Like her paintings, Remedios Varo’s writing is delicate and assiduously unhinged, both giddy with the possibilities of the impossible and curiously prim—outlandish, but just right. In Varo’s work, the clashing forces of magic and science deliquesce: witchcraft, chemistry, fairytales, anthropology, mathematical formulas, astronomy, Freudian psychoanalysis—all is grist for the imagination.
Tavia Nyong’o’s timely new book, Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life, opens with an introduction to the legendary New York City drag queen Crystal LaBeija. Nyong’o describes a scene from the 1968 documentary The Queen in which LaBeija expresses her frustration at the drag pageant’s judging systems, which favor her young white competitor. LaBeija engages in what Nyong’o terms “afro-fabulation;” she performs “for and against the camera” in order to undermine a system that “disparages the black femme glamour she finds beautiful in herself and others,” powerfully undermining the ways in which she is represented.
To take just the 72 pages of Stéphane Mallarmé’s Le Livre (originally posthumously published in French in 1957), at once fragmentary and yet feeling so completely itself, every time we encounter it, it seems a more astonishing piece of work.
From 1962 to 1964, Judson Memorial Church hosted a series of performances that challenged the conventions of dance. These “Concerts of Dance,” performed by a group of artists collectively known as Judson Dance Theater, centered on choreography that involved quotidian movements and simple prompts. Incorporating everyday objects and music, these interdisciplinary performances were imbued with a spirit of experimentation and collaboration.