Everybody Needs Wiggle Room
For three decades, in artworks and writing David Robbins has promoted a frank, unapologetic recognition of the contemporary overlap between the art and entertainment contexts. His work Talent (1986) is widely credited with announcing the age of the celebrity artist, and The Ice Cream Social (1993 - 2008), a multi-platform project which included a TV pilot for the Sundance Channel, a novella, installations, ceramics, and performance has been cited by Hans Ulrich Obrist as pioneering the "expanded exhibition." Progressively evolving away from the prevailing model of the professional contemporary artist, in his books High Entertainment (2009) and Concrete Comedy: An Alternative History of Twentieth-Century Comedy he identified and advanced other categories of imaginative endeavor. Among his six books are The Velvet Grind: Selected Essays, Interview, Satires 1983 - 2005 (2006) and The Camera Believes Everything (1988). Ten years ago he withdrew from active participation in the art world in order to discover how his imagination performed when not formatted to produce art, and began using the term "independent imagination" in place of "artist." Subsequently re-locating to Milwaukee he has aligned his work with contexts and formats historically foresaken by the avant garde, positing the suburb as a frontier for art production and creating TV commercials for galleries. His work is featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Most recently, his "Theme Song For An Exhibition," a ground-breaking experiment in digital distribution, was launched internationally, on the same day, by 11 art museums, including the Serpentine, London, and MOCA, Los Angeles.
By Daniel Gerwin
APRIL 2020 | Film
I arrived at Circus of Books without the slightest clue I was walking into LA queer history. The store has since closed, but a new documentary, Circus of Books, explores its 33-year life and the story of its unlikely proprietors, Karen and Barry Mason, a straight and straight-laced Jewish couple. The movies director is their daughter Rachel, a multi-disciplinary artist who made a previous film in 2013, The Lives of Hamilton Fish.
DEC 20-JAN 21 | Art Books
To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Brooklyn Rail, our editors and writers have selected our favorite art books from the past year. Many of the titles reflect a year spent mostly at home, often in isolation. What follows is a selection of what kept us company during this difficult year, kept us thinking and dreaming about art and language, and kept us rethinking what looking and reading can and should be.
By Carol Nisar
DEC 19-JAN 20 | Art Books
Amassed by the artist Hannah Darabi, this oversized photobook casts a broadly curated lens on the sociopolitical turmoil induced by Irans Islamic revolution through a look at the Tehrans underground publishing scene. Including personal recollections, first-hand accounts from publishers and photographers, and invaluable photographic documentation of the books and the city, Darabi and researcher Chowra Makaremi reconstruct this important moment in Irans history.
By Cam Cronin
NOV 2020 | Theater
Jonathan Hoover may have started his Instagram account @inappropriatepatti for kickswhen you have the singular ability to parrot Broadway legend Patti LuPone, why not share it with the internet? But a talent for mimicry, like his booming account, has evolved into something greater: a source for comedy in dark times, and more importantly the vehicle for raising funds for justice. Here, Cam Cronin dives into the person and persona of Jonathan Hoover and how artistry is inextricably tied to activism.