What’s Truly At Stake

Now comes a timely interview published by The Intercept between journalist Jon Schwartz and the novelist Suki Kim. Born in South Korea yet  having lived in the U.S. since the age 13, Kim spent much of 2011 teaching English to the children of North Korea’s elite, attending the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, an experience that became the subject matter for her remarkable 2014 book, “Without You There Is No Us.”

Below, two excerpts from the interview that we found particularly compelling, intercut with images from the work of Song Byeok.







Of Silence and the Flood

This week, we turn to an interview on Democracy Now: the voice of George Monbiot, who articulates a number of uncomfortable issues not addressed by the media storm surrounding hurricane Harvey’s itinerary over the past week.

Images are from 36.5, a “duration performance with the sea” conceived by Sarah Cameron Sunde.



From Sunde’s project website, we relay the following:

36.5 / a durational performance with the sea is a time-based project spanning seven years and six continents: New York-based artist Sarah Cameron Sunde stands in a tidal area for a full cycle, usually 12-13 hours, as water engulfs her body and then reveals it again. The public is invited to participate by joining Sarah in the water and by marking the passing hours from the shore. The project began in 2013 as a response to Hurricane Sandy’s impact on New York City and the parallel that Sunde saw in the the struggle for an artist to survive on a daily basis and the struggle of humanity to survive in the face of sea-level rise. The project was developed in Maine, Mexico and San Francisco 2013-2014, and launched on a global scale in The Netherlands in 2015. The fifth iteration was recently completed in Bangladesh. The performance is filmed from multiple perspectives and then translated into a multi-channel video installation that can communicate with a wider audience. 

Plans are underway for future iterations in New Zealand, Brazil, and Senegal, and working towards a large-scale iteration in New York City with an anticipated date of August 2020. 36.5 acknowledges the temporary nature of all things and considers our contemporary relationship to water, as individuals, in community, and as a civilization.


By Its Very Nature

Soil scientist Fred Magdoff is co-author of Creating an Ecological Society: Toward A Revolutionary Transformation. In a recent Truthout interview, Magdoff summarizes his critique of the entrenched notion that extractive capitalism mirrors and embodies “human nature”.

Images are from a 1982 project by Agnes Denes, Wheatfield, during which  a 2-acre wheat field was planted on a landfill in lower Manhattan, two blocks from Wall Street and the former World Trade Center, while facing the Statue of Liberty.



In her Artist Statement for the project, Denes wrote:

Planting and harvesting a field of wheat on land worth $4.5 billion created a powerful paradox. Wheatfield was a symbol, a universal concept; it represented food, energy, commerce, world trade, and economics. It referred to mismanagement, waste, world hunger and ecological concerns. It called attention to our misplaced priorities.

In Defense of The Commons

Economist Guy Standing’s 2011 book The Precariat described how the neo-liberal brand of globalization creates a new and ever-expanding class of highly insecure and marginalized populations including migrants, debt-ridden students, temp workers, “gig” workers and below-subsistence workers and farmers.

In 2014, Standing next articulated the social and political consequences of widespread precarity in a A Precariat Charte, setting forth a program for a radical revitalization of the social contract centered around collective rights of association, individual and community agency and protections for the global commons.

During a recent interview published on Truthout, Standing discusses the relationship between precarity and environmental degradation. Excerpts below, with images from Urs Fischer’s 2017 show at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, The Public and The Private.








Future Forest

Now comes artist Katie Paterson, who has planted a small forest in Norway. In 2114, that forest will supply paper for a special anthology of books. Between now and then, one writer per year will contribute a text; the accumulating anthology will be held in trust, unread and unpublished, until the year the forest transforms into manuscripts that will be presented in a specially designed room in the Oslo public library.

So far, Margaret Atwood (2014), David Mitchell (2015), and Sjón (2016) have contributed texts for the project. Below, excerpts from an interview with Paterson first published in Apollo.





As If Still Burning




—- Yasuhiko Shigemoto

Emergency Aesthetics

Now comes philosopher Santiago Zabala with a brief essay that resonates strongly with a major theme here at DP: “Turning to Art’s Demands”. The images are from Nele Azevedo’s ongoing series of “melting man” sculptures.


We look forward to Zabala’s forthcoming book, Why Only Art Can Save Us: Aesthetics and the Absence of Emergency (2017).


In the midst of political chaos inside a White House that increasingly resembles a Frat House for the Criminally Insane, we turn to the subtle depths of a passage from Fernando Pessoa in his masterful Book of Disquiet.

Images are from an artist book titled Seis Ventanas, by Ioulia Akhmadeeva.


And a brief excerpt from his Discontinuous Poems, in the voices of one of his alternative selves, Albert Caeiro:


Followed by one more image from Akhmadeeva, Reminiscencia:

Family Pictures

Now comes a montage of text and images from a project by artist Steve Locke, first exhibited in 2016 at the Gallery Kayafas  in Boston: “the Family Pictures we have long pretended did not exist.”











The exhibition included a Reading Room that included the following texts: