New York–based Nigerian artist Toyin Ojih Odutola often uses her creations—eclectic multimedia drawings and works on paper—to tell fictional stories that offer new ways of thinking about real-life issues. The pieces she created for her solo exhibition “A Countervailing Theory” currently on view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. through April 3, 2022, are possibly her most elaborate experimentation with form and narrative to date. (If you’re in town, we also recommend stopping by the Phillips Collection to view the exhibition “Intersections,” a new body of work by artist Sanford Biggers, who was the guest on Ep. 66 of our At a Distance podcast, on view through Jan. 9, 2022.) Commissioned by the Barbican Art Gallery in London, where it was presented from August 2020 until this past January, the show features 40 large-scale, monochromatic drawings that act as an engaging storyboard for an allegorical tale that considers the ways in which we engage with systems of power, culture, gender, and history.
Ojih Odutola does this by flipping the script in almost every way. The show chronicles a fictional, ancient Nigerian civilization where heterosexuality is forbidden, and where male laborers, known as the Koba, serve a ruling class of female warriors, called the Eshu. Alternately tranquil and violent, life in the realm plays out in the romantic (and ultimately tragic) relationship between the story’s central characters: Aldo, a male humanoid from the Koba working class, and Akanke, a female Eshu warrior. It all unfolds within a surreal landscape informed by the swirling rock formations of the Plateau State in central Nigeria. (The ornate scenery’s appearance is echoed in the way that Ojih Odutola, who is known for the detail she gives to the texture of her Black subjects’ skin, portrays markings on the bodies of her characters.) Even the artworks themselves take an inverse approach to their creation: The artist worked on black surfaces and drew on them with ivory-tone charcoal, pastel, and chalk.
Moving through the show, viewers will likely notice familiar power dynamics and hopeful signs of change. The drawing “To the Next Outpost” (2019), for example, depicts Aldo working in a field in the foreground, while Akanke, stylishly dressed, stands above him with her back turned, surveying the manicured land beyond. “An Understanding: A Lesson in Listening” (2020) shows Aldo speaking to Akanke—who listens intently—and in doing so, momentarily suspends the realm’s social hierarchy. Elsewhere, references to history (as in a panel that portrays the faces of Aldo and Akanke chiseled into a stone monument) and pop culture (as in a drawing in which Koba men are shown krumping, a style of hip-hop dance that involves rapid, exaggerated movements of the arms and legs) abound. To further bring the alternate existence to life, a cinematic soundscape by sound artist Peter Adjaye translates the drawings’ strange, spectral visual language into a sonic experience—including running water, throbbing electronics, classical strings, and West African instruments—that hums throughout the gallery walls.
Ojih Odutola presents each drawing as a scan of a stone tablet unearthed during an archeological dig—a way of encouraging viewers, perhaps, to approach the works as objects of curiosity and reflection. Her questions about who gets to tell stories about the world, and about the implications of power, may not be explicitly answered—but that’s not the point, as the conclusion of the show suggests. There, the wall text includes a note from a fictional Nigerian archaeologist, who supposedly discovered the exhibition’s contents. “We appreciate and welcome all those who are willing to engage in this fascinating discovery with us,” the text reads, “despite not knowing the full extent of its meaning.”
The jagged spine of the Rocky Mountains is too beautiful to mar. Yet over the years, developers and builders have manageBuckminster Fuller, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Eliot Noyes, and Eero Saarinen completed commissions in the Western United States, transforming it into a hub for architectural modRocky Mountain Modern: Contemporary Alpine Homes (Monacelli Press).
A recurring theme in design critic Alexandra Lange’s work is unpacking how—and for whom—objects and spaces are designed.The Dot-Com City, and surveyed how kids’ toys and physical environments impact their development in her 2018 book, The Design of Childhood. The ways in which outdoor public spaces, with their basketball courts, playgrounds, and skate parks, fail teen girls wa story she wrote for Bloomberg CityLab—one of many publications she has contributed to over the past two-plus decades.
