The Brooklyn Rail

The Brooklyn Rail Critical Perspectives on Art, Politics, and Culture The Brooklyn Rail, a monthly nonprofit journal, provides an independent forum for arts, culture, and politics throughout New York City and beyond.

We feature local reporting, art criticism, fiction, poetry, as well as coverage of politics, music, dance, film, and theater.

Operating as usual

Jonas Mekas: Filming Independence

Jonas Mekas, in his last book Transcript 04 44' 14" Lithuania and the Collapse of the USSR, retraces the tragic and courageous struggle that led the Lithuanian people to regain their independence from a personal perspective. The book originates from a movie by Mekas which is at the same time a precious historical document and an important piece of avant-garde cinema.

At tomorrow's New Social Environment, Francesco Urbano Ragazzi will moderate a discussion on re-filming history as subjective media archaeology with Kelly Taxter, Lukas Brasiskis, Avi Lubin, and Philippe-Alain Michaud.

Register for this event organized by the Lithuanian Culture, in collaboration with Humboldt Books and the Anthology Film Archives, and join us at 1 pm Eastern/10 am Pacific tomorrow:


We're gearing up for an all new week of The New Social Environment!

Tomorrow artist Mira Schor joins visual culture theorist Charlotte Kent in conversation.

Following our tradition of ending our conversations with a poem, we’re fortunate to have Rachel Blau DuPlessis closing out the event with a reading.

Register here:

We hope to see you in Zoom-land!


Actor Willem Dafoe and experimental theater director and playwright Robert Wilson (@bob___wilson) join host Charles Shafaieh (@charlesshafaieh) in conversation tomorrow for our 195th New Social Environment. Dafoe and Wilson are longtime stage collaborators and they'll discuss their work at the intersection of art, theater, and performance.

Poet polymath Annabel Lee will read to close the afternoon. Register here and tune in tomorrow at 1pm Eastern/10am Pacific for the conversation:


Painter John Walker (@johnwalkerpainter) joins us from South Bristol, Maine for our 64th Weekend Journal. Walker discusses what we're seeing in this visit from late last summer with Bill Jensen and Margrit Lewczuk, including the "visual explosion" Walker experience during the early days of the covid crisis and the slow pace of quiet reflection that settled in during the dog days of summer. Thank you for this tour John, it's a joy to see your works that August light.

John Walker (born 1939, Birmingham, England), resides and works in Boston, Massachusetts and in South Bristol, Maine. His work can be found in museum collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; The Guggenheim Museum, New York; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts. He has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in NY; The Phillips Collection in DC; The Tate Gallery, London; The Hayward Gallery in London; The Kunstverein, Hamburg; The Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia; and others. Walker represented England at the 1972 Venice Biennale and is currently Professor Emeritus of Art and former head of the graduate program in Painting and Sculpture at Boston University School of Visual Arts.

🎥 by Margrit Lewczuk
Many thanks to Kayla Mohammadi (@kaylamohammadi) for the production help


Ceramic artist and activist Stephanie H. Shih (@stephaniehshih) joins us from the 4'x4' corner of her bedroom-turned-studio for Weekend Journal #62 to talk about what it was like to move her practice in the middle of preparing for her solo show, Same Same @perrotinstore, as well as discussing her current series exploring nostalgia in Asian-American identity in a quasi-taxonomy of 1980s Chinatown grocery stores. Thank you for joining us Stephanie! 🥟🧡

Stephanie H. Shih is a Taiwanese American artist exploring concepts of home, not just as a physical place, but also as cultural, generational, and emotional spaces we inhabit. Her work has been shown at Perrotin Editions (New York, NY), the American Museum of Ceramic Arts (Pomona, CA), and Wieden+Kennedy (Portland, OR), and featured by NPR, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, and The Guardian. Activism is also central to Shih’s practice, and she’s used her art to raise nearly $40,000 for marginalized communities experiencing instability related to home—including people leaving Rikers Island (2020), indigenous tribes fighting for land rights (2019), undocumented immigrants detained by ICE (2018), and victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico (2017). She lives in Brooklyn.


Multidisciplinary artist Jesse Darling (@jessedarling) joins us from their studio and around Berlin for Weekend Journal #61. Darling talks through the shifts in their practice since lockdown started in March—away from object-making for collectors and institutions, towards cultivating community-engaged endeavors like mail art, kombucha, and forays into poetry. Thank you for this dispatch from Berlin Jesse! 💜 🪑☕️

Jesse Darling is an artist, living and working. They are currently based mainly in Berlin. #jessedarling


Artist Sheila Pepe (@pepestudionyc) delivers us a good chuckle in Weekend Journal #60, with a conceptual studio visit featuring the vocal stylings of Carlo Buti as well as the list of books she's reading and some very important perspective on where art fits into the cultural landscape + a lovely, windy sunset. Grazie mille Sheila 💛

Original video concept, footage and editing by Pepe. Music sung by Carlo Buti.

