To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
–Edna St. Vincent Millay
Ahead of Passover ocean temperatures around the globe start to hit record highs as El Niño looms.
Dozens of rockets are launched from Southern Lebanon into Israel. Netanyahu, still under criminal investigation, makes moves out of the autocrat’s handbook to secure his power while Israeli citizens have been taking to the streets to protest these attacks on their democracy.
In France, demonstrations and unrest continue after Macron’s pension reforms raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.
In Italy, Berlusconi is admitted to an intensive care unit with breathing problems as his protégé in the Brotherhood and recently elected Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni pushes a bill to ban English words in official communications. Bella Ciao.
Finland in a fast track enters NATO more than doubling NATO’s border with Russia while its Prime Minister Sanna Marin concedes election and the far right National Coalition Party takes the majority in the parliament.
In the U.S., Trump renders himself to his arraignment in New York. The twice-impeached former President is now indicted on 34 counts of felony. An extraordinary event in U.S. history, if not simply inevitable, given the number of open investigations and current allegations and cases against him. A while back we mused on Art & Politics in America / Deconstructing the West Wing with Trump’s early choices as a lost leader and the reaction of the artists of the Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. This day, at once highly exceptional and entirely banal, brings to full circle a certain though rather small sense of accountability.
Meanwhile, across the U.S., not even 100 days into 2023, we have seen over 140 mass shootings to date, according to various sources. Still, certain lawmakers are trying to pass a bill to commemorate the military style assault weapon used in many of these attacks as the national gun, unwitting of the farce they have become. Apple pie and AR-15s.
Then there is the Florida man DeSantis continuing his gubernatorial mission with a different kind of assault, armed with the state’s House Bill 1467, creating a veritable vacuum of knowledge of history as a growing list of books are being pulled from library shelves for causing discomfort for the privileged.
The new barrage of false equivalencies of martyrdom or culture and history being censored is a widening window into the current state of mis-education.
Today is April 7th. On this day was born the American jazz singer Billie Holiday (1915). Strange Fruit. Listen while you still can, as if it were okay to lynch a human being, but it’s illegal to learn about it in history.
Welcome to the .138th edition of Prescriptions. Here is our review of the week in the arts.
Paul Chan: Breathers
Paul Chan, recently awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, came to prominence in the early 2000s with vibrant moving image works that touched on aspects of war, religion, pleasure, and politics. At Walker Art Center through July 16, 2023.
Jimmie Durham / Humanity Is Not a Completed Project
Museo Madre presents artist, poet, performer, essayist, activist Jimmie Durham, a unique figure in international art history of the last half century in his first retrospective exhibition after his death. Curated by Kathryn Weir, on view through May 8, 2023 at Museo Madre in Naples, Italy.
Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné, Adam and Eve. Carmen Thyssen Collection
In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine
The exhibition presents the ground-breaking art produced in Ukraine in the first decades of the twentieth century, showcasing trends that range from figurative art to futurism and constructivism. Through April 30, 2023 at Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Edition Block 1966–2022
Since the 1960s, René Block has been a key figure in the European art world, his gallery helping to shape art history. For over 20 years, Neues Museum has hosted large sections of Block’s collection. Featuring works by Joseph Beuys, Alicja Kwade, and others. On view into 2024 at Neues Museum in Nuremberg, Germany.
Southern Rites / Gillian Laub
This small town symbolized the archetype of pastoral American life in Gillian Laub’s series. Yet this idyllic place was also held hostage by a dark past, manifesting in the racial tensions that scar much of American history. Organized by the International Center of Photography. This exhibition recently closed at Atlanta Contemporary and will be on view at George Eastman Museum starting June 2023.
Raisa Raekallio ja Misha del Val, Mökki, 2021. The Wihuri Foundation Collection. Photo Rovaniemi Art Museum / Arto Liiti
Showcasing the Jenny & Antti Wihuri Foundation Collection, this exhibition investigates links between the north and south. The themes of the exhibition point towards how we constantly navigate change. On view through April 2, 2023 at Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art.