it’s clear in hindsight how many of us get left behind when speed—and its attendant ideals of efficiency, unbridled growth, and frictionless transference of capital—is the only goal. It’s hard to locate the actionable poetics in a phrase like “the suffering of a man is of the same interest to us as the suffering of an electric lamp” when we are dealing with the fallout from giving corporations the same rights as humans. Plus, according to interwar avant-garde apocrypha, Marinetti was a mondo asshole.

There are lighter moments, like when Blanchett, cringingly styled as a punk, snarls into a microphone “who raised the question of sincerity?!” to a room of full of disinterested junkies. The line comes from Mexican poet Manuel Maples Arce’s 1921 A Strident Prescription, and there is no better example than punk of how radical movements become stylized postures before heading to their final deaths as fashion statements. The vignette depicting Blanchett with frizzed, sandy colored hair and coke-bottle glasses, saying grace over a family meal (the family played by her real life partner and their children), sets up a more lighthearted tension, as the prayer is actually snippets of Claes Oldenburg’s 1961 I am for an Art. With eyes closed and hands clasped, she dutifully recites “I am for Kool-art, 7-UP art, Pepsi-art, Sunshine art, 39 cents art, 15 cents art, Vatronol art, Dro-bomb art.” with a midwestern twang and the pitch-perfect cadence of a devout housewife outlining her blessings. It’s a lively enactment of Pop as riposte to spirituality in art, and the dig is finished off nicely when the camera pans off to reveal the family’s home stuffed with taxidermy. Seeded in all of these performances is the ongoing tension between the politics of representation and the optics of political action. I threw up a little bit in my mouth when I read the installation described as “a call to action” in the press release, as if being installed in an installation is anything but paralysis.

Manifesto was created in 2015, a banner year for mass shootings, police brutality, and refugee crises around the world. But it was also the same year the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, 195 countries came together to create the Paris Climate Accord, and fake news had yet to transition from kicky buzzword to political reality, characterized by a chief executive who seeks only to metastasize the poison of his charisma. Like capitalism, celebrity is solely interested in its own growth. Accelerationism as a 21st century movement wishes to witness the end of capitalism by speeding up its entropy, making the Futurist fetishization of clunky 20th century machinery feel rather quaint in retrospect (there does exist an Accelerationist Manifesto, conspicuously absent here).

It’s nothing short of chilling to leverage true Hollywood production value in service of high art, and the results are almost invariably apocalyptic. And if you suspect, as I do, that the roots of Modernism go all the way back to Caravaggio, painting his studio models with such acute particularity that they muddied up whatever message they were intended to impart as ciphers of biblical and historical morality, then the face, the modern mask of subjectivity, becomes a curious paradox. Blanchett’s tour de force performance is part of what flattens the politics of the manifestos, whose content here is but a platform for that performance (along, of course, with the overwhelming, multi-channel aspects of the work—making it even more curious that in 2017 the installation itself was flattened into a single channel film). And in 13 faces we witness the urgency of collective action melt into the magnetism of arrested attention.

Give me a whiskey.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 15.

Image courtesy of @lilmiquela.

Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto (2015) (video still). Image courtesy of the artist and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018.

Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto (2015) (installation view). Image courtesy of the artist and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018.

Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto (2015) (installation view). Image courtesy of the artist and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018.

Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto (2015) (video still). Image courtesy of the artist and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018.

Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto (2015) (video still). Image courtesy of the artist and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018.

Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto (2015) (video still). Image courtesy of the artist and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018.

  1. Roland Barthes, “The Face of Garbo,” in Mythologies (New York: Hill and Wang, 1957).
  2. Fabian Thompsett, retrieved from:
  3. R. Stein, “‘Hours’ of makeup for Kidman,” SF Gate, December 27, 2002,
  4. Gunseli Yalcinkaya, “Julian Rosefeldt celebrates “anti-architecture” in new movie Manifesto,” Dezeen, November 28, 2017,