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May’s colors, textures, and sense of renewal seem to be essential ingredients in Paris-based artist Alexandre Benjamin Navet’s exuberant work. A self-described “spring and summer boy,” his expressive drawings—often made in watercolor or oil pas
How do the generation of Black Americans who grew up in the past 25 years reckon with the tragedies that play out in theThe Trayvon Generation (Grand Central Publishing), poet, educator, and scholar Elizabeth Alexander—who currently serves as the president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the largest humanities philanthropy in the UnEp. 52 of our Time Sensitive podcast)—explores these questions, and others, by meditating on race, class, trauma, justice, and memory, and their influences
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Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs (one-of-a-kind digital assets created using blockchain technology), have divided the art woEp. 59 of our Time Sensitive podcast), see them as pathways to a promising future, while others express concern around the sky-high price points and carbon emissions they generate.
A sobering 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization laid out the striking impacts industrial animal agriculture has
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For most of the 20th century, breaking a sweat was seen as unladylike. Popular opinion considered working out dangerous
One afternoon in February of 1966, Stewart Brand took half a tab of LSD, sat on a rooftop in San Francisco’s North Beach
Eating ramen is a multisensory experience: the fragrant steam coming off of the broth, the slurping sound of enjoying thThe Art of the Ramen Bowl” (March 18–July 5) that’s on view at the Los Angeles location of Japan House, an initiative with additional hubs in Londonburi, the porcelain receptacles in which ramen is traditionally served, and renge, the compact, teardrop-shaped spoons that often accompany them, made by 30 leading artists, architects, and designers.
Anicka Yi’s intoxicatingly sensory installations don’t just surround the viewer—many of them literally permeate the body, their sEp. 14 of our At a Distance podcast), in which three industrial steel tanks saturate the air with an aroma concocted by fusing secretions from carpenter an
Integrative nutritionist Daphne Javitch helps people develop their versions of a healthy life—a potentially daunting tasDoing Well, Javitch, a former womenswear consultant at Theory and Uniqlo, offers private health and career coaching as well as groEp. 46 of our At a Distance podcast.)
Born in Grandin, North Dakota, in 1904, the artist Clyfford Still was among the first generation of Abstract Expressioni
In a single word, how does the future make you feel? A towering sculpture by architect Suchi Reddy, founder of the New Y
Darrin Alfred, the curator of architecture and design at the Denver Art Museum (DAM), has wrangled subjects as mesmerizi
Thick, wobbly lines branch out across a wall of Pace Gallery’s global headquarters in New York. Follow each stroke to itwomen, grandpas, and singers craning toward the ceiling, and donuts, hairs, and holes reaching into the ground. Part absurdist diagram, part heart-melting poem, and part consciousness-shifting artwork, thiDavid Byrne: How I Learned About Non-Rational Logic” (on view Feb. 2–March 19), a restorative survey of drawings the musician has made over the past two decades.
With their audacious, gravity-defying forms, skyscrapers have captured the public’s imagination for more than a century.Skyscraper Page, a zany website with a skyscraper discussion forum that has spread to some 100,000 threads. But what’s the point of obs
In the early ’90s, artist, aesthetics expert, and writer Leonard Koren was bathing at a hot-springs resort near the Japa
“Magazines may be a dying breed,” says Jon Kelly, a former Vanity Fair editor who founded its politics, business, and technology website, Hive, in 2015, after working as a staff editor for The New York Times Magazine and as a founding team member at Bloomberg Businessweek. (His career in media began at Vanity Fair, as an assistant to the legendary editor Graydon Carter.) “But magazine-style writing is always in vogue.” With this coPuck, a subscription-based website where elite writers tell insider stories that lie at the nexus of Hollywood, Wall Street,
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Marked by a snow-white dial with a texture evocative of tree bark, the SLGH005 timepiece from the Japanese watchmaker Grand Seiko was informed by the shirakaba (white birch trees) that thrive in Japan’s northern region, particularly those near the company’s studio in Shizukuishi
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Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists Translate Nature’s Sonic Landscapes Into an Emotive Spectacle
To the attentive ear, symphonies abound—especially in the wild. Musician and author Bernie Krause has been recording natEp. 127 of our At a Distance podcast, has captured more than 5,000 hours of audio created by more than 15,000 terrestrial and marine species in some 2,000 h
When experiencing a crisis, some people see opportunities—for reflection, change, or innovation—that they might not recoAt a Distance podcast was created during (and as a result of) perhaps the widest-reaching calamity in human history—the Covid-19 pandAt a Distance: 100 Visionaries at Home in a Pandemic (Apartamento), out today, presents a selection of these conversations in physical form. The book’s introduction, writte
