Even Magazine

Issue 6: Spring 2017

Four years: an eternity or an instant? Though the unimaginable presidency of Donald J. Trump is still in its infancy, its consequences seem already permanent, our history forever tarnished, our values junked for good. But as Ma Yansong, one of Beijing’s most trenchant young architects, tells us in an interview, four years isn’t even long enough to build an apartment block, let alone a future. It’s all so unprecedented that neither apocalyptic predictions nor assurances of continuity seem entirely credible. What we know from art is this: the times mark you whether or not you desire it, and dreams of withdrawal are as foolish from the president’s foes as from his make-it-great-again nostalgists. Artist or autocrat, you cannot take a pause from history.

Our sixth issue of Even is an uncommonly American one. Down in Washington, Lauretta Charlton revisits the Smithsonian’s heralded museum of black history and culture, whose forward-dawning narrative seemed on point in September but soured two months later. Up in New York, Allison Hewitt Ward picks apart our assumptions about art’s political efficacy, and wonders why we seem most confident in culture when it fails to make an impact. The role of art in times of crisis is not a new question for us, of course, and there are foreign lessons for this age of American unexceptionalism. Even no. 6 also plunges us into thrumming, wildly expensive Luanda, where music is all about who you know: Angola’s hip-hop stars drink with oil ministers in beachfront clubs, and MCs who rap about nepotism end up behind bars. We Americans had long thought of kleptocracy as a foreign art. It has come home, and all of us had better study.

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In Occidente, a dreamy enjambment of Brazilian and Portuguese history by the artist ANA VAZ, grainy 16mm footage of surfers and Sunday lunches gives way to Google Street View renderings of Lisbon’s Praça do Comércio, the regal central square built after the famous 1755 earthquake. The Enlightenment ideals the square embodies are tied up with the colonial missions that embarked from its adjacent port — and in fleeting shots of china and porcelain, silver and furniture, the Old World’s commodities seem on the verge of crying out their foul play. More recently, in the sublimely assured Há Terra! (Land Ho!), Vaz’s camera races through the long grasses of the Brazilian backlands, where a young woman keeps evading view. It first recalls early ethnographic cinema, but here there is no privilege from being behind the camera. If this is indeed the Anthropocene, we are all both hunter and hunted.

Even, a new magazine about art, culture, and politics.

We’re tired of hearing about culture as opaque and unapproachable. Even positions art, music, architecture, and film within the context of the world’s biggest stories, from the current crisis in Brazil to the rise of Spotify and Uber. Our serious, at times irreverent writing bridges the misunderstood gap between culture and the world.

Even More

Jamaica Jamaica!
Philharmonie de Paris.
Opens April 4.

Wisdom is betta than silver and gold. One of the most intriguing exhibitions of the spring takes place at Jean Nouvel’s tectonic new concert hall, which hosts a full-scale history of Jamaican music from reggae to dancehall. Expect films, costumes, and posters from the Wailers, Louise Bennett, and Lee “Scratch” Perry, plus a booming sound system.

Documenta 14.
Athens and Kassel.
Opens April 8.

The unprecedented decision by curator Adam Szymczyk to deterritorialize Documenta — it will take place this year in Greece and Germany, on equal terms — is not just a bitter retort to the bureaucrats of Berlin, Frankfurt, and Brussels. It is, in its way, a reboot of Arnold Bode’s conception of the first Documenta as a civic enterprise, rooted in international calamity and committed to a better future.

Ian Cheng.
MoMA PS1, New York.
Opens April 9.

Like a deist God, Cheng (whom we interviewed in Even no. 4) creates worlds and then leaves them to their own devices. His first stateside solo presents the complete animated simulations of his Emissary trilogy, starring a Shiba Inu on a quest with no fixed outcome. Using video game software to simulate narratives that evolve on an infinite timescale into inestimable iterations, no one, including Cheng, knows how and what will happen.

Between Land and Sea: Artists of the Coenties Slip. Menil Collection, Houston. Opens April 14.

New York’s first artist lofts were not in SoHo but further south, in an alley of former sailmaking warehouses by South Street Seaport. While Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana, and the others never formed a singular aesthetic movement, you can’t miss their common influences — those shipbuilding artifacts, those prime views of the Brooklyn Bridge — and their influence on one another.