March 24, 2017

weekend links: Dana Schutz, drone art, Mayan hip-hop

Tauba AuerbachTauba Auerbach, Tetrachromat (2012). Photograph by Helene Toresdotter. Image courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York/Artsy.

The curators of this year’s Whitney Biennial sought to embrace the political; unsurprisingly, they now find themselves in the midst of controversy. Several artists have signed a letter requesting the destruction of Dana Schutz’s Open Casket, which depicts an image of the slain Emmett Till. Many find the work to be problematic, and this article explains some of the reasons why. [New Republic]

Matthew Israel’s new book The Big Picture: Contemporary Art in 10 Works by 10 Artists hopes to distill the last 20 years of art trends into one clear presentation. The list has all the names you’d expect—Olafur Eliasson, Ai Weiwei, Ryan Trecartin, Marina Abramović, Kara Walker—but with only 10, there’s plenty of room for discussion. [Artsy]

Catch up with Claudia Rankine as she discusses the current state of her New York-based project the Racial Imaginary Institute. [ArtForum]

Though not a new phenomenon, librarians are spearheading educational programs and new curriculum to combat the normalization of fake news. [VICE]

In 1917 Marcel Duchamp showcased his porcelain urinal—arguably, the most famous conceptual artwork. Now, 100 years later, with Nigel Gifford’s new edible drone, tech startup initiatives are perhaps creating the newest pieces of conceptual art. [The Atlantic]

Chuck Berry passed away last Saturday, and with that comes the realization that Elvis was unrightfully crowned the king of rock & roll. Here’s a rare look at Berry’s early start and his contribution to the genre. [Rolling Stone]

Balam Ajpu talks about using hip-hop to teach a new generation about Mayan traditions and on getting people to say sacred words instead of just “hello” and “party.” [Guernica]

—Katie Lauren Bruton and Sean Redmond

March 22, 2017

Things We Like: Bruja


Wendy C. Ortiz’s Bruja forms its own slippery shape and structure through a new genre: dreamoir. Coined by the author, this narrative format relates highly detailed dreams over the course of four years. It’s defined as “a literary adventure through the boundaries of memoir, where the self is viewed from a position anchored in the deepest recesses of the mind.” This sets the stage for a deep dive into the countless worlds contained within the author’s unconscious populated with recurring characters and fraught with danger, emotion, and hidden insights into an everyday life we as readers never see. Reality has no place in dreams, other than to form echoes of memories and feelings within them. Readers will get an idea of Ortiz’s life, but the delight lies in the gorgeous turns of phrase that project her dreams into dazzling imagery.

Over the months chronicled, prominent players and settings emerge. Ortiz travels to Olympia (or not-Olympia) time and time again to visit Michael. She bounds among tumultuous feelings regarding a relationship with S., who she nearly marries before deciding the idea is against her principles. Her mother intermittently walks in on her and her lovers, or doesn’t, instead becoming a looming threat of intrusion just outside the door of her childhood bedroom. Many interactions leave her loudly angry or quietly fuming, while others, often zeroing in on her interior life rather than other people, leave her exhilarated. She saves people from disaster (earthquakes, huge waves, sharks) or leaps into the sky. Cats often flood rooms, her own always difficult to find among the crowd.

Without context, the people Ortiz dreams of remain mysterious, given meaning only from what she feels about them or how she believes they feel about her. Instead of making the narrative confusing, this allows Ortiz as a protagonist within the cumulative dreams to become better defined, stronger, and more intriguing as the months fly by. Imagery as surreal as Alice in Wonderland crops up, as when she dreams of being a pallbearer in charge of organizing boxes containing a body, each gift-wrapped and the size of a watch box, marked with signifiers such as a number or the etching of a rose. These interludes, often shorter, create a whimsical haze around the rest of the dreams, which can feel like explorations of long-mulled over, difficult conversations. It’s clear the dreamer is working through troubles found in daylight hours, just as we all do. However, most can’t put achingly beautiful words to the puzzles in our heads like Ortiz can.

Reading Bruja offers an entirely new experience. It’s difficult to put down, even as the dreams jump swiftly from scene to scene and month to month. Amorphous as the format may seem, the ending, labeled “Now,” hits hard, and you’re left with the blooming feeling of a bruise, the kind you can’t help but worry at and think of the blow that marked you long after the color fades.

—Kimmy Whitmer

March 17, 2017

weekend links: women writers, the Whitney Biennial, Terrence Malick

Whitney BiennialInstallation view of work by Henry Taylor and Deana Lawson at the Whitney Biennial. Image courtesy W Magazine.

How should you react if your doctor tells you he hasn’t read a book written by a woman? A: Go to a new doctor, B: Recommend Anne Frank, or C: [Signature]

Speaking of brilliant female writers: In an excerpt from her soon-to-be-published essay collection Tell Me How It Ends, Valeria Luiselli offers no answers to the constant questions posed to immigrants coming to the U.S., instead stitching together individual stories to highlight a broader narrative. [Lit Hub]

We never get tired of looking at statistical analyses of fiction, and this one proves that the gendered use of language is a problem that goes beyond coverage of our most recent Presidential election. [The Wall Street Journal]

This week, an Italian activist group left 88 pounds of dog poop outside of an exhibition space as a demonstration against Damien Hirst’s shitty art (convenient pun, sure, but it’s appropriate). Don’t be surprised if this almost performative protest is more interesting than the artwork itself. [Hyperallergic]

The Whitney Biennial opens to the public today, and it has garnered positive reviews for its sharp political commentary. Here’s a look at the curatorial process and why it’s been described as “the biennial on the brink.” [W Magazine]

Russia is adding another link to the biennial circuit this year with the first annual Garage Triennial of Contemporary Art in Moscow. The event timely coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the Russian Revolution, and in a massive curatorial survey of artists, the triennial will feature underexposed contemporary works from all across the country. [artnet]

Kerry James Marshall’s exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago last fall won rave reviews, and now Los Angelenos will get a chance to enjoy his phenomenal paintings. Highly recommended. [The Guardian]

Afrobeat for many begins and ends with Fela Kuti, but a new collaboration between Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen and electronica pioneer Jeff Mills shows how the genre can move past its impressive origins and evolve into new sounds and styles. [FACT]

Terrence Malick’s new film Song by Song premiered last week at SXSW, where he made a rare appearance. Even without an interview, here is a surprisingly in-depth look at his life growing up in Texas and his involvement in the Austin film scene. [Texas Monthly]

We never expected Trump to be an arts patron, and based on his kitsch aristocratic aesthetic, he may have been weary to even see his hands near the arts. But with the proposed budget cuts to the already low-funded National Endowment for the Arts, his tiny hands are in there, scrapping for what’s left. Here’s a look at how these cuts will affect our communities. Call your reps. [The Atlantic]

—Katie Lauren Bruton and Sean Redmond

March 10, 2017

weekend links: International Women’s Day, the forgotten flâneuse, prison art and writing

Crys YinCrys Yin, Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go (2015). Image courtesy Hyperallergic.

International Women’s Day was March 8. In response, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of We Should All Be Feminists, argues that feminism should be the norm (because obviously). Then maybe we can admit that every day is women’s day. [The Guardian]

Singer-songwriter Laura Marling releases a new album today. Directed in a kind of “crass pop feminism way” and inspired by the first female psychologist, Lou Andreas-Salomé, and the story of write Rainer Marie Rilke, who was dressed as a girl until the age of eight, Semper Femina examines our relationship to masculinity and femininity. [Noisey]

If Charles Baudelaire is the ultimate flâneur, who is the picture of a flâneuse? Baudelaire in drag? In her new book Flâneuse: Women Walk the City, author Lauren Elkin gives us a look into the forgotten female flâneuses and argues for reclaiming and reshaping city spaces for women then and today. [The Atlantic]

These three short stories taken from the literary journal The Pen-City Writers—part of a creative writing project by inmates at John B. Connally Unit—give glimpses into life in a Texas prison. Deb Olin Unferth is one of our favorite writers here in Austin (her latest short story collection, Wait Till You See Me Dance, will be released by Graywolf later this month), and the work that she does with inmates is just further proof of how amazing she is as a writer and a person. [VICE]

