On the occasion of the Rail’s fifteenth anniversary, we are pleased to introduce Verbatim, a new monthly page featuring selected primary sources preserved within small, independent archival repositories.
Artists need some idea of what members of their public bring to the encounter with their work. A conventional “canon” of “stuff most educated people have probably encountered most of,” is essential for art to work, because figures and grounds are complements.
Entering the main gallery of Sperone Westwater, the viewer is dwarfed by Red Gravity (2015), a stunning, two-story-high, circular red clay drawing filling the height and width of the main wall. A suspended glass balcony allows the viewer to see the top half, which enhances the work’s scale.
I’m supposed to be writing about archives for Charles Duncan. This will force me to revisit my dissertation on stuff. No, I have never written a dissertation on stuff, but I could.
As its title suggests, the subject of Charlene Spretnak’s most recent book is the long history of artists’ engagement with the spiritual dimension throughout the trajectory of modern art.
Future Days, David Stubbs’s excellent Krautrock compendium, confronts readers in the U.S. with two distinctly foreign qualities.
Film In Conversation
Chinese documentary filmmaker Zhao Liang is mostly associated with brave and heartwrenching cinema that illuminates marginal lives in China. The images of artists being unreasonably evicted as illegitimate residents (Farewell Yuanmingyuan (1995)), abusive border police violently torturing ordinary citizens (Crime and Punishment (2007)), and petitioners getting sent to mental institutions for simply confronting the government (Petition (2009)) stand in stark contrast to the Chinese mainstream media’s negligence and elimination of this social landscape.
Uche Nduka is a Nigerian-American poet, essayist, collagist. He is the author of 10 volumes of poetry of which the most recent are If Only The Night, eel on reef, Ijele, and Nine East. He presently lives in New York City and teaches at CUNY.
From the Publisher & Artistic Director
I remember watching Alfred Leslie’s Pull my Daisy in my sophomore year of college and wishing that, one day, I would live the life of an artist with friends like hisfellow artists, writers, poets, dancers, composers, even art dealers (Richard Bellamy, who appeared in the film, was beloved by many artists).
Editor's Messsage Guest Critic
Archives and their relationships to artists’ legacies are fascinatingly dense. “The archive” denotes both a theoretical construct and an actual collection of information types, be they physical or virtual. In the domain of the visual arts, archival collections had, until recently, largely been defined as conglomerations of documentation about works of art, their creators, and the contexts in which both are actualized.