Sheila Pepe (b. 1959, Morristown, NJ) has longstanding connections to New England. She earned a BFA in Ceramics from Massachusetts College of Art + Design, Boston, and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. She was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, from 1997-1998. Pepe has also held teaching positions at many area institutions, including Rhode Island School of Design, Brandeis University, and Williams College. In 2015, Pepe was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from Massachusetts College of Art + Design. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. #SheilaPepe #CarloButi


Interdisciplinary artist Autumn Knight (@autkni) gives us some insight into her multi-faceted practice in Weekend Journal #59, showing her influences from Baldwin to Scarface (the rapper), from the history of African American humor to her friends. Thank you for this studio visit Autumn 🧡

Autumn Knight is New York based interdisciplinary artist working with performance, installation, video and text. Her work has been presented at various institutions including The Institute for Contemporary Art (VCU), Richmond, Virginia; Human Resources, Los Angeles; and Akademie der Kunste, Berlin, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art; Project Row Houses, Houston; Optica (Montreal, Canada); Krannert Art Museum and Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. Her performance and video work are held in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum in Harlem. Knight is the recipient of an Artadia Award, Art Matters Grant, and Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant. Knight participated in the 2019 Whitney Biennial as a performance and video artist. Knight recently completed an experimental residency with The Kitchen.


Gallerist Angela Westwater (of @speronewestwater) on the start of her longstanding relationship with legendary artist Bruce Nauman. The current exhibition of Bruce's latest works—continuing his exploration of bodies, work spaces, and technology—closes Saturday, November 7th @speronewestwater. #brucenauman #angelawestwater #speronewestwatergallery


Our new theater section editor Billy McEntee on why he stuck with the Rail as a writer and the inquisitive spirit of the publication that keeps him around as an editor. Thank you for these words Billy, happy to have you on board 💜

Until we can gather safely and celebrate the energy and ideas and connections that the Rail thrives on, we're asking our editors to tell us what it's like to helm a section, and why they stay.


Lisa Yuskavage recounting how looking at Philip Guston helped show her the way back into painting. The point she makes about humanizing, about implicating the complex ways that people may be privileged by evil actions and unjust systems is especially important today.

If you're one of the nearly 100 million people who voted early, thank you. If you haven't voted yet, today is the day. Think about who stands to lose the most in this election, vote for them, if not for yourself.

Lisa references an Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn quote from The Gulag Archipelago: “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

🎥 from a 2019 panel on Guston's late works @hauserwirth

#vote #vote2020 #lisayuskavage #philipguston @the_guston_foundation


A reminder from the Rail staff: please vote tomorrow!

This is one of the most important elections in our country's history. We all have our reasons for voting, but perhaps the most crucial one is to re-cement the legitimacy of the democracy. Participation gives us the grounds to hold the government accountable. The work will continue after November 3rd. #vote #vote2020


Artseen editor Ben Clifford discusses the community the Rail brought to his life as a PhD candidate, and how the Rail's vitality and "indefatigable spirit" continues on. Thank you Ben, we're happy to have your energy help drive us onwards.

Until we can gather safely and celebrate the energy and ideas and connections that the Rail thrives on, we're asking our editors to tell us what it's like to helm a section, and why they stay.


Fiction editor Will Chancellor (@willchance) weighs in on his work building solidarity with the international literary community and the inspiration he gets from the interdisciplinary nature of working at the Rail and interacting with editors from other sections. Thanks for these words Will, happy to have you on board.

Until we can gather safely and celebrate the energy and ideas and connections that the Rail thrives on, we're asking our editors to tell us what it's like to helm a section, and why they stay.