Art programs in prison are not a new phenomena. Take a look at Camp Amache, a Japanese internment camp from World War II, and its silk screening shop and workers’ stories. [Atlas Obscura]

Crys Yin’s new exhibit at Amy Lin Projects in New York explores the alienation that Asian Americans feel in the face of persistent Orientalism, in the art world and in daily life. Amy Li is one of the only Chinese gallerists in the Chinatown area, and her gallery continues to show important work in the face of spreading gentrification. [Hyperallergic]

As we become more aware of the power of protest in our current political climate, these archived images of protests in NYC may remind us that our challenges are also historical ones. [artsy]

Issue 6 featured artist Kevin McNamee-Tweed is gearing up to leave Austin. Here is one last interview with him—we wish him all the best! For more on Kevin’s life and work, pick up a copy of Issue 6. [Austin Chronicle]

SXSW is descending upon our city, and we’re having some fun this year by throwing a pre-show on Monday, March 13. Join us in a cool backyard, away from the congestion and the chaos of the city center, as we listen to some great under-the-radar local acts and a couple of Chicago’s most exciting new bands (including editor Sarah Jane Quillin’s band Heavy Dreams). No wristbands required. [Facebook]

—Katie Lauren Bruton and Sean Redmond

March 10, 2017

fields x SXSW 2017

SXSW pre-show

SXSW is around the corner, and we’re skipping out on recommendations this year (although I recommend checking out Royal Trux at Hotel Vegas Thursday or Friday night – Sean). But we’re not forgoing the fun; in fact, we’re hosting our first-ever SXSW show, a few days before the official music portion kicks off. We’re proud to feature three local acts and two Chicago artists in an early show on Monday, March 13, at the house venue Clocktown, located at 1190 1/2 Ridge Drive. Lineup is as follows:

Fee Lion (Chicago)
witch disco

truffle punk

Heavy Dreams (Chicago)
garage pop

house band

desert psych

Mark your calendar and start your week off right with an eclectic showcase of rising artists from Austin and the Windy City. And did we mention that fields editor Sarah Jane Quillin plays in one of these bands? We’ll let you figure out which one.

For more information, visit the Facebook event page. Doors at 6, bands play at 7. We hope to see you there!

February 17, 2017

weekend links: Morgan Parker, Standing Fox, building bumper stickers

Ice FishersAn ice fisher in Astana, Kazakhstan. Photograph by Aleksey Kondratyev. Image courtesy of The Calvert Journal.

This week, we saw an arguable example of institutional racism at the Grammys when Beyoncé’s Lemonade was overlooked for Album of the Year. Take a closer look at institutional racism and white privilege in the context of the Grammys, and an ode to the beauty of Beyoncé’s album and her fight with the system. [NPR]

And speaking of Queen Bey, here’s an interview with Morgan Parker about her latest poetry collection, “There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé. [Nylon]

Detroit-based photographer Aleksey Kondratyev’s new photo series captures ice fishermen in Kazakhstan at work in -40 degree Celsius temperatures in their self-made plastic cocoons. [The Calvert Journal]

Standing Fox, photographer and Apache activist, discusses how producing art, documenting Apache culture, and preserving sacred lands at Oak Flat are all linked. [Hyperallergic]

Torrent Tea: Queer Space and Photographic Futures, a new exhibit in Portland, Oregon, showcases work that explores the role the Internet plays as an exhibition space for queer artists of color. [The Creators Project]

In his acceptance speech for the Truman Capote Award, Kevin Birmingham used the platform to shine a light on the failure of universities to pay adjunct humanities professors fair wages—a speech worth reading. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

While it was nice to see The Contemporary Austin unveil a new work dedicated to “Liberty and Justice for All” during the Women’s March in January, Ariel Evans points out the shallow nature of what she calls “a bumper sticker for a building.” Her insight is appreciated. [Conflict of Interest]

Katie Lauren Bruton and Sean Redmond

February 11, 2017

weekend links: RoboCop, Black Cowboy, The Conversational Lexicon

Black CowboyDeana Lawson, Cowboys (2014). Image courtesy the artist and Rhonda Hoffman Gallery/Hyperallergic.

