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Hold my hand; the ocean is marching

This collection of essays came together as I asked perhaps a simple question. How do we recognize, honor, protect, and cultivate mentorship in contemporary art? This is an urgent question for all of us that won’t fit in history books; we who make and write in a language that is not our own. Political, social, cultural, epistemological, systemic, violence has happened, is happening. The ground is shaking. I’m not unique in this. We’re surrounded by a world full of artists navigating this relation.

This Strange Thing, the Word*

It pains you terribly to hear it. The word. It was dropped casually, as if of no importance. The moment it hit your ears, your heart got stoned. The immediate reaction was a full silence. It weighed on you as you turned mute. You wanted to throw it out, back to where it came from, but to no avail. All you could hear yourself uttering were some rasping throat sounds.

The Art of Eliminating a Nation

What a pain to hear a young woman cry, a thousand wishes gone. A child weeps for the father he has lost. These children did not choose where to be born. And yet, here we are. They are paying the biggest cost for this war of the world. To be witness to the explosion of a bomb in front of the girl’s school; one can never imagine. Their only crime was the desire to learn. This picture should be a source of shame for the world; it is a pure pain for us.

In Conversation

Sheila Pepe with Rina AC Dweck

So, Rina, we share many differences—like religion—between us that draw us both to seeing the Mediterranean Sea as a whole, skirted by three rich, culture-bearing continents. So, I am thinking … As an artist and citizen, what three social/cultural histories make most of the foundation of your actions and the objects/outcomes of your “doing”?

In Conversation

Julie Mehretu with Yasi Alipour

As inspiration, I’ll focus on three subjects that you have been mentioning in the past years: music, revolution, and failure. Starting with music, I want to hear your thoughts on Nina Simone’s “Flo Me La” (1960). You have a painting from 2017–2018 that carries the same title. The three utterances “Flo-Me-La” become the whole lyrics for Nina Simone.

In Conversation

Dorothea Rockburne with Yasi Alipour

I entered Dorothea Rockburne’s studio; I am an artist sitting in front of an artist I admire. I had never met her before. Yet, she’s always been a mentor, even as I only knew her through her work.

In Conversation

Rirkrit Tiravanija & Tomas Vu with Yasi Alipour

The following narrative is made of conversation fragments stitched together—an attempt to capture a day. This is how conversations often happen: hours pass, we talk about everything and nothing, our voices move in and out of focus. It was a Thursday, like many others. I start my day teaching a six-hour class. Rirkrit Tiravanija and Tomas Vu, collaborators and co-conspirators, began this conversation over a game of golf. Me and my voice recorder entered the scene long after the game ended. It took a few train rides and an uber to find the two deep in Long Island.

In Conversation

Alteronce Gumby with Carrie Moyer

Alteronce Gumby is a painter of (be)dazzling abstractions. Painstakingly constructed from glass tesserae, his shaped paintings evoke drifts of cosmic dust. Imagine a confab between Alma Thomas, Jack Whitten and Howardina Pindell deep in the Hall of Gems. I first met Alteronce when he was an undergrad painter at Hunter College. His devotion to the monochrome and a kind of “pure” abstraction was striking even then. Gumby has spent the past decade developing a body of work that mines both the sensation and symbolism of color.

Visions of Anticolonial Futures from Worlds of the Past

Towards the end of 2019, India witnessed massive protests that spread across the country. This was the first time in a hundred years that Indians had taken to the streets pervasively to protest the erasure of Islamic lifeworlds in India.

when they take what is—As If


Tectonic plates meeting

They and them being We-Me.They were sitting by the black chair, on the floorThere they were, with their legs stretched out and their marigold yellow shorts as consistent as the center of the fire that now sits next to this orange heart.The oceanic dusk to dawn linked by white shells, spiraling white moons

Can you dig it?


Language Can’t Solve Our Problems

Can language solve our problems as young Black people, and if so, what form(s) of language?


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2021

All Issues