This text is based on notes I took at ACA Gallery’s Fall 2021 exhibition on the photographer Hugh Magnum. Not much is known about this image other than that it has suffered emulsion from decades of improper storage in a barn.
Hugh Magnum (1897-1922). Untitled 27, date unknown Archival pigment print 17 x 12.5 inches
Image courtesy of ACA Galleries and MB Abram Galleries
Two pairs of inquisitive eyes pierce through a dappled layer of blue and grey film, seemingly demanding answers from me. I’m not sure what they’re asking or what kind of answers they are expecting, but there is an urgent curiosity to their gaze that immediately arrests me, and also haunts me. I can’t shake a strange feeling of disorientation: the image feels old, spectral, but at the same time, the two sitters and their insistent eyes seem intractably present and contemporary.
There was no shortage of Docs in the line piling up outside Brighton Music Hall on Friday, December 10. A group of friends passed around a vape. Someone walked by wearing rare band merch, a custom blue long sleeve tour shirt. For a fan to obtain this shirt, they would have had to enter a special two-hundred-member group chat, join a vote to decide the shirt’s color, and obtain a password for Melt’s website. Though fans were excited, there was no jostling to get into the venue.
Melt’s first headliner tour began in October 2021 and had the band traveling up and down the East Coast, an activity the members are no stranger to. In the past few years, its members have attended colleges dispersed across the greater New England area. New York City influences much of the band’s songwriting — many band members consider it their hometown.
“When I think about people, I think about space, how much space a person takes up and how much use that person provides,” begins Joan is Okay by Weike Wang. Our narrator is Joan, a thirty-six-year-old Chinese-American whose life happily revolves around the New York City hospital ICU, where she works as a physician. But when her father dies unexpectedly from a stroke, and her mother returns to America from China to “become friends” with her children, and her brother and sister-in-law mount pressure on her to settle down in the suburbs and start a family, and the coronavirus pandemic shuts all life down, Joan is forced to question her workaholism and define her own cultural beliefs.
Binaries give structure and conflict to the story: Joan and her brother, work life and domestic life, America and China, present and past.
Strapped with an acoustic guitar, singer-songwriter-producer FINNEAS took the stage at the House of Blues on Friday, Nov. 19 following the release of his first studio album, “Optimist.” The last time FINNEAS was at this venue, he was accompanying his sister Billie Eilish; this time, he was ready to own the stage solo. As the singer revealed later that night, it would turn out to be the biggest show he's ever played.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, FINNEAS showed off his impressive stage presence in every song, dabbling in a range of stage personas that made for an exciting and raw performance.
From the moment the curtain lifted, the audience were immediately confronted with FINNEAS at center stage, channeling ‘70s rocker vibes in his flowy black shirt and bootcut slacks. The show capitalized on this center-surround stage design, which featured a three tiered level that separated Eric Forrest on the keyboard, bass, and guitars from Andrew Marshall on the drums.
Outside Lands took place over Halloweekend this year because of COVID. For some reason everyone decided to dress up as a cowboy, which made me want a cowboy hat more than ever. Did you know Stetson cowboy hats cost hundreds of dollars? Even the straw ones are like $150. I would really like a nice Western hat with a little chin strap. There were a few tents at the festival promoting the new Toyota Mirai, and one of them gave me a free Mirai bucket hat, but I would have rather had a cowboy hat. Anyway, here’s my day-by-day recap of Outside Lands.
Friday – Music
The first act I saw was The HU, a Mongolian metal band. They are pretty cool. They sing in Mongolian and play traditional Mongolian instruments.
Next, I checked out the beginning of Remi Wolf’s set, but I didn’t stick around because to be honest I don’t really like her songs.
Alexander Rosenberg is a Philadelphia-based multimedia artist, educator, and writer who specializes in the study of glass. Like many, I first encountered his work through Blown Away, a Netflix reality TV series about competitive glassblowing that has taken off during the pandemic. After reaching third place in the first season of Blown Away with his inventive, precise, and delicate pieces, Rosenberg came back for season two as a guest judge. I sat down with him over Zoom to discuss his background, interests, and experiences with both glass and reality TV.
Talia Blatt: Let’s start with some background for people who may not be as familiar with you and your work. When and how did you get into glassblowing?
Alexander Rosenberg: It was really kind of an accident.
