:: Reviews archive ( click for articles pre-2006)

Twenty Pound Spectacle: Brett Bailey (Exhibit B) published 27/08/2014

Exhibit B is reminiscent of South Africa past and present. It opens up a space for thinking about cultural institutions in London and their relationship to histories of slavery, colonialism, and contemporary forms of racism.

Yvette Greslé on Exhibit B by Brett Bailey.

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Phantamasgoric Capitalism: Benjamin’s Arcades Today published 25/08/2014

Velocity runs through any consideration of capitalist development, from the carrier birds used to share information that Benjamin mentions were in use in the 19th century, to the edge provided by hyper-fast fibre optic cabling used for high-speed transactions (HSTs) in the current period. Further speed is added by the use of software algorithms for financial market decisions, eliminating time wasted on human hesitation and reflection. Conversely, in the sphere of consumption, time spent on purchase is reduced by the replacement of barter, arguably a social interaction. Whatever its purpose, to barter has a social dimension missing from, e.g., making an automated purchase in a supermarket.

In the first of a three part series examining the relevance of Walter Benjamin today, Jim Fearnley deliberates over the timeless Arcades Project.

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The Overhearing published 21/08/2014

While Eaves’ first three novels are centred around London and the West Country, this book is more diverse. Moving from the “Wardour and Soho Academy of English” to a swimming pool in Australia, from a rare book shop in Lewes to a gold-poor brook in Emory City, the narratives follow a trajectory that may at first glance look arbitrary, but has in fact been carefully planned. The voices you hear give the impression of having been selected with some degree of randomness — “a story worth telling”, the author says, can be found where you least expect it — but their arrangement is precise down to the last dropped aitch.

Anna Aslanyan on Will EavesThe Absent Therapist.

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After Revolution: A Review of Antoine Volodine’s Writers published

Like the fictitious novels penned by one of his writer-characters in the newly translated Writers, Volodine’s books consist of “dark scenes, oscillation between political and mystical spheres, biting humor, nested story lines, tangled interior worlds, portrayal of the drift towards madness or death.” And Volodine’s books present a further difficulty for summary: they belong to a fictional-yet-real literary movement named (by Volodine) “post-exoticism.”

Diana George on Antoine Volodine‘s Writers.

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Explanatory Models: The Migrant Poetry of Athena Farrokhzad and Yahya Hassan published 18/08/2014

It has been a long time since Western governments feared poets. Yet as antagonism toward immigrants grows all over Europe and extremist rhetoric merges disenchanted populism with outright racism, two immensely popular poetry collections – one Swedish and one Danish – have garnered significant controversy for their depictions of the immigrant experience, earning their authors the kind of publicity usually reserved for polemicists and politicians.

Agri Ismaïl on the migrant poetry of Athena Farrokhzad and Yahya Hassan.

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Outside in, inside out published 14/08/2014

Clark interposes a relationship between space and time (history) in Picasso’s work. His complex relationship to space is a physical manifestation of the time he lived in. The correlation between space and truth becomes concrete when very early on Clark casts Picasso as “Nietzsche’s painter”, one who painted the erosion of truth, who saw the movement beyond it yet still cleaved to its beguiling quest for certainty. Collapsing truth was, for Picasso, a collapse of physical, determinate space.

Daniel Fraser on TJ Clark’s Picasso and Truth.

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Peripateticism in Robert Walser published 12/08/2014

Robert Walser’s work is defined by the action of walking. A walk is an attempt to remain upright while continually moving forward. So is an essay. This essay proposes to take two large steps (made up of many smaller steps). It will attempt to define the concepts behind walking in Walser’s work, and then show the where and how of those concepts in several examples of Walser’s writing. It will attempt to remain upright. It will attempt to move forward. It may stride. It may tiptoe. It may circle back or zig-zag. It may even lose its balance. It will attempt to catch itself.

Shawn Huelle on peripateticism in Robert Walser.

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Two Billion Squatters published 10/08/2014

The death of modernism coincided with the rise of right-wing juntas in the region and neo-liberal economics across the world. McGuirk contests that architecture abandoned any concept of social purpose, opting to go along with the new orthodoxy that markets were the answer to every social and economic problem. Modernism was replaced by post-modernism. The architect became the starchitect. A galvanising philosophy was subsumed by “a culture of ¥€$, in which the architect and client mutually fulfilled each other’s wildest fantasies”. Squatters and slum dwellers would have to fight in the free market like everyone else. And yet, even in this intellectual waste land, branches can grow from stony rubbish.

John Houghton reviews Justin McGuirk‘s account of Latin America’s activist architects Radical Cities.

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blue collar solitude: a review of Mark SaFranko’s Dirty Work published 06/08/2014


Dirty Work is unlikely to be the novel to bring SaFranko the commercial success that has so far eluded him. In a just world, of course, things might be different. But justice is applied arbitrarily in the world, and when it succeeds, it is often by accident rather than by design. Still, in the unfamiliar, isolated, gilded technological landscape we find ourselves in at the start of the new millennium, where everybody is connected but where nobody connects, SaFranko teaches us to laugh, perhaps even cry. And that in itself is a kind of victory.

Chris Brownsword reviews Mark SaFranko‘s Dirty Work.

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A Critique of Roberta Smith’s Critique of James Franco’s New Film Stills published 05/08/2014

So why did Roberta Smith bother writing this so-called review? Tell us, Roberta Smith: because James Franco is famous and Pace Gallery is famous – and you want to stay famous which means backing Cindy Sherman because ie; one of her photographs just sold for over 3 million dollars – and the famous gallery gave the famous actor-director-writer-musician PhD candidate-teacher- Oscar host-um –Instagram fanatic, selfie-promoter-mostly someone excited about life as in it’s okay to dabble … in many things etc.

Bobbi Lurie critiques Roberta Smith’s scolding New York Times review of James Franco’s recent Pace Gallery exhibition, New Film Stills.

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