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Monday
Jul182016

Growing Up Modern-- Fitzcarraldo Editions' Prize

An early version of the book I'm working on GROWING UP MODERN made the shortlist for Fitzcarraldo Editions' Prize. This thrills me for a bunch of reasons. 1) Fitzcarraldo Editions is just out and out great. They are one of my favorite publishers. And if you're not reading their books you should. (They publish Svetlana Alexievich, Dan Fox and Eula Biss, while its publisher Jacques Testard is also one of the people behind the very excellent literary magazine The White Review). 2) It's an early version of my still-incomplete ms – and the competition is limited to British residents and I am a quasi-sometimes resident. And, the book is really American, about American ideologies – or the uses to which America has put modernism, neoliberalism, individualism while asking questions about morals in the wake of the isms of our age... Add to all this I'm very excited too about the winner and his project exploring faith, doubt and radical religious beliefs...

Monday
Jul182016

The Butterfly Effect

Sand from the Ice Age, Nelson Rockafeller, a dream of universal education, Pakistan's nuclear authority, Nabokov's endangered butterfly.... Oh, and modernism. Right now it all ties back to modernism to Edward Durell Stone's SUNY Albany campus. This is the "Butterfly Effect" where a university built on sand connects to the butterfly and Nabokov and to Pakistan and a dream of a better future. It's my essay for the University of Albany Art Museum's show Future Perfect and is also a publishing project to expose my research over time and get reshuffled into a longer essay that asks questions of us and our responsibilities at this time, and what happens when we give up hope for change. Or how to change, how to embrace change, how to embrace an idea that progress might be possible? Or is hope lost?

Find out more here and read the essay...

Friday
Jul012016

Sand Begets Glass

Sophia Al-Maria and I talk shopping malls, war, climate change and Gulf futurism for Frieze...

In the 1990s, Sophia Al-Maria exiled herself from American teenhood by choosing to live in her grandmother’s home in the Qatari capital, Doha. There, she had a front-row seat for the cataclysmic cultural and environmental changes unleashed on the Gulf by extraction industries, climate change and mobile technologies – the subjects that have become the focus of her work. The dark sides of technology and late capitalism are the thematic hallmarks of her films, installations and writings. She first discussed these issues in her essays on ‘Gulf futurism’ – a concept she initially articulated in 2007 – and in her memoir-as-novel The Girl Who Fell to Earth (2012). The fragmenting identities explored in her writing continue to inform her installations and film projects, while her unfinished feature film, the rape-revenge fantasy Beretta, looks at sexual violence in Egypt. Characterized by a pessimism she calls ‘doomy’, her work certainly has a dark seam running through it but, in conversation, Al-Maria reveals a lively sense of history and family, as well as a profound curiosity about the world. She talks, too, about her first US solo show, which opens in July at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Saturday
Mar122016

Views from a Height: Technologies of Surveillance from the Photographic Survey to the Predator Drone

Since I've moved to the Catskills, I've been obsessed with all the values invested in the landscape where I live. Once the stomping grounds for the Hudson River School, the area held the values for a new nation. Living here and looking at the landscapes, I wondered how those values manifested now and what the landscape might mean, what the very nature of vision that landscape could hold. The Los Angeles Review of Books is running my essay on drones and the American landscape tradition, from Kaaterskill Falls to the American West and Western Pakistan, via vision, the landscape, art...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec042015

"Beautifully crafted meditation..."

Yes, that is what the reviewer at Shiny New Books, said about my essay "The Rainmakers Flood." One of the editors of the British site Shiny New Books, also said other fine things like this: "But a brief outline of the plot of this essay doesn’t do it justice. It’s a charmingly interwined rope of connected ideas – snow, mud, rain, damage in its various forms, including war, the seductive beauty of science, the recalcitrant and yet unexpectedly fragile environment."

Click to read more ...