The film Minari follows the first-generation Korean-American Yi family as they move from California to rural Arkansas in the 1980s. The semi-autobiographical work by director Lee Isaac Chung captures a moment of both transition and displacement in the Yi’s lives as they attempt, in the face of numerous challenges, to take root in Arkansas.
Minari comes to streaming services at a time of increasing violence towards Asian Americans. In the weeks preceding the publication of this review, a shooter in Atlanta, Georgia targeted and killed a group of Asian American women. In the past year, horrific and violent hate crimes targeting Asian Americans have soared, with Asian American advocacy groups estimating that over 3,700 attacks have occurred.
Minari is not a response to this. No single work could be expected to respond to the tangle of problems ranging from the hyper-sexualization of Asian American women to the erasure of Asian-American narratives.
The following conversation belongs to a series of interviews with Asian artists with international upbringings who have traveled across continents to share their art with audiences in both the East and the West, and sought to bridge the divide between identities and artforms. Their works have served as a powerful testament to Asian representation across the world.
Myself a Korean-Canadian, I sit down with these artists to ask about their lives as eager students and inspiring mentors, travelers finding their way around roadblocks, creators of art.
Violinist Sarah Chang has long astounded audiences around the world with her now-signature Romantic flair, technical precision, and full-arm bow flourishes. At the age of six, Chang started lessons at the Juilliard School, from when the title of ‘child prodigy’ followed her to her debut with the New York Philharmonic at age eight and her first album recording, Debut, at age ten.
Graphic by Juliet Nwagu Ume-Ezeoke
If you had asked me earlier this year what I would bring with me on a deserted island, I most likely would’ve chosen a water filtration device, a machete, a flare gun, a tent—staples of survival to advance my chances of lasting through the chilly nights.
But now, my answer is different. Now I know what it is like to be moored on a deserted island, alone under the violent sun.
My island is not made of hard earth or sediment; it is soft and made of gray woven cotton. When I cast my gaze around me, no blue waves roll and thrash; my island and I are buoyed by layers of dirt and grass. On this island, I do not fear wild creatures in the night; in their place, I am pestered by persistent mosquitoes.
All around me, I see people running, kicking balls into goals, sitting in the sunshine, walking dogs.
As part of a recent slate of classwork, I read Joseph Beam’s 1991 Brother to Brother: Words from the Heart. Beam (1954-1988) was an African-American writer, poet, and activist who wrote extensively about the difficulties he faced being a Black gay man in America during the AIDS epidemic. In Brother to Brother, Beam discusses what it is like to be a Black gay man, and expresses the desire for a future where Black masculinity can be reconstructed to allow for Black men to share emotional intimacy and vulnerability with one another.
What interested me most about Beam’s work were his explorations of the erasure he felt in America as a Black gay man. I was particularly struck by the image of glass, which appears when Beam describes a man who stopped acknowledging him in public upon realizing Beam’s sexual identity:
“He no longer speaks, instead looks disdainfully through me as if I were glass.
The First Time
We are climbing up through the dense grassy underbrush. I am in shorts, and long blades keep scratching at my ankles like tiny reminders. I bat away bugs from my face and try to keep up with your infinitely long strides. You are in sneakers and you are unruffled. We climb up, and up, and up. I walk behind you, because I have never been where you are taking us. I am panting slightly, but I do not allow the air to make noise when it escapes my body. American Boys do not pant, so I must not either.
We arrive at a ladder, but it is blocked off. A cold vertical sheet of metal hides the bottom half of its many rungs. The message here is clear—do not proceed, do not keep climbing, do not grip the cold metal deterrent and use it to effortlessly hoist yourself up the ladder’s sides, do not lift your endlessly tall body above and beyond its rungs.
Moving through my childhood is noticeably different the second time around. Outside, summer is in full swing as usual: the Texas heat swells, cicadas emerge from the woods, wildflowers open their golden petals. At the same time, cities shut down, remaining under lockdown, and I am 22 and home again.
For millions of young adults, coronavirus has meant moving out of apartments and college dorms and retreating to hometowns to quarantine indefinitely. There, we’ve resumed lives we thought we’d outgrown.
This lull in time has proven disorienting. We have strict markers and phases in life. We believe time is linear. One period ends and another begins. Rarely, if ever, do we go back to a previous phase of life under normal circumstances. But now, suddenly, we find ourselves going in reverse.
Before the pandemic, I had grown used to independence.