“The Hare with Amber Eyes” (on view Nov. 19, 2021, through May 15, 2022) is a remarkable, meditative exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum basedNew York Times bestselling family memoir of the same name by London-based artist, author, and master potter Edmund de Waal (who was thEp. 99 of our At a Distance podcast). The show traces the history and migration of the artist’s relatives, who descended from Charles Ephrussi—a Paris-base
Gucci. The luxury fashion house’s name alone conjures up images of vibrancy, extravagance, experimentation, and offbeat latest episode of Hello Fashion, Young’s YouTube show created with The Slowdown, she investigates how this “world” came to be by illuminating the house
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In the sphere of luxury fashion, Dior’s richness of history is practically unparalleled. As stylist Kate Young says, Diolatest episode of Hello Fashion, Young’s YouTube show created with The Slowdown, was filmed. In the episode, Young takes us through Dior’s aesthetic tr
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The nonprofit collective MASS Design Group astutely understands how to promote equity and hope through the built environThe Architecture of Health (Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum), as well as the upcoming Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum exhibition “Design and Healing” (December 10–August 14, 2022)—MASS understands how architecture can impede or advance our collective human rights. (ThEp. 13 of our At a Distance podcast.)
Five years ago, under the cloak of darkness, New York–based floral designer Lewis Miller packed his team and 2,000 dahlias and carnations into a van, and headed for the John Lennon Memorial in Central Park. W
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According to business coach Holly Howard, those looking to run a flourishing enterprise should begin by taking a deeper Ask Holly How, in 2012. Since then, she’s worked with more than 500 businesses and founders, guided by the belief that effective entr
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Since 1915, New York Public Library users in search of visual information have consulted its Picture Collection. It consists of images cut from magazines, catalogues, and books, each glued to backings and organized into folders enc
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In Chicago, more than 10,000 city-owned lots currently sit vacant, concentrated within predominantly Black and brown comChicago Architecture Biennial in 2015. Now, as the latter biennial’s 2021 artistic director, Brown further expands upon his project, using it to info
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Floral jewelry has been a tradition of the French jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels since it opened its first boutique atFlorae” (on view through November 14), presented alongside floret-filled photographs by Japanese photographer and film directo
In 1983, French photographer Simon Chaput arrived in New York City for a weeklong trip, and ended up staying for nearly –1991) in California and Japan to “The Floating Piers” (2014–2016) in Italy. Along the way, in 1984, Chaput met the artist and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who recognized Chaput’s love oNew York,” which he began in 1996, that chronicled the developing built environment of Lower Manhattan.
“In the last few years, something distinctly different has been happening in the ways that technologies come to market, The Economist, and launched a popular tech newsletter and podcast called Exponential View. (Last year, he discussed the present-day role of the smartphone, among other digital-related issues, as the guest on Ep. 56 of our At a Distance podcast.) Azhar cautions against the speed with which innovations such as artificial intelligence, automation, and big data emeThe Exponential Age: How Accelerating Technology Is Transforming Business, Politics and Society (Diversion Books), out next week. With clarity and insight, he outlines new ways of thinking about technology, alongsid
Wassan Al-Khudhairi, the chief curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, is the curator of this year’s Focus, a Armory Show—one of America’s biggest art fairs, on view from September 9–12 at New York’s Javits Center—that features contemporary
The concept for Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley’s new book, Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine (MCD), began forming about 12 years ago, when the world looked considerably different from the way it does now. During aEp. 33 of our At a Distance podcast) noticed an old quarantine station turned luxury hotel on a picturesque peninsula across the bay. “Our first questions
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In 2018, contemporary art dealer David Zwirner hired the young Elena Soboleva to optimize his galleries’ online sales operation and digital presence—prompting some critics to respond with skepticis
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As Paris emerges from lockdown and its streets come alive, the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, an art center Cherry Blossoms” (on view through January 2, 2022), an exhibition of expressively impastoed, large-scale oil paintings by British artistold the BBC. “My mum used to say, ‘There’s enough horror in the world. Why can’t you just paint flowers?’ So maybe she got to me.”
