Mark Dery is a cultural critic and essayist, based in New York. His latest book is the biography Born To Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Genius And Mysterious Life Of Edward Gorey, published by Little, Brown in 2018.
Smell that? Its the smell of Deep Time. Not in the scientific sense of the fathomless vastness of geological time, but in the mythic, plumed-serpent, under-the-jaguar-sun sense. The Mexican sense.
Camp: Notes on Fashion cant seem to make up its mind about what Camp is. The wall text that opens the exhibition puts us on notice: This exhibition might raise more questions than it answers: Is camp gay? Is camp political? And, ultimately, What is camp?
Crepuscule with Bowie, I thought, not quite groping my way through the perpetual twilight of David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum. The 400 artifacts in this blockbuster show—costumes (stage and offstage, because when wasn’t Bowie onstage?), handwritten lyrics, record-cover art, stage-set designs and maquettes, personal effects (including, fabulously, the Great Man’s coke spoon from the dissolute mid-seventies)—are displayed in vitrines or mounted on stagelike platforms and spotlit.
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Flattered as I was to be invited onto the dais for this special installment of the Brooklyn Rail, I was, to be frank, a little unsettled by the thesis statement.