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Will Fenstermaker

Will Fenstermaker is a writer based in New York.

To Declare a New World

Few manifestos remain in the public consciousness for long. Fewer still have defined entire eras of art, and all of those were eventually challenged by later treatises. This cycle is one way to understand the history of art.

In Conversation

with Will Fenstermaker

Robert’s performances comment on or re-interpret iconic works of art—his commission for Performa 17, Imitation of Lives, was performed over a November weekend at Philip Johnson’s modernist masterpiece, Glass House, in New Canaan, Connecticut.

In Conversation

SETH PRICE with Will Fenstermaker

Talking with Seth Price can feel like circumscribing an amoeba. One is aware of protean boundaries, but also a rigid cell wall where certain issues attempt to broach.

In Conversation

MIRA SCHOR with Will Fenstermaker

The works in Mira Schor’s California Paintings: 1971–1973 were made during the artist’s time as a graduate student, at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where she was enrolled in the inaugural year of the Feminist Art Program.

In Conversation

Thomas Ruff with Will Fenstermaker

Aldous Huxley wrote eloquently about what is certainly a universal desire to transcend ordinary human experience—and which is also the compulsion driving both religious mysticism and im-age-making. In The Doors of Perception, first published in 1954, he relays his own experience with mescaline, the hallucinogenic alkaloid produced by peyote. Known as “the book that launched a thousand trips,” The Doors of Perception became a seminal text among Timothy Leary and the American hippies. Thomas Ruff’s new “” series is named after Huxley’s book, and the images of fractals folding back on themselves, tessellating into infinity, do superficially resemble the visual hallucinations that Huxley describes as well as the psychedelic art that became a mainstay of 1960s counterculture.

In Conversation

Lawrence Abu Hamdan with Will Fenstermaker

There’s a point about halfway through After SFX (2018) where Lawrence Abu Hamdan pauses his performance—he’s just relayed the story of Lebanese President Émile Lahoud’s security tackling a cameraman after mistaking the sound of a tripod for the sound of a pistol—and a low, screeching hum, like a buzzing bee or a car burning out in the distance, fills the auditorium.

Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today

There can never be a complete history of the internet because the internet is, to a degree, atemporal—like culture or consciousness, it either exists (in one form or another) or it does not. This places it fundamentally at odds with linear narratives.

Andrew LaMar Hopkins: Créolité

Isn’t power a drag? Isn’t it a show, a performance replete with costumes and character roles and play-acted identities? The artist Andrew LaMar Hopkins has mastered this strange dance between power, performance, and play.

When An Image Works, Words Don’t Need To

One way to measure the importance of Louise Lawler and her work is to look outside the Museum of Modern Art at what is showing concurrently in the city. A number of exhibitions extend the central question of the museum’s retrospective, Why Pictures Now.


Much has been penned about the twenty-five volatile years leading to Richard Gerstl’s death in early November 1908, when the young painter hanged and stabbed himself in the heart.

Hulda Guzmán: my flora, my fauna

Guzmán’s solo exhibition at Alexander Berggruen is her first in the United States since then, and it finds her turning, mostly, to views around her studio, where she was confined during COVID quarantine. It’s a breathtaking retreat. From the artist’s window, palm trees spread out over lush tropical hills.

My Pupil is an Anvil

Provosty’s paintings contain within them a kind of totality. You want to reach into them but hesitate—not because it’s forbidden, but for the same reason you pause before a door you knew to be closed but now stands before you open.

AARON FOWLER: Donkey Days, Donkey Nights, and Bigger Than Me

As an editor, I distrust superlatives, but here goes one that’s deserved: Aaron Fowler’s Donkey Days is the best solo gallery show I’ve seen in New York this year. Fowler’s assemblages are meticulous, intricate, and complexly layered, steeped with references and allusions—narrative, formal, and material—to art history, popular culture, and the artist’s own familial and personal experiences.

Animal Farm, curated by Sadie Laska

As a general principle, artist-curated exhibitions can be untidy and idiosyncratic in ways that museums and the market abhor, and this can make them interesting, disorienting, dissonant—even iconoclastic in the best instances.

Pierre Huyghe: UUmwelt

Many years from now, but surely fewer than one wants to think, those of us who survive ecological collapse and the technocratic reformation of the global economy will remember Pierre Huyghe (b. 1962, Paris).

Duke Riley: Welcome Back to Wasteland Fishing

Riley’s concept here is straightforward: he shows anglers how to up-cycle plastic waste into sport-fishing equipment. Part of what Riley illustrates is that fishing, like just about everything else, is dominated by capital. The lures are a pun; they nod to the fish that is fatally hooked to commercial desire.

Fiona Tan: Archive / Ruins

It is a masterpiece by an artist who has spent her career mining archives and probing their authority.

MERRILL WAGNER: Works from the 70s

What is often named an interest in “materialism” seems to be, in fact, a desire to uphold its natural link and allow the earth itself to reduce her paintings to a base state, a process she merely expedites.

Max Neumann: Specter

A few years ago, I found myself hunting in a bookstore for the last copy of Wolfgang Hilbig’s latest translation.

Why I Am Not a Tech Writer

Well, the truth is that I am. At least, I sometimes write about tech. I’m sorry I am, but it pays the bills. I’ve accepted that no one will ever pay me a month’s rent for a day spent looking at and writing about art.

Content Is King

The video of Robert Godwin Sr.’s slaying remained on Facebook for over two hours before it flagged as “offensive content” and taken down.

Bolaño in the Americas: Old Debates Demand New Language

On Friday, August 11, 2017, and throughout the subsequent weekend, Elle Reeve, a correspondent for VICE News Tonight, was embedded with an extremist cell that had traveled to North Carolina to attend the “Unite the Right” rally, which brought together the disparate alt-right confederacy.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2023

All Issues