Los Angeles–based journalist Doree Shafrir sees beauty in the particular challenges faced by those who find their footin, pours her lighthearted yet critical perspective on her experience into Forever35, a self-care podcast she co-hosts with her longtime friend Kate Spencer, and into her new memoir, Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (& Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer (Ballantine Books), out this week. In the book, she interrogates the often overwhelming pressure that people—particular How do you start your mornings?
“Social Works,” a group exhibition that opened this week at New York’s Gagosian gallery on West 24th Street, explores space—and the m
“Clouds are not something to moan about,” Gavin Pretor-Pinney says in a 2013 TED talk. “Far from it. They are, in fact, the most diverse, evocative, poetic aspect of nature.” Pretor-Pinney, a British authoThe Idler, a magazine that extols the virtues of slowness, became fascinated with clouds after noticing them in the skies depicte
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Several years ago, Claus Sendlinger began contemplating ways to address his concerns about overdevelopment in the boutiqSlow, a hospitality venture dedicated to creating places that draw upon their locations’ culture, environment, and history aagriturismo (farmhouse retreat) called La Granja. The working farm practices regenerative agriculture, and teaches visitors how it
Maxine Bédat’s New Book Traces the Lifespan of a Pair of Jeans to Illustrate the Ills of Fast Fashion
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The first Monday in May is synonymous with the Met Gala, a benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume InstitutVogue. “Designers live for it.” This year, the affair hasn’t happened yet—it may happen this fall—but to mark the annual occathe eighth episode of Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown.
To stay healthy, we know that our bodies need nourishment, hygiene, and exercise. According to those who study neuroaestEp. 34 of our At a Distance podcast) who runs the International Arts + Mind Lab (IAM Lab)—an initiative at John Hopkins University’s School of Medicine that connects brain scientists with artists to Arts + Health & Wellbeing, an immersive online tool kit that offers visitors an engaging dose of art, and consequent mental fitness, from anywherEp. 11 of our Time Sensitive podcast.)
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Practically everything the artist, master potter, and writer Edmund de Waal touches turns to dust. Or at least toward the idea of dust. In each of his books—2010’s The Hare With Amber Eyes, 2015’s The White Road: Journey Into an Obsession, and the just-published Letters to Camondo (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), out this week—dust serves as a profound metaphor. Throughout his work, whether in pottery or prose, de Waal explores various notions a
From a fashion perspective, the Golden Globes stands apart from other award shows for its timing: The event, during whicleft at that point,” says stylist Kate Young in the ninth episode of Hello Fashion (created with The Slowdown), noting that she usually starts working on Globes outfits around Halloween. For the episode
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Arts education opportunities faded fast for kids in the learn-from-home fog of Covid-19. That’s where The Look Make Show, a new TV program by New York City’s Children’s Museum of the Arts, hopes to come in. The cartoon, of which the creatorKickstarter campaign through May 14, focuses on Rod and Coney, two rotund, charismatic artists who refuse to let the pandemic get in the way
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Debates about whether encyclopedic museums—institutions that collect and contextualize cultural artifacts across time an—should act as more than mere repositories date back decades, but have taken on a new urgency as of late. Now, institutioEp. 12 of our At a Distance podcast), tackled these topics through interviews with nearly 30 leaders, and compiled the conversations in a new book, Under Discussion: The Encyclopedic Museum (Getty Publications). We recently spoke with Grau about the future of institutions and the layered, ever-evolving narra What central issues do encyclopedic museums face today, and what prompted you to explore them?
