Tony Wood on Corinne Diserens, ed., Gordon Matta-Clark. Dissections of architectural space in the 60s and 70s, and their meaning in contemporary criticism. Did Matta-Clark’s disappearing art works leave behind a radical grin?
Gordon Matta-Clark is known primarily for his ‘building cuts’—geometric lines and sections sliced out of structures slated for demolition—but his practice ranged across almost the entire territory of 70s avant-garde art: from site-specific work to performance, from process art to film. Common to the vast bulk of his œuvre, however, is the notion of impermanence, of things doomed to decay or disappear: trays full of mouldering organic material, meals made entirely of bones, incisions into houses that were soon to be razed. As he himself put it in 1973, his works were ‘designed for collapse, failure, absence and memory’.
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Tony Wood on John Tutino, The Mexican Heartland. Historic struggles of central Mexico’s campesinos postulated as relay-switch for capitalism’s expansion in Latin America and beyond.
Fine-grained reading of the films of Andrei Zvyagintsev, from the abstract allegories of his earlier work to the unsparing portrayals of contemporary Russia in Elena and Leviathan, exemplary of a new social turn in post-Soviet cinema. Reflections of class polarization and fables of power, with Orthodoxy as its prop.
Lives of Jughashvili
Tony Wood on Stephen Kotkin, Stalin, Volume I and Oleg Khlevniuk, Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator. Contrasting portrayals of the ‘man of steel’.
Reserve Armies of the Imagination
Tony Wood on Hito Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen. Dilemmas of representation—aesthetic and political—in the age of the super-abundant image.
Collapse as Crucible
While Russia’s anti-Putin demonstrations have prompted talk of a civic awakening—led by a flat-pack middle class—the country’s overall social landscape remains largely unmapped. Tony Wood surveys its shifting structures since the Soviet collapse, and the consequences of marketization’s advance through the USSR’s ruins.
Silver and Lead
Tony Wood on Anabel Hernández, Los señores del narco. The structures of political complicity and corruption that have fuelled Mexico’s drug wars.
Good Riddance to New Labour
As the British general election approaches, a balance-sheet of New Labour’s thirteen years in office. The record of Blair and Brown—imperial wars abroad, subservience to the City at home—as so many reasons to cheer their downfall.
Latin America Tamed?
Tony Wood on Michael Reid, Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America’s Soul. A revised neoliberal gospel for the region, courtesy of the Economist.
Contours of the Putin Era
Responding to Vladimir Popov, Tony Wood examines the geographical and social distribution of Russia’s recent economic growth. What are the priorities and outlook of the emerging business-state elite—and whom will Putin’s ‘stabilization’ benefit?
Celluloid and Plasma
Tony Wood on Laura Mulvey, Death 24x a Second. How has the digital era changed the cinematic viewing experience—and the spectator? Freeze-frame fetishism and narrative disruption from Lumière to Kiarostami, via Hitchcock and Rossellini.