CURRENT ISSUE

Issue 65 / Knowledge

featuring Lina Bolzoni, Steven Connor, Amy Hollywood, Marina Warner, Leif Weatherby, Susan Zieger, and more

KIOSK / 25 FEBRUARY 2020

On the Market

Justin E. H. Smith

At the museum, I am standing with my spouse in front of a Flemish vanitas scene. There is an old man hunched over his accounting books, surrounded by gold coins and jewels; a skull sits on his desk, and Death himself perches undetected above his shoulder. What, I ask her, is the “takeaway” of such scenes supposed to be? That one would do well to start thinking of one’s soul, she says. ...

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ISSUE 65

Rectangle after Rectangle

Amy Knight Powell

This is about the dominance of the rectangular format in a certain tradition of picture making, a dominance that still holds today and extends well beyond the medium of painting. The book, the photographic print, the screen, and the museum—which has tended to favor this format—all guarantee that we encounter most pictures in rectangular frames. ...

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ISSUE 65

Ingestion / The White Rabbit and His Colorful Tricks

Catherine Keyser

In 2015, General Mills reformulated Trix with “natural” colors. Customers complained that the bright hues of their childhood cereal were now dull yellows and purples. Two years later, the company released Classic Trix to stand on store shelves alongside so-called No, No, No Trix, the natural version. This nickname, promising “no tricks,” sounds abstemious; the virtuous customer says no to technicolor temptation. ...

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KIOSK / 12 DECEMBER 2019

Girl, in Still Life

Johanna Ekström

When I was a child, there was a book about the Polish artist Balthus in the small library at our country home. It was dad’s book, big and heavy. The skin between my thumb and index finger stretched taut when I took it down from the shelf. Sometimes I would sit at the table there in the library and page through the book. The table was by a window that looked out on a forest of firs. ...

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KIOSK / 3 DECEMBER 2019

The Lasting Breath

Mairead Small Staid

On display at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan—amid the lacquered black metal of Model Ts and the hanging flanks of the first planes to fly over the poles, just feet from Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House and the bus seat made famous by Rosa Parks, mere yards from the chair in which Abraham Lincoln was shot and the limousine in which John Fitzgerald Kennedy was also, yes, shot—is a small, clear, and seemingly empty test tube, once rumored to contain the last breath of Thomas Edison. ...

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ISSUE 65

The Power of Naming

Cecilia Sjöholm

In Genesis, Adam is given the task of naming the animals. God sends them to parade before him, and he gives them names. This ur-scene of naming is at the heart of the European grand debates over the origins of knowledge. Adam’s task cannot just have been performed randomly. The names would have had to mean something, and would have had to come from somewhere. ...

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ISSUE 64

Welcome to Armageddon!

Julian Lucas

The beauty of sand, in other words, belonged to death.
—Kobo Abe, The Woman in the Dunes

When we say, “It’s just a game,” what we mean is that there are no consequences. Everything can be erased and done over, the pieces swept off the board and reset. Repetition invites impunity, and so players murder bystanders in Grand Theft Auto, crash airplanes in Flight Simulator, or make suicidal charges on the beaches of Normandy in Call of Duty. …

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KIOSK / 21 NOVEMBER 2019

Telling Stories

Lukas Cox

In the late summer of 1941, a young woman identified by the initials J. B. wrote to the editor of the wildly popular crime magazine True Detective with a story about her father. “Whenever Dad came home from work,” she begins, “he usually found me huddled in a chair reading a mystery magazine.” Her father does not approve. To him, the stories in the magazine—lurid and sensational tales of real murder cases, complete with vibrant illustrations of partially clothed women—are “just trash.” ...

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