#WillChancellor #7arts


Vermont-based painter Richard Jacobs (@richardjacobs_) joins us from his studio in Vermont for the second part of our New England weekend. Jacobs shows the latest iterations of his print-involved paintings, some snow prints made during the spring lockdown, and gives us a sense of his collective-minded art philosophy, finishing with a recitation of W.S. Merwin. Thank you for this lovely visit Richard 💚

Richard Jacobs, a Cooper Union and Yale University MFA graduate, was a Henry Luce Scholar in Bali in 1987. His work is represented in private and public collections that include the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the deCordova Museum, the Rose Art Museum, Fidelity Investments, and the Hall Collection. Jacobs' recent paintings follow a transition from abstraction toward an exploration of figuration and portraiture, where he combines woodcut transfers to create a conglomerate of vibrant shapes and features that equivocate spatially. Jacobs solo shows include Bali Moon at the Hammond Museum, in North Salem, NY, Portraits at Ober Gallery, Kent CT, and Slowly Turning into You, at Geary Gallery in 2017, among others. Jacobs lives and works in Putney, Vermont. #richardjacobs #newenglandpainter #WayanSika


Maine-based painter Kayla Mohammadi (@kaylamohammadi) joins us from the Bristol schoolhouse that serves as her studio for Weekend Journal #53. Mohammadi kicks off a weekend of New England painting, giving us a look into her multi-media painting practice, grounded in the forms and colors that surround her, some of the various stages her works go through on their way to full realization, and a look at her unruly palette. Many thanks for this visit Kayla!

You can see more of Mohammadi's works @caldbeckgallery in Rockland and online @musacollective_boston.

Kayla Mohammadi, born in San Francisco, CA, lives and works in Boston and South Bristol, Maine. Mohammadi earned an MFA from Boston University in 2002 . Her awards include the American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Prize in 2014; the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Painters in 2008 and the Joan Mitchell Artist Residency in New Orleans; the Dedalus Foundation Award for the Vermont Studio School Fellowship in 2008; the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation Grant in 2006; the Blanche E. Colman Award in 2004; the Constantin Alajalov Scholarship; and the Vermont Studio School Fellowship in 2001. She has also lectured about her work at institutions including Rhode Island School of Design, University of Washington, and Dartmouth College. She is currently teaching Painting via zoom and in class at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Current exhibitions include Fall Group show at Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland, Maine; and Quiet/Disquiet at Musa Collective online exhibition.

🎥: Margrit Lewczuk 🙏🏼


Last few days to see Joanna Pousette-Dart's (@joannapousettedart) show Floating World, up through October 17th @locksgallery in Philadelphia.

Editor at Large Tom McGlynn (@tom_mcglynn) reviews the show in our October issue, writing, "There occurs in real time a resultant space in the gallery that wonderfully echoes such graphically virtual spaces in the artist’s paintings. And whereas the ambition of the “one shot” gestalt valued by such painters as Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis implies a will toward formal unity, Pousette-Dart offers shifting multiplicities in each of her paintings."

You can read the rest of McGlynn's historically-grounded review in our most recent issue, and see Pousette-Dart's works in the physical plane by making an appointment at Locks Gallery.

Video from Locks Gallery, excerpted by the Brooklyn Rail.
#JoannaPousetteDart #TomMcGlynn #LocksGallery #KennethNoland #MorrisLouis


Artists Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin deliver an actual video artwork to us this weekend with a drag rendition of Stephen Schwartz's Meadowlark as Ms. Frazzle and Mx. Dazzle in high YouTube style for this Weekend Journal #53.

Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin are Brooklyn-based artists. Bernstein and Rubin’s multifaceted approach to composition encompasses theater, film, poetry, and digital media. Often performing as fictional, anachronous personae, they employ the elasticity of theatricality in moments of tenuous changeover and transition. Their work together has been presented at MOCA Los Angeles, Issue Project Room, Anthology Film Archives, the Drawing Center, Reena Spaulings Fine Arts, Pilar Corrias Gallery, Artists Space, David Lewis Gallery, the Kitchen, LUMA Westbau, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. #gaberubin #felixbernstein


Legendary New York artist Dorothea Rockburne joins us from her SoHo loft for a tour around the historic space, talking about her recent work with knot theory—an idea that has been percolating since her time at Black Mountain College—and the way her work fits into her cosmology, in Weekend Journal #52. Many thanks for this gorgeous visit Dorothea!

Dorothea Rockburne was born in 1932 in Montreal, where she studied art and philosophy before attending Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina, from 1950 to 1954. After moving to New York City in 1954, she became involved with the nascent Judson Dance Theater, and later participated in Carolee Schneemann’s Meat Joy (1964), among other notable performances. Her work has been featured in two solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1981 and 2013–14) and a major retrospective at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, New York (2011), which traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal. She was the 2020 recipient of the Guild Hall Prize. Her work is included in many museum collections worldwide including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the National Galleries in Washington DC. Rockburne resides in New York. #dorothearockburne


253 36th St, Fl Third, Ste C304
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“So far as the art scene is concerned, it is the murmur of the city in print.” - Robert Storr

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