When attending runway shows, stylist Kate Young keeps her eyes peeled for premiere dresses—gowns to be worn by actressesOn the sixth episode of her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, Young talks about her process for selecting and securing premiere dresses, and highlights f
New York–based stylist Kate Young devotes her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, to explaining the ins and outs of celebrity styling. Her wide-ranging explorations about whOn the series’ fifth episode, Young answers various audience questions, submitted in the comments section of her YouTube channel and on her Instagram.
The Covid-19 pandemic, by its very nature, has led to a universal turning toward—or even retreating to—home. The very noTadao Ando: Living With Light (Rizzoli), out this week, that presents 11 extraordinary residential projects designed by the Japanese architect, who has created more than 100 ho
Frustrated by the high cost of wellness in America, Brooklyn-based journalist Annie Daly set out to find meaningful alteDestination Wellness: Global Secrets for Better Living Wherever You Are (Chronicle Prism), out May 11. What may sound like a travel writer’s cushy, decidedly pre-Covid boondoggle in fact offer
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The British-born, Brooklyn-based philosopher Simon Critchley has no shortage of interests. He’s written, in his refreshiThe New York Times, where he moderates its contemporary thinkers opinion forum, The Stone. For his forthcoming book, Bald (Yale University Press), out April 27, Critchley—who teaches philosophy at The New School for Social Research, and was tEp. 42 of our Time Sensitive podcast and Ep. 3 of our At a Distance podcast—compiled 35 of his favorite Times essays, forming an engaging series of short reads that suggest new ways of understanding the world. We recently spoke w
Isolating at home during the pandemic, New York–based stylist Kate Young longed for the hallmarks of awards season: fancthird episode of her new YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, she details three of her favorite awards looks: a saffron-colored Vera Wang dress, which MiBrokeback Mountain; a red Prada dress, which Selena Gomez wore to the American Music Awards on Nov. 20, 2016, when she won the Favorite FeI, Tonya.
When Goodnight Moon was first published, in 1947, the chief children’s librarian at the New York Public Library didn’t like that its story—Goodnight Moon’s honest presentation of sleep and solicitude still resonated with readers, who’ve since purchased more than 48 million
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How Spanish Culture and Color Informed the Styling and Art Direction of Selena Gomez’s New “Revelación” Album
New York–based stylist Kate Young, one of Hollywood’s most highly sought-after, is known for putting the women she dressVogue. This week, Young debuted her new YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, where she dives deep into the ins and outs of her trade, and the superior craftsmanship of first episode of the weekly series focuses on how she created a series of photographic art for musician Selena Gomez’s new album, “Re
Earlier this month, Francesca Johanson, editor of the Architectural League’s online publication Urban Omnibus, launched Memory Loss,” a new series with Guernica magazine. These essays seek out sites of remembrance in New York City, addressing a “continuum between private and publ
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Hanna Nova Beatrice is the founder and editor-in-chief of The New Era, a recently launched independent Scandinavian design publication. “It grew out of a strong belief in the [power of] priResidence magazine, prefers to consume media the old-fashioned way, with an eye toward periodicals that innovate on physical page How do you start your mornings?
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For most of us, the urge to bring smartphones into our bedrooms is too strong to resist—even when science, and firsthandattest to the habit’s harmful effects. One way to curb the temptation: Loftie, an alarm clock designed to transform sleep spaces into phone-free sanctuaries. Calibrated for the digital age, the dev
Those visiting Japan’s beloved gardens during the winter might be struck by the sight of trees confined within mysteriouyukitsuri—the term for these intriguing rope webs—is a traditional Japanese gardening technique intended to protect trees’ long b
Design can be a powerful tool in times of crisis, when creativity is a crucial element for survival. At the start of theDesigners Against Coronavirus, and in the fall, took the project a step further by documenting 272 of the works in a book of the same name. Nearly all the resources to publish it, from the paper to securing the copyright for each image, were donated, and the
Formgivning, the Danish word for “design,” serves as both a thesis and a call to action in a new book, Formgiving: An Architectural Future History (Taschen), by the Copenhagen-born architectural practice Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). This is no project-by-project compe