Raoul Peck, the director of the new James Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro, discusses deconstructing the story of Haiti and the American myth and the importance of making a film that won’t be ignored by history. [Guernica]

When you think satire, RoboCop might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But its original dark, dystopian criticism has been lost in the decades since its release. As more of its predictions become reality, it’s worth revisiting as much for its insights as for its explosions. [Vulture]

Vandals caught tagging an historic schoolhouse with racist and anti-Semitic slurs have been handed an unsual punishment: a list of 35 books that they are required to read and report on, as well as a list of museums they must attend. If only we could force every racist Republican to read Ta-Nehisi Coates, Toni Morrison, and Colson Whitehead. [Electric Literature]

The exhibit Black Cowboy in Harlem seeks to reshape the cowboy as a historically and culturally white figure by reminding us of the omission of African-Americans in the iconization of the American cowboy. [Hyperallergic]

Part of a three-year effort to keep the store from closing, an Oslo-based bookstore has released a new edition of The Conversational Lexicon, a subjective encyclopedia “freed from the demand for factual accuracy.” Contributed to by writers and thinkers from around the world, the entries are often playful, if not truthful—the entry for “death” is five pages, while listed under “rock ’n’ roll” is just a picture of Lemmy from Mötorhead. [The Guardian]

MoMA is displaying works in their collection from artists from the seven countries whose citizens are barred from U.S. entry, along with a placard reading “This work is by an artist from a nation whose citizens are being denied entry into the United States… to affirm the ideals of welcome and freedom as vital to this Museum as they are to the United States.” It’s small, but it’s something. [The New York Times]

And kudos to Austin’s Margin Walker for standing up against racism by joining the boycott of Houston venue Fitzgerald’s. In our capitalist society, there’s no better way to show disapproval than through economic action. We stand with them. [Austin 360]

—Katie Lauren Bruton and Sean Redmond

February 3, 2017

weekend links: Black History Month, Dana Tai Soon Burgess, DJs in revolt

IslandA performance of Dana Tai Soon Burgess’s Island. Photography by Mary Noble Ours. Image courtesy Guernica

Released on the first day of Black History Month, Beyoncé mesmerized us with a pregnancy photo this week and the announcement that she’ll be having twins. Read about the artist and poet behind the immediately iconic photo and how it captures that “aesthetic aha” of familiarity and novelty. [The Atlantic]

Also just in time for Black History Month comes the release of the James Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro. Mandatory viewing. Catch a preview here. [Time]

Greenland is not known for its cultural exports, so Niviaq Korneliussen’s rise to fame has been a pleasurable surprise. The literary star talks about her American literary influences, growing up queer in Greenland, her Danish readership and her modest stardom on the island, where bestsellers only move a thousand copies. [The New Yorker]

Dana Tai Soon Burgess is one of few Asian-American choreographers who’ve received wide acclaim. Here, he talks about creating dances about the Asian-American experience, drawing inspiration from invertebrates, the misconception of a “lucky diversity card”, and more. [Guernica]

Here is an update on how writers and publishers are responding to the immigration ban, including a list of authors and publishers boycotting the U.S. and a few wise words from Colson Whitehead. [Electric Literature]

The history of literature is riddled with the frustrations of young men coming to terms with a world that fails to live up to their ideals. Pankaj Mishra’s Age of Anger examines these characters and looks at the cultural and political theories that have spawned and inspired them. [New Republic]

The Super Bowl is probably the last place you’d expect to find Margaret Atwood, but commercials for the new Atwood-inspired television series The Handmaid’s Tale will be airing during the big game. Keep an eye out. [Hollywood Reporter]

Electronic music may seem largely apolitical, but in Turkey and Iran, DJs and artists are defying censorship and authoritarian decrees in efforts to keep underground youth culture alive. We would be wise to take notes.

And in light of unconstitutional immigration orders that have been recently been decreed, it’s been heartening to see the number of artists and businesses offering proceeds of sales to the ACLU. Bandcamp is offering 100% of its sales today to the ACLU, and coffee shops all over the country are helping out this weekend. Purchase a subscription to fields between now and Sunday and we’ll do the same.

—Katie Lauren Bruton and Sean Redmond

January 27, 2017

weekend links: Simon & Schuster boycott, 1984, Ann Hamilton

Ann HamiltonAnn Hamilton, [John] (2017)

We’re late to the party, but Melville House’s Publishing During Wartime series is crucial reading when it comes to asking what role publishers are playing in disseminating hatred and legitimizing fascist voices. Some good news on this front: Roxane Gay has pulled out of her book contract with Simon & Schuster, due to the company’s contract to publish hate-peddler Milo Yiannopoulos’s book. We stand with Roxane, and will no longer be reviewing Simon & Schuster’s books. [Melville House]

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four has become the go-to book to explain our dystopian fears: It was a bestseller this week on Amazon (an autocratic system of its own). But Josephine Livingston argues it’s the wrong dystopian novel for our times—there’s not a shred of globalized capitalism or “alternative facts” in the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four. She offers an alternative novel instead. [New Republic]

Twenty years and $15 million dollars later, Christo is abandoning “Over the River”—a project to drape 42 miles of fabric over the Arkansas River. His decision is in reaction to the new administration: “I can’t do a work that benefits this landlord.” [The New York Times]

Part of a series of conversations on the subject of violence, poet Malcolm London talks about getting an education on the Number 66 Chicago Avenue bus, appropriating language while others are coding it, and how his art is informed by black queer feminism and its functionality. [Los Angeles Review of Books]

If you haven’t checked out francine j. harris’s play dead yet, you really should. Maybe this review will convince you, if our interview in issue 6 left you on the fence. [Boston Review]

The New York Review of Books examines two books that explore the history of profanity, its benefit in social contexts, and its waning taboo in the U.S. [New York Review of Books]

Ann Hamilton has created a new public artwork for the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. Her largest project to-date features portraits of 500 individuals taken around the city. O N E E V E R Y O N E visualizes touch as a medium and the role it plays in health care-patient relationships as well as photographer-subject relationships. Seventy-one of the portraits will hung around the medical school complex; others will be published alongside essays about health-care in a book, newspaper and online archive. [The Austin Chronicle]

And while we’d love for signs from Saturday’s Women’s March to stay in front of Trump Towers indefinitely, they are being collected and archived in museums and libraries across the U.S. (Texas folks: our signs still need a home!) [Huffington Post]

Bonus link: dogs love reggae. [Pitchfork]

Katie Lauren Bruton and Sean Redmond

January 20, 2017

weekend links: arts funding, Papo Colo, Wole Soyinka

Maria EichhornMaria Eichhorn, 5 weeks, 25 days, 175 hours (2016). Photo by Andy Keate, courtesy ARTnews/the artist and Chisenhale Gallery.

Reports surfaced this week that Trump is planning to eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. This represents just .02 percent of federal spending—a minuscule amount that indicates cultural clampdown more than fiscal prudence. We will not be deterred. [Washington Post]

Which is not to say that Trump hates art—like all fascists, he has his favorites. Puccini, for example—a composer whose music provided a backdrop for Mussolini’s reign. Not surprising, but is it better or worse than 3 Doors Down? [MTV]

As contemporary art’s voice in the political sphere is getting more attention, here’s a reflection on institutional critique in the art world, and how standard practices should be dismantled to move toward alternative and more socially engaged institutions. [ARTnews]

MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach talks about Papo Colo’s latest performance, Procesión-Migración—a procession along the route to the El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico, where Colo will remain for a year in silence. The performance reflects the country’s past and current waves of migration, the economic frailty of the island, and its status as a territory. [artsy]

Speaking of challenging art spaces, choreographer Monica Bill Barnes has created a “museum workout” in the Met. Alongside a mix of disco, Motown hits, and voiceovers, participants dance and jog through the galleries. But not everyone feels at ease about running around art… [The New Yorker]

Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka is fulfilling his promise to tear up his Green Card if Trump got elected. Soyinka’s act is in reaction to Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and vast number of followers, but he notes his “Wolexit” is a personal decision—“no one else is invited.” [The Atlantic]

Gearing up for the Women’s March on Washington, Fiona Apple has released a catchy chant for protesters this week. [The New York Times]

And Austin’s women musicians speak out against sexism in the punk scene. A powerful read. [Austin Chronicle]

—Katie Lauren Bruton and Sean Redmond

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